First, J. Kameron Carter’s book, Race: A Theological Account is out. I happen to hold a copy of it in my hand. (Unfortunately I have to wait until the proficiency test is done this Monday until I can give the book the time it deserves.) Also, the book was less than $40 in hardback to boot. Woo hoo!
Second, CNN has written one of their better articles that I’ve seen recently on race and the church (especially after the Wright debacle brought on by them): “Why many Americans prefer their Sundays segregated.”
Americans may be poised to nominate a black man to run for president, but it’s segregation as usual in U.S. churches, according to the scholars. Only about 5 percent of the nation’s churches are racially integrated, and half of them are in the process of becoming all-black or all-white, says Curtiss Paul DeYoung, co-author of “United by Faith,” a book that examines interracial churches in the United States.
DeYoung’s numbers are backed by other scholars who’ve done similar research. They say integrated churches are rare because attending one is like tiptoeing through a racial minefield. Just like in society, racial tensions in the church can erupt over everything from sharing power to interracial dating.
DeYoung, who is also an ordained minister, once led an interracial congregation in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that eventually went all-black. He defines an interracial church as one in which at least 20 percent its membership belongs to a racial group other than that church’s largest racial group.
“I left after five years,” DeYoung says. “I was worn out from the battles.”
The men and women who remain and lead interracial churches often operate like presidential candidates. They say they live with the constant anxiety of knowing that an innocuous comment or gesture can easily mushroom into a crisis that threatens their support.