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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pointing the Blame

Please welcome guest blogger, Brittany L. BrowneA recent graduate of Ohio Dominican University, she is a freelance writer with Columbus Messenger, and a Racial Justice Coordinator with the YWCA Columbus AmeriCorps program. Connect with her via Linkedin or follow her on Twitter @britbrowne.

Just when you thought Sunday was getting better at being more inclusive, it’s still the most segregated hour of the week in America. The claim in Christianity is that all churches seek to be inclusive just as Christ was inclusive. While this sounds uplifting and righteous, the reality is we are not doing a very good job at it, nor are we trying hard enough. Well, because we don’t want to.

“It’s not our responsibility;” these are the ultimate words that speak volumes to the reasoning behind lack of inclusiveness in our churches. To the credit of those churches who are inclusive and who strive to be more inclusive for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven on earth-- kudos!

But, to those who are not as inclusive and would rather make an excuse than an action plan, it is no longer enough as a follower of Jesus Christ to sit in the pulpit on Sunday and exclude yourself from the other Christians in the world who live by the scripture of Ephesians 4:2-5 It is not enough to cry “woe is me” any longer. It is well overdue for a new movement or new excuses at the very least.
The majority of racial issues and lack of inclusiveness as it relates to the church always seem to rely back on the views of one another. We live in such a blame society, where nothing no longer is our own fault. We feel as if we don’t want to be the guilty one.

Yet who is to blame is not the question, or the answer for that matter. We really need to re-evaluate ourselves as Christians, saying that we are open-minded, all-loving etc. Essentially, this will bring us to a foundational state that allows us to be broken in the Holy Spirit. Through this brokenness we can recognize our own shortcomings in seeking first the kingdom of heaven and really being our “brother’s keeper.” 

According to a recent Anniston Star article:

“It’s been 53 years since Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in “Strides Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story” that the most segregated hour in Christian America is 11 o’clock on Sunday morning, the same hour when so many are standing to sing, ‘In Christ there is no East nor West.’ Equally appalling is the fact that the most segregated school of the week is Sunday school. How often the church has had a high blood count of creeds and anemia of deeds.”

King’s indictment still rings true. According to a recent study conducted at Baylor University, nine out of 10 congregations have a single racial group that accounts for more than 80 percent of their membership.
So, we see it is imperative to not only talk about these things but to place feet on our prayers.

From the African American perspective, I too often hear “We were the ones who have been oppressed for so long; it should be [their] responsibility to approach us for inclusive collaborative efforts.” Counter to this the Caucasian community says, “We’ve tried our best, there is nothing else we can do. [They] are more than welcome to join us.” (Of course, that means under certain circumstances like limited roles in leadership etc.)

One hurtful example of Christianity’s bondage of racism would be the United Methodist denomination. Now, being mindful that I attend a United Methodist congregation, it is certainly different than the average United Methodist Church (UMC). If that is questionable, one is more than welcome to attend this dynamic multi-cultural, multi-economical, multi-class environment on any day—open 24hours for your convenience!

Nevertheless, the African Methodist Episcopal Church rose out of the United Methodist Church due to the encounter of racism over 200+ years ago and they have not till this day been re-united with one another. More history on AME can be found here.

In the book titled, One Body, One Spirit, by George Yancy, he says:

“But, this notion of “colorblindness” discounts the degree of racial alienation we have in our society. We simply can not treat skin color like we treat hair or eye color.”

The reality is that regardless of race, regardless of the oppressor or the oppressed, as believers and specifically followers of Jesus Christ, we need to stop pointing fingers. We have to take off our old self and be created new creatures in Christ. We should also have the heart of new creatures, which in return molds our thinking, and our actions that should follow. The excuses are cumbersome and a false representation of the full life Christ is asking us to lead.

As Don Williams Jr. once said, “On an altar of prejudice we crucify our own, yet the blood of all children is the color of God.”

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  1. Excellent! The more we blame, the less we have time to reflect on our actions and how we are complicit in the injustice. We need to move forward together in Christ!


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