"Those white Christians must read from a different Bible,” black columnist Barbara Reynolds wrote of the Religious Right after the November elections. In her USA Today column, she denounced the intent to cut aid to the poor, asking, “What kind of Christians stamp on the neediest?”
On this and other issues, many Bible-believing blacks and whites find themselves at odds. Despite differing rhetoric, they do read the same Bible and ultimately proclaim the same goals: equality, dignity, and justice. But their strategies and priorities can differ dramatically.
In light of all this, it was well that the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and the National Black Evangelical Association (NBEA) started 1995 off with a convocation on racial reconciliation (CT News, Feb. 6, 1995, p. 48). With the theme that reconciliation is at the heart of the gospel, they brought together in Chicago 180 black and white leaders. Much of the time was spent at racially mixed tables of eight, and exchanges were often candid. African Americans spoke of broken promises, empty rhetoric, resurgent racism. Whites described “double binds,” being misunderstood and rebuffed. The issues were complex, emotion-laden, prone to oversimplification. Yet there was a wealth of determined good will. After five years of joint commissions and a nearly 40-year history of carefully worded resolutions, members and friends of the NAE and NBEA were meeting face to face.
Most of us who read CT are white. What can we say to African Americans’ dashed expectations? How can we contribute to racial reconciliation? Adequate answers would require volumes. But here are a few modest—yet urgent—recommendations:1
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