One place where segregation has a particular stronghold is most likely your local church.
According to the Equal Justice Initiative, 86% of American churches do not have significant racial diversity. The Pew Research Center reports that 57% of congregants attend a predominantly white congregation.
But what is the impact of worshiping separately?
“It is certainly the fruit of the poisonous fruit of racism,” says Nicholas Pearce, associate pastor at the Chicago Apostolic Church of God.
Pearce says separate worship is the foundation of the American version of Christianity.
“Not only was racism and racial inequality condoned by the church, but in some cases it was perpetuated, theologized and sanctioned by the church,” he said.
Reverend John Edgerton is the senior pastor of First United Church of Oak Park. He says separate worship is a form of white supremacy.
“We in the church are heirs to a legacy in which the economic and political power of this country is concentrated in white hands and has been blessed in the church,” Edgerton said. “Often the church itself has become a focus and we are living the story of this nation in our places of worship.”
Pearson says enough churches have sanctioned white supremacy theology for the national conscience to conclude that’s what Christianity means.
Edgerton said segregation happens because economic and political power is held in too few hands. He says segregation cuts off God’s dream for mankind for God’s beloved kingdom.
FIRST: Segregation is part of WTTW’s award-winning multi-year multimedia initiative focused on ffirst-hand perspectives of people facing critical issues in Chicago.
Throughout 2022, WTTW’s FIRSTHAND: SEGREGATION will put a human face on the impact of racial divisions on individuals, the city and our region through a documentary series, expert talks, text and visual journalism in partnership with South Side Weekly and the Invisible Institute, and community discussions and engagement in partnership with the Folded Map Project and the Metropolitan Planning Council. Visit the website (www.wttw.com/firsthand) to explore the project.