August 23rd, 2014
07:14 PM ET

What God is screaming in Ferguson, Missouri

Opinion by the Rev. Fred D. Robinson, special to CNN

(CNN) - On day five after the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown at the hands of police, I was on the phone with a white Christian and fellow preacher concerning the racial cauldron that has become Ferguson, Missouri.

During our conversation, he spent more time decrying rioting and calling for calm and prayer than lamenting the modern-day lynching by law enforcement of innocent black bodies that are piling up across the nation.

But most frustrating was his solution to the racial powder keg that has produced the Fergusons across the nation: a call for more racially diverse churches.

I get tired of that one. His unrelenting insistence reminded me — in the most stark terms — of James Baldwin’s prophetic quip: “Racial progress in America is measured by how fast I become white.”

Simply having diverse congregations without addressing the weightier matters of social justice and structural racism is not better church practice. It is possibly subterfuge.

During Princeton Theological Seminary’s 2014 Black Theology and Leadership Institute, of which I was a fellow, Dr. John Kinney, a professor of theology at Virginia Union, offered this stinging indictment:

“When white supremacy adopts diversity, it seeks to either cleanse you, contain you, co-opt you or convert you.”

If one is not careful, that is exactly what will be achieved in today’s climate of multiracial churches.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Discrimination • Houses of worship • Leaders • Opinion • Poverty • Prejudice • Race

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