• 'Where are you from' workshops will help the Caucasian congregation track its roots with instructions on how to use DNA testing.
• A 'Celebrate you roots' ceremony will bring white people from various ancestries together to form a bond of ethnic self esteem.
It's called the European Ancestry Church Program and its catching on with white congregations across America. It's success is exciting and overwhelming as thousands of white people frame their identities.
The program has affected the lives of no less than 100,000 white people including such notables as Oprah Winfrey, Isaiah Washington, Common, Condoleezza Rice, Cory Booker, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Jealous and Andrew Young.
Oops. Wait a minute. Those are black people. Something is amiss.
It turns out there is no European Ancestry Church Program. It actually called the African Ancestry Church Program. And, because it's emphasis is on black people rather than white people, must we conclude that it is racist?
In a culture where freedom of association is a cherished ideal, one could not fault any congregation for opting to determine it's membership by ethnicity.
In a religion where orthodoxy transcends ethnicity to embrace the Great Commission, one could fault any congregation that makes itself ethnic exclusive.
Affinity groups, such as non-white and gay communities, often complain when they are disenfranchised, discriminated against, or made to feel unwelcome. We have to wonder, therefore, if the African Ancestry Church Program isn't following a path of hypocrisy.
On one hand, blacks complain when they feel excluded. On the other hand, they contradict that complaint with such exclusion-based programs.
We wonder if the black congregations who participate in the African Ancestry Church Program consider how non-blacks feel? Are these churches not concerned about disenfranchising Asians, Hispanics, Pacific Islanders and ethnic Germans? Or do they maintain the failed argument that they have be 'put upon' and, therefore, are justified in overt and intentional racial discrimination that hurts others.
I, for one, would not be comfortable associating with any church that practices overt racial discrimination.
On the other hand, I understand that ethnic groups have a vested interest in protecting and preserving both their history and their progeny.
My complaint is not with the blacks who wish to explore their heritage. Rather, my complaint is with the hypocrisy that Western culture, alone, is condemned as racist for respecting its identity.
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