Chicago’s ‘integrated church’ is a joke
Yesterday, I was enjoying my weekly Time magazine over lunch at my kitchen table, when I almost spit my milk all over its pretty pages.
The article, entitled “The Color of Faith,” talked about how evangelical churches, like Chicagoland’s Willow Creek Community Church, are bridging America’s racial divide.
Reading it, I was delighted – thrilled even. Until I got about 3/4 of the way through, where they said what the definition of integrated was: 80% white, 20% minority. Willows stats? 80% white, 6% Hispanic, 4% Asian, 2% African American, 8% “other.”
2% African-American? Are we joking here?
Why is it that our definition of integrated is to have “some brown people”? In my mind, integration should mean that the racial makeup of a group reflects the racial makeup of society, not a handful of people not like us.
Yes, I know that Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour in American, and any progress is to be applauded. But how soon?
Willow has never had a non-white person as a pastor or senior staff member. The article says, “To some white congregants, naming a person of another color to tell you what Scripture means, week in and week out, crosses an internal boundary between “diversity” (positive) and “affirmative action” (potentially unnerving.)”
That made me want to throw the magazine across the room.
So they can come to church. We’ll allow the brown people to listen to God’s word, but heaven help us – they can’t be in charge!
The article doesn’t address a larger issues of why churches are so segregated. Most people go to church close to home, and home is usually a neighborhood where everyone looks like you. We live in the most segregated big city in America. If we’re really concerned about segregation, it can’t be just for an hour, one day a week. Residential segregation is a huge hurdle, and one that won’t be overcome without much thought, planning and dogged willingness to make everyone uncomfortable.
I am pleased as punch that these churches are talking about race – one of the most difficult subjects to broach in America today. I am happy that they’re making progress. But lets not stop here and applaud. These statistics are still ugly, and in my book, slightly less ugly isn’t something you want to brag about.