Friday, December 2, 2011

Perhaps I Am Not Seeing This As Positively...

Alan K. Henderson sees this news story as a positive sign that white racism is on the decline in America:
 A small church in Kentucky won't accept interracial couples as members.

So how does that fit with the title of this post?
  1. A small-town church doesn't make the news unless it does something out of the ordinary.
  2. The church itself is divided over the policy. The article doesn't state the size of the church, but when the policy was put before the body, only 15 members voted. The measure passed by a 9-6 vote. Ironically, the policy is "intended to promote greater unity among the church body and the community we serve."
I would say, from the form of Mr. Henderson's argument, that this is a sign that white racism is nearly dead.  A very tiny rural church in the South splits (and with a sizable minority against the rule) on whether to allow not just an interracial couple to attend their church, but a black man (from Zimbabwe) and an white woman.  And they are definitely well outside the mainstream of this rural community:
Johnson, with the local ministerial association, said the reactions have included heartbreak and disbelief.  "Most of us thought that we'd moved well beyond that," he said.
There was a time, not that many decades ago, when even many Northern churches might have looked askance at an interracial couple.  This, unfortunately, is one of the those reminders that while Christianity is supposed to transform the culture, far more often, the culture transforms Christianity.  One of the great strengths that Christianity brought to the Roman Empire was that it transcended ethnicity, one's status as free or slave, even, to some extent, male and female.  The Roman Empire was awash in ethnic tensions and intercommunal rioting was a big problem in the late Empire--something that Christianity to some extent reduced.  The notion that there was something improper about a marriage between Christians of different races is a seventeenth century innovation, replacing sixteen centuries of tradition.

UPDATE: The December 5, 2011 Christian Science Monitor reports that they have reversed their previous decision.

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