Sociologist George Yancey Says Churches Can Lead Dialogue to Bridge Racial Divide

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Because Christians recognize the reality of sin, churches have the potential to lead honest interracial dialogue that could unite a polarized nation, a sociologist told a Texas Christian Community Development Network conference.

“New models of interracial communication coming from the church will strengthen Christians’ witness in an post-Christian society,” George Yancey, professor of sociology at the University of North Texas in Denton, told the No Need Among You Conference at Cliff Temple Baptist Church in Dallas.

Although Christians have been involved to some degree in the political movements that grew around the #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter hashtags on social media, each originated out of a secular mindset that fails to consider the reality of sin and human depravity, Yancey asserted in a keynote address.

In contrast, churches hold a realistic view of human nature that acknowledges sinful motives, attitudes and actions—not only in the other person who is “different,” but also in themselves, he noted.

Reality of a racialized society

“Whatever we have today, it’s not true communication,” said Yancey, an African-American. “We live in racialized society—a society where race matters profoundly for differences in life experiences, life opportunities and social relationships.”

In a racialized society, people hold drastically different views about how to define racism, he insisted. White Americans tend to define racism in terms of overt actions from one individual to another, while people of color generally believe structural and social institutions can perpetuate racism, even when individuals do not intend to be racist, he explained.

Unfortunately, sociological studies indicate deeply entrenched views of racism as exclusively individual or as societal often are even more pronounced in churches than in society at large, he noted.

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SOURCE: The Baptist Standard
Ken Camp