FAQ's FOR THE RACE & CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY INITIATIVE
1. Why do we use the language of reconciliation?
God's restorative work in the area of race relations can be described with terms such as "racial reconciliation," "racial justice," and "racial healing." Each concept is rooted in scripture and raises different feelings among people of various groups.
Racial Education for White Evangelicals has chosen to lead with the language of reconciliation because, historically, it has been used by the White evangelical community, the population that our ministry seeks to serve. We may adjust this language when focusing our efforts outside of the White evangelical community.
We acknowledge that some prefer to not use "reconciliation" because it:
has focused on interpersonal relationships to the exclusion of systemic realities
seems to assume a time of conciliation, even though racial oppression has always been present in the U.S.
has been tainted by evangelicals' poor engagement in issues related to race
We desire to restore the term by helping White evangelicals understand both its problems and its rich and holistic biblical meaning—a meaning that remedies many of the critiques associated with the terms' common and incomplete understanding.
In using reconciliation language, we draw people back to God's Word as the foundation and standard by which we evaluate evangelical's engagement in race relations, past, present, and future.
Click here to read our glossary entry on our understanding of racial reconciliation.
2. Why do we capitalize “Black” and “White”?
Many sources, such as the AP and US Census choose to capitalize racial and ethnic categories.
We capitalize both terms in recognition that they are racial categories. Furthermore, we capitalize Black in recognition that this term can function as an ethnic group identity among this community. (To learn more about the argument for capitalizing “Black,” check out these articles from the New York Times and Huffington Post.)
Though White people may not be accustomed to seeing “White” capitalized or otherwise having attention being drawn to their race, it is our desire that in doing so we can raise their level of awareness around their own race. It is hoped that in doing so, White people may take time to consider how their race shapes their experience, culture, and identity.
3. What Determines Whether or not Someone is an “Evangelical?”
Do you see yourself as evangelical? If so, we’d be happy to work with you. We work with anyone who self-identifies as evangelical. We focus our work on White evangelicals, but are happy to help White people of any Christian tradition engage the work of racial reconciliation.
4. Do you work with White people who do not self-identify as evangelical?
Yes, we work with White people of any Christian tradition, though we are less familiar with the experiences, perspectives, and theological frameworks of people who do not self-identify as evangelical. We would be happy to learn with you about how we can customize our services to your faith community.
5. How many White evangelicals are there in the US?
There are 90 - 100 million Americans who self-identify as evangelical. In 2000, nearly ninety percent of Americans who identified themselves as evangelical were White.
Though people of color may ascribe to evangelical beliefs, some may choose to not self-identify as evangelical due to the largely separate histories of White Christians and Christians of color in the United States. This historical division has contributed to different political orientations and levels of social engagement. For example, White Christians’ general support of slavery and lack of involvement in the Civil Rights movement, has contributed to many Black people choosing to not self-identify as evangelical.