By almost any definition, Debbie, white and 27 years of age, is an evangelical. She holds firmly to the authority of Scriptures, is "born again," evangelizes with her words and actions, gives money for overseas missions, and is active in her church. She recently graduated from an evangelical Bible college and is now training to be a minister of Christian education in her denomination.

Growing up in the "wheat belt," she was sheltered from racial diversity. That changed somewhat when she attended a Bible college that was located downtown in a large city. However, she only saw this diversity from a distance, in passing; her schoolmates were nearly all white, and she spent most of her time with them.

We met for an interview in a restaurant on a Saturday morning. Throughout our discussion, she was very open and friendly, candidly stating her thoughts. When asked if she thought our country has a race problem, she matter-of-factly said, "I think we make it a problem."

The only race problem Debbie sees is one of misinterpretation. In the normal course of interpersonal communication, conflicts arise. When this occurs between individuals of different races, it is incorrectly assumed to be a race issue.

Did Debbie think there was a race problem beyond this? Yes, she said, there are times when problems genuinely occur between races, or actually between individuals of different races. To her, this happens when someone is "biased against a person solely for their race." This is due, in her view, to some people's ignorance, and is inexcusable for Christians.

Mary, a 28-year-old white mother of two, is also strongly evangelical. A college graduate, Mary is now a full-time homemaker and lives a comfortable middle-class life with her husband, ...

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October 2, 2000

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