The Most Segregated Day In North America

Today is Sunday and it is indeed the most segregated day in North America. Whites will go to their churches, and black to theirs, and never the two shall meet. Each will preach sermons of uplift directed at their specific congregations and nothing will be said about the one sidedness of the message.

I was raised in the Pentecostal and Seventh Day Adventist faith (Parents couldn’t agree on a family religion) and both were largely black denominations.

God is love and colour blind; I have heard this over and over again.  If that were truly the case, why do we feel the need to segregate ourselves to worship her/him? (yes I am going to use a gender neutral approach) When people close their eyes to pray they don’t envision a God that is without race, they envision a God that either reflects them, or a God that is white because western society has made whiteness representative of Divinity. Think about how many mainstream black Jesus’, or black virgin Mary’s you have seen?  There is a good deal of evidence that Jesus was a man of colour, and in fact in early Christian imagery he was not depicted as the blonde haired blue eyed Jesus that we recognize today.

The white Jesus is reflective of the white power structure. Creating a God that is white empowers whites to act on her/his behalf because of course they are his “chosen people”.  Whites have skillfully used Christianity to keep blacks docile in hopes of reward in the great hereafter.  Slavery, one of the greatest crimes against humanity was justified by religion.  Whether this is a perversion of the original message, or a signal of the inequality that is inherent to Christianity I cannot say. It could simply be a matter of the ways in which racial stereotypes and power dynamics have been attached to theology.

What I do know, is that until society becomes cognizant of ways in which race is divisive there can be no unity on Sunday.  Fellowship will remain segregated because we don’t truly believe that the person standing beside us is our equal. This is true in terms of race, class and gender.  The platitudes that we pay lip service to on Sunday have no real meaning in the larger world, as we daily engage in acts that contradict the very messages we claim to embrace on Sunday. 

Worship is more about division than solidarity.  Those of upper class standing do not attend churches in poor neighbourhoods.  Though Jesus was a poor man, mixing with different class elements even to praise his name is a rare phenomenon.  Ask yourself why we must dress in our Sunday best to commune with God.  I remember one church I attended that was more like a fashion show for Oscar de la Renta than a gathering together of like minded beings.  I quickly realized that I did not make enough money to be able to practice my faith (now I am agnostic) there.  Each week there would hushed whispers about what people were wearing. Those that did not meet the appropriate standard were dutifully shamed.

As this post is already long enough I won’t get into the gender issues that come along with Christianity but sufficed it to say there are many.  I simply want people to think as they head off to their respective places of worship today, about why they have chosen the church that they have and what it says about their connection to God. Are your intentions as pure as you think they are, or are you simply repeating racist/classist/sexist behaviour that has become commonplace in western society?

H/T Stuff White People Do for The Youtube Video

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