Questions I’m Asking Myself About Racism and the Church

Exterior of a church building

I’m wrestling through questions about racism and the church, trying to examine my own heart and thinking on the subject, trying to listen to and learn from African-American neighbors and brothers and sisters in Christ.

Two passages of Scripture have been guiding my approach.

James 1:19:

[L]et every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;

Romans 12:15:

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

I’m not particularly skilled at either listening or empathizing, but I’m trying to grow.

Below are examples of the types of questions I’m pondering. Note that “us” refers primarily to white, Reformed and/or Evangelical Christians and churches. May I invite you to spend some time asking yourself the same kinds of questions?

Why are many of us convinced there is deeply entrenched bias and discrimination against Christians in the public sphere but dismiss even the possibility that systemic racism exists?

Why are many of us concerned that temporary public health restrictions threaten civil liberties but shrug our shoulders at long-standing patterns of police violence against unarmed American citizens?

Why do many of us support, or even participate in, protests about coronavirus restrictions but criticize those who protest racism?

Why are many of us eager to listen to monologues by conservative media personalities but hesitant to hear about the experiences of African-American neighbors who are hurting and upset?

Why do many of us champion the personhood of children in the womb but have doubts about a grown human being’s inherent worth and dignity, especially when he or she has a checkered past?

Why are many of us horrified at the unjust destruction of personal property but only mildly concerned about the unjust destruction of Black human lives?

Why do many of us lament not being able to gather as a church without restrictions but have little empathy for African-American men who can’t go for a jog without fear of being gunned down because of the color of their skin?