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United by Faith: Multiracial Congregation as an Answer to the Problem of Race

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United by Faith

United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation as an Answer to the Problem of Race

Christianity is ostensibly a religion committed to peace, love, and the brotherhood of humanity. Why is it, then, that a country like the United States, where Christianity has always played a dominant role in culture and politics, has also been plagued by racial discrimination and strife through most of its history? Does the fault lie with Christianity, with Christians, or somewhere else?

Summary

Title: United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation as an Answer to the Problem of Race
Author: Curtiss Paul Deyoung, Michael O. Emerson, George Yancey, Karen Chai Kim
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0195152158

Pro:
•  Offers critical perspective on continuing Christian segregation in America
•  Detailed analysis of arguments defending segregated congregations

Con:
•  Comparison with Christian congregations in other nations might have been useful

Description:
•  Analysis of racial segregation in American Christianity, past and present
•  Examines defenses of continued presence of uniracial churches and congregations
•  Argues that Christian groups must become multiracial, multiethnic, and multicultural

 

Book Review

Many believe that the fault for poor racial relations lies more with individual Christians and the Christian congregations they create; because of this, efforts on their part can help heal the racial wounds which divide people throughout society. That is very much the argument presented in the recently published United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation as an Answer to the Problem of Race.

The four authors, themselves a multiracial group, acknowledge that most Christian congregations in America are racially segregated - according to their calculations, only 7.5 percent of the more than 300,000 religious congregations in America are racially mixed, but only 5.5 percent of Christian congregations are racially mixed. Thus, as bad as religious groups in America are about encouraging racial and ethnic diversity in worship, Christian groups are actually worse.

The fact that the ethnic and racial diversity is actually increasing throughout society means that the divide between Christian teaching and Christian practice will only become more obvious and more problematic over time. A chief difficulty, however, lies in actually convincing individual Christians to open up their congregations to more diversity.

United by Faith

United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation as an Answer to the Problem of Race

This isn't easy because such diversity doesn't involve simply accepting members of different races into the congregation. On the contrary, true diversity means accepting members of different cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds as full and equal members. This entails having them take on leadership roles in churches, accepting the presence of multiracial couples in the congregations, and allowing for the evolution of worship styles in a manner which reflects the backgrounds of all members rather than forcing all members to assimilate to a single style.

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