Robert Putnam’s American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us is a must read for the serious minded Christian. In relation to race in chapter 9 (entitled “Diversity, Ethnicity, & Religion) he makes a few interesting observations.
After decades of being the least racially tolerant group, evangelicals are now virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the population when it comes to racial attitudes. Putnam argues that evangelicals have simply followed the national trends: never leading, always following, and now have finally caught up. He also states that evangelical megachurches (along with catholic parishes) are the only noticeably racially diverse religious communities in America.
His observations connect with one of my previous observations that things are looking better when you look at the overall Christian landscape concerning race and faith. If the reconciliation journey was a map of the US with the beginning point New York City and the ending point LA, perhaps we are in Pittsburgh? Maybe even St. Louis? We definitely aren’t in Kansas, Dorothy, but we have made some significant progress.