Christians and Race

Let’s talk about race. And let’s talk about the Christian perspective on race. Those who reject the Christian message try to pin a label on us, that we are racial bigots. How often I have heard that the most segregated hour of the week is Sunday morning. They try to imply that evangelicalism is a “whites-only” religion.

Well, first of all, that has not been my experience—not in the churches I have attended, nor at the Christian colleges where I have taught. I have never once heard a sermon or spoken with a Christian pastor or other leader who expressed racial animosity. There is a reason for that.

You see, if we approach this issue Biblically, we have to come to one conclusion: there is only one race in God’s creation; it is called “human.” Within that race, there are variations, but we all descend from one set of parents. Therefore, if we harbor resentment or ill-will against someone who has a different shade of skin color or some other slight variation on facial features, we are denying the faith we say we believe.

What is all this talk about black and white, anyway? Have you really looked at other people? If you are albino, you are rather white, but otherwise you are more beige. What qualifies as black? How black does one’s skin have to be to count? President Obama had a “white” mother and is not very “black” in skin tone. Yet he is hailed as America’s first black president.

I think the “black” commentator and scholar Thomas Sowell had it right when he penned a book entitled Pink and Brown People. That’s closer to the truth. We humans, as a race, run the gamut of skin tones. Where is the dividing line between black and white?

As a society, we are race conscious. We always have been. It started, of course, with slavery and then segregation policies. When those situations were dealt with via the Civil War and legislation, we didn’t stop being race conscious, but the focus changed. We started affirmative action programs to make up for past treatment. All that did was stoke the fires of racial thinking.

Electing Obama was supposed to take care of all this. That’s what we were told. Yet what has happened? Decisions are being made on the basis of race even more now. It’s Obama himself who is keeping this alive, while still blaming others.

So is Obama a racist? How about his Supreme Court pick, Sonia Sotomayor? I prefer to use the term “racialist.” That describes someone who makes race the supreme issue of life, and who makes all decisions with race in mind. A racialist can be black, white, pink, or brown. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that this attitude can lead to the destruction of the rule of law and continue to divide us as a people.

We have more legitimate reasons for division, and those are based on ideology and policy. Those have real merit. It’s time to put aside false divisions like race. That is the Christian position, regardless of what critics may imply.