Racism in America's religious institutions can be traced to the very roots of America. Original religious views on other races had little bearing in everyday life. White Christians `paid little attention to slaves' souls' (22), and often viewed them as less than human. In the early 1730's, evangelicalism began to gain strength amongst slave holders. It was believed that being Christian made the slaves better workers and obey their masters more fully. The movement to `Christianize' slaves was fully put forth by evangelist George Whitefield in 1740 (25). He traveled the countryside, `saving' slaves from all parts of the country, and Christianizing them to become better slaves. George Whitefield's main point in the Christianizing of slaves was simple, ."..God allowed slavery for larger purposes, including the Christianization and uplifting of the heathen Africans." (27).
The Revolutionary War, starting in the 1770's, brought new life and conflict to the issues of slavery. By the late 1770's, many evangelicals had begun to denounce slavery as a sin, and a practice that `brings dishonor to the Christian name' (28). In 1808, a celebration for the abolition of slave trade was staged. Many prominent evangelicals of the time were on hand to speak. ...
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... It is imperative that white and black churches work together to continue to find solutions to closing the racial gap that has opened in the last forty years.
White evangelicalism has been working to help increase racial diversity amongst religion. However, their efforts seem to be failing. It is becoming more and more apparent through history, social life, and politics, that white evangelicalism is not doing the right things to help desegregate the black evangelicals. "Despite devoting consid¬erable time and energy to solving the problem of racial division, white evangelicalism likely does more to perpetuate the racialized society than to reduce it" (170). Much more needs to be done in the coming decades to ensure that we can reduce racial inequalities in the church, and hopefully one day close the gap to nothing, creating an all inclusive Christian church.
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