From the Worldwide Faith News archives

APCE Workshop Examines Racism in the Gospel Context

Date 04 May 1996 15:23:11


96065     APCE Workshop Examines Racism in the Gospel Context 
                         by Julian Shipp 
CHICAGO--While the O.J. Simpson murder trial verdict reinforced the 
divisive power of racism in America, the gospel's message of truth and love 
remain compellingly constant. 
     That assertion was explored in a Feb. 9 workshop titled "Understanding 
the Root Causes of Racism in the Context of the Gospel" at the Association 
of Presbyterian Christian Educators (APCE) annual meeting here.  The 
workshop was led by Homer Ashby, professor of pastoral care and dean of 
master's-level programs at McCormick Theological Seminary. 
     The workshop focused on the root causes of racism as revealed in the 
larger societal cycle of racism. Participants learned not only about the 
basic causes of racism, but where and how to intervene in order to combat 
     "If we can prevent racism from occurring, then we don't have to get 
into all of the stuff that goes into healing it," Ashby said. "I see this 
as very much relevant to the gospel and the gospel message." 
     Ashby said racism involves a dominant group having prejudicial 
thoughts against a person or group of people and having the power to put 
those thoughts into action. 
     He said "racial conditioning" results from the dissemination of 
misinformation about a person or group of people. 
     "Misinformation about the realities of black lives and white lives is 
often perpetrated," Ashby said. "And unless that misinformation is 
challenged, it is going to continue and go on." 
     For example, Ashby said, many Americans believe that young black girls 
are having children, going on welfare at alarming rates and crippling the 
national economy. That, he said, is simply not true. 
     According to the book "Two Nations: Black and White, Separate, Hostile 
and Unequal" by Andrew Hacker, the pregnancy rate for black women ages 
15-19 is 51.2 percent and for whites, 46.4 percent. 
     According to Hacker, 40.2 percent of black families receive welfare 
and 38.4 percent of white families receive welfare, a difference of only 2 
percent. His book cites 1989 statistics, the latest available. 
     Therefore, Ashby said, it is imperative that Christians work hard both 
to keep themselves from spreading misinformation and to see that others do 
not do it either. Citing John 14:6, he said Christians are obligated to 
both seek and speak the truth. 
     "Jesus said,  I am the way, the truth and the life,'" Ashby said. 
Christians should not participate in giving misinformation, and when we 
tell the truth, we participate in his life and the life of the gospel. 
     "Jesus fought constantly against separation and comfortable 
surroundings," Ashby said, "compelling people to stretch the envelope of 
their faith and boundaries." 
     Ashby said children are our best human models for addressing the root 
causes of racism, since they are not born with racial hatred or immediately 
conditioned by prejudice. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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