"Red and yellow, black and white
They are precious in his sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world."

It is a chorus many of us sang in Sunday school. But its truth is more easily grasped when we are still "little children." Something happens as we become adults that exacerbates our perceptions of race. Attitudes are molded, stereotypes embraced. The way of the world assails our childhood theology. Yet the simple truth of God's sovereign, all-inclusive love remains. The challenge is living out that truth in a racially fragmented, sin-crippled world.

The United States has been haunted by racial division—most enduringly between blacks and whites—from the very beginning. Slavery, civil war, and a monumental struggle for social equality imprinted the issue on the DNA of the nation.

While there clearly has been extraordinary progress in American race relations, the color line is still with us. Especially on Sunday mornings. In a recent New York Times poll, 90 percent of whites said there were few or no blacks at their religious services and 73 percent of blacks said their congregations had few or no whites.

Earlier this year, Oxford University Press released Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by sociologists Michael Emerson and Christian Smith. The authors conducted nationwide phone surveys of more than 2,000 white evangelicals, along with 200 face-to-face interviews. Their extensive research suggested an intriguing pattern: Most white evangelicals deny the existence of any ongoing racial problem in the U.S., and many blame the media and African Americans who refuse to forget the past for any lingering racial conflict. This perception, contend the authors, is not so much informed ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

June
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
From Issue:
Read These Next
RecommendedWhat You Probably Don’t Know about ‘The Least of These’
What You Probably Don’t Know about ‘The Least of These’ Subscriber Access Only
A more biblically accurate understanding of Jesus' words in Matthew 25.
TrendingThe Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
The Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
How the former FBI director’s interest in Reinhold Niebuhr shaped his approach to political power.
Editor's PickSasse: Adolescence Is a Gift, but Extended Adolescence Is a Trap
Ben Sasse: Adolescence Is a Gift, but Extended Adolescence Is a Trap
The Nebraska senator wants parents to get serious about shepherding kids into responsible adulthood.
Christianity Today
Divided by Faith?
hide thisOctober 2 October 2

In the Magazine

October 2, 2000

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.