Here is a quote from Attorney General Eric Holder regarding the willingness of most Americans to enter into dialogue about race with others, particularly those of another race:
“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.“
Furthermore, he says this: “the workplace is largely integrated but Americans still self-segregate on the weekends and in their private lives.”
Please allow me to decode this: what he is saying is that people are willing to put up with racial differences when it is to their professional advantage to do so, such as in the workplace. But they are not willing to allow it to interfere with their personal lives. Perhaps even more troubling to me is the fact that he specifically mentions “the weekends,” which is when Christians gather for worship.
Could this be a veiled criticism of the church? I believe it is. Many have lamented the fact that Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America. The blame goes in both directions because both whites and blacks have different reasons for not worshiping together.
Many white churches fancy themselves a place where people of all races can come to freely worship. But they make few attempts to modify their styles to accommodate others.
Black churches do the same thing. But consider this: the workplace is still a predominately white environment in most cases. This means that African Americans still feel the pressure of being a minority in a white world and they learn to adapt themselves to their environment. But when they go home, or go to church, they may seek a community where it’s safe to be black.
The process of reconciling Christians of various races will be difficult because we’re not just talking about skin color. We’re talking about entire histories of peoples from various backgrounds. Different tastes, styles, preferences.
But when the first African American Attorney General calls Americans racial “cowards,” I think this is the time for the church to say, “not us; we’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure that there is no division in the body.”
I’m sure I’ve heard that somewhere before. (1 Corinthians 12:25)