Black people from all walks of life are sharing their experiences of racism, why they’re hopeful about the current movement and how we can heal as a country.
Evangelical leader Tony Evans is one of the most respected Christian pastors in the country. He shared his thoughts on how the church played a role in racism and how it can lead in the solution.
“As a boy growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, I had to deal with my father explaining to me why we couldn’t go into certain restaurants due to segregation,” said Evans.
As a 70-year-old black man, Evans says he has experienced his fair share of racism and discrimination.
“I’ve gotten pulled over by police because I was in the wrong neighborhood,” he said. “’Why are you driving in this neighborhood?’ In college I went to a white church and the church told me that I was not welcome there.”
Segregation nearly kept Evans from becoming the first African American to earn a Doctor of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary.
“If I would have applied a few years earlier, they would not have let me in, because that was part of a whole history of segregation, that was even in the theological religious realm,” he said.
Early in his preaching, Evans says radio stations told him a black speaker might offend too many white listeners.
“Circumstance after circumstance like that where I have in my sphere, both secular and sacred, where I have seen unrighteous decisions made on the basis of race and it contradicted the theology I was learning,” he said.
Evans says the church was also a major contributor to racism today.
“If it had never endorsed the unrighteous system of slavery in America, if it never gave theological validation for it, if it never supported the social construct of it, then we would not have it, because it would have trained its people to infiltrate the culture with a righteous and just world view,” he said.
Evans, who wrote a book on race called “Oneness Embraced,” says churches need to lead in the solution through service.
“Black Christians and white Christians crossing racial lines to serve other people in need,” said Evans. “When we decide we are going to cross the line to adopt public schools, to adopt the local police precinct, to adopt the central services in the community, to handle the homelessness in the community. We could turn this thing around in a very short period of time because they would see us leading the way, not merely reacting to what people are doing at either extreme in the culture.”
Evans laid out a more detailed national three-point plan for how churches can respond to racism.
“This is where God must be brought into play. And I must say, if he is left out, there will be no solution because he's the one who is ticked off about it.”