November 01, 2007

Using Religion to Unite Racial Groups

author_cn  By C.N. Le

In my previous post,“The Downside of Diversity?” I wrote about a new study by a Harvard professor that concluded that in areas with high levels of racial/ethnic diversity, residents are more likely to feel alienated and distrustful of each other. I wrote that these findings directly challenge a long-standing and widely-accepted notion among liberals -- that diversity is a positive thing for American society.

As the New York Times reports, in many communities around the country recent influxes of new immigrants have led to increased racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity in their towns and cities--and also in their churches. In contrast to the findings I described above, these demographic and social developments have actually strengthened the social bonds between church members:

The Clarkston International Bible Church, which sits along an active freight rail line down the road from the former Ku Klux Klan bastion of Stone Mountain, is now home to parishioners from more than 15 countries. . . The church’s Sunday potluck lunch features African stews and Asian vegetable dishes alongside hot dogs, sweet tea and homemade cherry pie.

The transformation of what was long known as the Clarkston Baptist Church speaks  to a broader change among other American churches. Many evangelical Christians who have long believed in spreading their religion in faraway lands have found that immigrants offer an opportunity for church work within one’s own community. And many immigrants and refugees are drawn by the warm welcome they get from the parishioners, which can stand in stark contrast to the more competitive and alienating nature of working in America.

Indeed, evangelical churches have begun to stand out as rare centers of ethnic mixing in a country that researchers say has become more culturally fragmented, in part because of immigration.

The article argues that the transition to a multi-ethnic and multicultural church was not an easy one. As their town was experiencing these profound demographic changes, many old-time white residents became appalled and convinced that “their town” was being “taken over,” and many decided to religion6move elsewhere rather than live near immigrants and people of color.

Nonetheless, other long-time residents turned to the Bible for guidance on how to deal with these social changes and found the answer in Jesus’s example of praying for unity among his followers. As a result, the church described in the article decided to rent out its facilities to Filipino, Vietnamese, and African groups for their own services. Eventually, the church invited these separate congregations to join them to form an expanded and inclusive congregation.

All groups involved had to change a little: “Merging congregations has meant compromise for everyone. The immigrants who join the main congregation have to give up worshiping in their native languages. Older Southern Baptist parishioners have given up traditional hymns and organ music.”

In so many ways, this story about the evolution of the Clarkston International  Bible Church is a great example of sociology at work. The first lesson is that globalization and demographic change are practical realities of American society. With that in mind, “traditionalists” can keep running away and moving from town to town if they like, but eventually they will have to deal with these changes one way or another.

Alternatively, as people can follow the example of Clarkston church member William Perrin, the former navy pilot who swore never to use derogatory racial terms ever again. Rather than avoid the issue and such social changes, they can summon up the courage to consciously adapt and learn to even embrace change. These kinds of challenges make us stronger and more united as a community and as a society.

A third lesson we might learn from this story is the positive power of religion to facilitate social unity and solidarity. Some Americans (particularly many religion8aacademics) are rather skeptical and even hostile towards organized religion. In many cases, they see religion as a divisive force that only serves to perpetuate “us versus them” mentalities.

These critics of religion sometimes have a valid point. There are plenty of examples of fundamentalist expressions of fanaticism from virtually all of the major religions of the world. Nonetheless, as this article illustrates, not all aspects of organized religion are divisive and in fact, as the Clarkston example shows, religion can serve as a powerful and effective focal point that can bring together people from diverse backgrounds.

When used in conjunction with compassion, a willingness to evolve, and inclusion, religion can have many positive powers that go beyond simple faith and spirituality. In fact, religion can meet many practical needs and foster positive responses to a variety of changes -- organizational, economic, and demographic.

The final sociological lesson is that rather than leading to more alienation and distrust as some studies suggest, racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity -- with the help of some kind of “social glue” like religion -- can indeed offer us the opportunity to become better American citizens.

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Comments

we all know to much of anything is bad for us. Why do people invole themselves in such things? I don't Know? reglion is ment to bring peace and unit yet, some us it as a excuse and reason to abuse. with a little unit we can all learn from each other.

I feel bringing together different racial groups is awesome no matter how you do it. To have it happen through ones beliefs and faith is even better though because it is done with passion and that just makes the bond tighter. There doesn't have to be tension between any groups just because of ones race, I think that is just a sign of ignorance. How can anyone feel or think that they are above/better than someone else due to the color of their skin?

i believe that religion is within there self, u are rasied to believe the ways of your parents, as you get older you are able to form your own opinion. so any issue with religon you will have to form our own opinion

i think that is jsut pure ignorance to have issues between racial groups. God created us all and if wanted us to be separated he would have done it. i believe having different racials groups together under the same belief is great! i go to a non denominatiol church and it is the best thing that has happened to me!

I think religion is something that is personal yet you share and praise in masses because were all equal and bleed red lets think about what we have in common instead of what we dont.

I think that religion is your personal preference and and I think that it is crazy to have issues between racial groups. Last, I think that religion is within yourself and the way you were raised.

Religion helped unite the different racial groups by all groups involved had to change a little: “Merging congregations has meant compromise for everyone. The immigrants who join the main congregation have to give up worshiping in their native languages. Older Southern Baptist parishioners have given up traditional hymns and organ music.”

I think religion is your own personal opinion. There shoulnt be any issues with racial groups because everyone is created equal and they should be able to worship how they want and any religion they feel that is right for them.

We all have the freedom to worship how we please. No one should judge others for their beliefs, you become just as ludacris to them as they are to you for judging. I believe in my savior Jesus Christ. Am i nieve enough to think everyone does? Well of course not. But taht doesnt mean I cant pray and beleive that my actions can help influence others to follow.

I think coming together with other races is important because you can learn from eachother. However I know it can be hard to give up certain things just to get to be apart of something bigger. But to make some big it takes a lot of little pieces. If you dont want to give up something then don't you can believe in Jesus how you want to and do the stuff you think is part of him. Everyone has a right to pray and believe in him in their own way.

They like different ethinc and cultural groups to bring in their own customs. People can combine and grow into a big and healthy family of Jesus and have a good time.

I think that religion is your personal preference but at the same time we were all created equal, so no one religion is better than the other

Religion helped unite the groups in this church by everyone accepting eachother for who they are rather than their racial background. They made comprimises such as cutting out some of the southern baptists traditions such as organ music and hyms. They made sacrifices for eachother in order to get along and come together as one. We can learn a lot from this church in the way that we may forget our cultural backgrounds, take people for who they are and find a greater nation joining together.

With all of the different races of people that lived in the area, many of the traditionalist people of the area moved away. This left an opportunity for the diverse group of people left, who were ready and willing to accept change, to attend church services together. The lessons that can be learned from this church are that many sociological things can be accomplished when differences are set aside to achieve a common goal.

Religion should not be a tool to unite racial groups. Its something that, not matter what religion it is, should unite people together. By uniting racial groups your actually dividing people.


Religion definitely unites people racially. The bond becomes the beliefs of the people not their race. It causes a unity to be evident like no other. They have a cause for which to stand and have faith in. This bond can even become a cause for which to live or die for; race and color become secondary.

Religion brings people together to serve a high purpose. Your race doesn't matter,you are equal.

RELIGION IS FOR EVERYONE. IF GOD WANTED US TO BE SEPERATED BY RACISM, HE'D HAVE DONE IT HIMSELF INSTEAD WE ARE DIFFERENT RACES BUT WE ALL BLEED RED. I KNOW THAT IS ACLICHE THAT IS USED ALOT BUT I DUNNO HOW ELSE TO EXPLAIN IT. HERES ONE WE ALL HAVE CLOSE TO THE SAME SKELETON WE DO ALL HAVE THE SAME BONES.

Religion can unite many different types or races of people. Religion isnt based on race but mostly based on our own personal beliefs, usually according to how we were raised. No matter what color we are on the outside, what we believe on the inside can bring us together. According to the article, religion is a positive power that can create social unity, and religion is somewhat of a "social glue" helping us to become better American citizens.

Religious separation because of race is dumb. It should bring us together, not separate us. I don't understand why there are "white" churches and "black" churches. I learned from this article that differences can be made if you unite as one. Let's all join as one wolfpack.

tryig to bring any religion together with another of jus sharing ideas from one to another is always a good thing that is if they are able to get along without any problem. learning about a new religion will give you a new light and perspective on others way of life and their way of thinking

reglious seperation because of race is just absurd everyone is created equal and thats that

Because many of the parishioners turned to the bible to see how to "deal" with the new immigrants, they found that they should welcome the immigrants into their community with love and acceptance. We can all stand to take a page from the Clarkston International Bible Church. Instead of turning away their fellow brothers and sisters, they welcomed them with open arms and invited them to their hearth. If we could all learn to live in peace and respect each other, I believe that the world would be a better place.

I think that race has less to deal with this then many of us are willing to admit now the question of the fellowship of customs ect. we know that when you have a tool that can be used and look at from diffrent points of views you get a unequal equality.
Alex Noble:
If I have been of service, if I have glimpsed more of the nature and essence of ultimate good, if I am inspired to reach wider horizons of thought and action, if I am at peace with myself, it has been a successful day.

Religion helped to unite the different racial groups in the church by them seeing that Jesus prayed for unity. Lessons learned are the positive power from religion for unity and that change are apart of everyday life.

Everyone was created equal. I think it is crazy for someone to believe they have been made any better than one person in this world. God created us not to judge people. I love getting together with people with different religous views. It's amazing to watch people join together with such a strong bond and make it even stronger through their faiths.

I believe that Christ is the answer for all things big or small. Reading this blog is not surprising to me at all. My church has every ethinic group. No one is turn around. There's power in faith in Jesus and when we get together as one we can radically change our community for the better.

The name of my church is WordAlive and there no one is turn away regardless of race. We're off of highway 78 right before you get to the I-20 exit to birgmingham. Big church on the hill to your right. Love to see you there.

I think people have their own opinion about religion. Race don't matter no more everyone is equal.

We all bleed red. How powerful is this statement, as so many people tend to forget it, or they do as if it wasn`t a fact. We are all bound together to communicate, to share and to be in relationship with each other, want it or not. That`s how life is, and it may as well be accepted as a gift to share in love. i don`t get why it`s so complicated to open ourselves to new horizons... Life is just such a wonder, we`ll never realize that unless I get out there and smile at u, amd give u a chance to meet the divine in me. If religion can achieve this goal, awesome! But before religion, there is my insifght nature, whic is a lover and a carer, deny it or not. Why not just set it free?

The church help them untie because it help them unite. I think the lesson is obvious, it teaches to stand up and believe we can make a difference even when it comes to dealing with different races, gender, and age.

People of diffrent races were attending the church. The lessons learned is that there is still racism is still a problem and we can still over come it.

The religion helped to unite the people, because they focused on what Jesus said about the unity of the fellowship. The lesson that can be learned is that it doesnt matter what background you come from, we are all children of God, made different for a reason, and he loves us all the same. Thats what the church was doing. We as christians are supposed to come together and unite, not discriminate against each other because of race and background, because through love, not discrimination and judgement, is how you will lead people to Christ.

Religion is one of those things that can bring people together for the right reasons. In the post is a clear example. Sacrifices had to be made on both sides for the better. One can take from the article that religion may be the only absolute way to knock down racial barriers. Jesus's example is a perfect one.

I am a very spiritual person. I believe religion may be the strongest aspect of anything. Following Jesus allowed them to put their differences aside and come together. One can learn from the article that racism and seperation is very much alive and can be resolved.

I feel like religion is within your self, people are raised to believe what religion their parents taught them to believe. I believe as we become older and wiser we're able to believe in whatever religion we choose to believe in. Religion should not be a tool to unite racial groups. Its something that, not matter what religion it is, should unite people together. By uniting racial groups your actually dividing people.

Many people like to bring religion into play when questioning why races worship seperatley. I'd like to think that what's in our bibles as Christians is not what seperates us. It's many variations within the African American culture, in comparison with the typical "white southern baptist". Some people may like to say it's all basically got to do with the fact that the black church came together ESPECIALLY after slavery, but think of how tightly that culture holds them together? It's hard to mesh aspects of both white and black church functions together, but in the end it would be wonderful to say we worshiped in one accord, black, white, any other race.

Our world can be a better place if we all could except each race. God does not want anybody to be judged he should only be the one to do the judging. And what does that matter just because you do not accept a race does not make them disappear or evaporate, they will always be around as long as they are. Religion has made a difference on race which is good. everyone are supposed to be treated equal it just does not happen that way. one person can make a difference in someones life, sometime make or break them

I believe that more than race and religion separates people, I also feel that as long as people are breathing they will have conflict. What if everyone of us did a random act of kindness everyday? I think the world would begin to be a better place for all of us.Perhaps acts of kindness would begin new thought patterns and even change stereotypes with time.

I come from a small town church that has no diversity. It makes me so happy to see a church that is able to include all races into one service. God made every person on this earth and he made every person to love one another. I wish that more churches could come together as this church did and bring the bond of God to many more people. The church is allowing people from all walks of life to come together for one purpose and it is a great thing!

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