September 28, 2009
Most White people who don’t live in the South, never discuss church or religion. It’s considered rude. Most educated White people don’t go to church, listen to Christian radio or television and try to avoid people who identify themselves as “Born Again,” Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness. Most White people are comfortable around Catholics. Perhaps the fact that they are confessing so often, makes the rest of us feel that they’re just like us. My children have never been in a church and none of their White friends went to church either. Instead they played sports on Sundays, usually soccer or basketball.
What’s odd about this, is that Americans when asked about their private activities usually admit to some form of prayer on a regular basis. However, this communication with a Higher Power is not usually discussed with others.
Part of the reason that educated Whites are careful to avoid practitioners of radical forms of Christianity, is that these forms of Christianity are often about exclusion rather than inclusion, hate rather than love. Jerry Falwell was famously quoted saying, “Christians, like slaves and soldiers, ask no questions,” and “if you’re not a born again Christian, you’re a failure as a human being.” My personal favorite Falwell quote is “AIDS is not just God’s punishment for homosexuals; it is God’s punishment for the society that tolerates homosexuals.” That sums up why it’s hard to take modern Christianity seriously. It’s too stupid. It’s funny that most of the really crazy White preachers seem to come from the South and that really crazy preachers who get caught with prostitutes, preach hate against homosexuals and others who are not part of their movement are usually White guys. The really crazy religious people are usually White.
Which is why, if you are White and religious, and you aren’t a nut case, you try to keep it to yourself, so you don’t have to explain to educated White people that you aren’t loony or hateful or even homophobic, you just happen to believe in God and you really like something about sitting in a church once or twice a week getting into the mind frame whether it is sacred, divine or simply charitable. Going to church if you are White is usually a pretty quiet experience. People aren’t jumping around unless you’re Pentecostal. Someone preaches, you listen, there is some singing, you leave.
African Americans are doing something right. White people should learn a thing or two.