50 years ago this week, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech which helped usher in the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Was it enough? It was a start. And 50 years later we have made great progress toward racial equality. But there is still work to be done. Six days a week—Monday through Saturday—there are still inequalities between the races in terms jobs, pay, standard of living, and other economic and material measures. But fortunately, the gap is slowly closing.
But what about that seventh day, Sunday? Sure, whites continue to have it better the first six days of the week where work and material measures dominate. But on the seventh day, Sunday, blacks continue to have vastly superior church services than whites. In other words, in the spiritual realm, the gap between black and whites at church on Sunday mornings is as stark in 2013 as it was in 1963.
Dr King’s historic speech in 1963 was conspicuous in its absence about referencing lackluster white church services that Caucasians have been forced to endure for several centuries.
And so… 50 years after much of the economic racial divide is being closed, it is time for someone to raise the question about whether the spiritual racial divide will ever be bridged. After all, what is true color-blindness if any blind person can be escorted into a church and know instantly whether he or she is in a white or black church? Predominantly Black churches tend to have lots of energy and Spirit. Predominantly White churches tend to have lots of quiet orderliness and throat clearing —and people whispering, “Excuse me. What time is it, please?”
Worst of all, there are no historic laws or cultural prejudices that caused this disparity. There were no faux “separate but equal” laws that allowed black churches to be more alive and fun while white churches seemed dry and stodgy. That’s right. We weren’t even discriminated against. We white folks did this to ourselves.
Perhaps it’s time someone in my race stood up and said “Is this really the best we can do?” Or more to the point, “Will going to church for white folks ever look like it is as spiritual, as inspired, and as inspiring and as it is for our African-American brothers and sisters?”
May I get an Amen out there?
Unfortunately, no. Not if you are white. Because, like, “What would people say?” Right?
C’mon folks. Let’s dedicate ourselves to make white church the new black in 2013. White folks can dream, too, you know. And this is my dream as a way of celebrating and honoring the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s historic speech. And, with hope, closing the racial divide in America just a little bit more.
(Footnote: Of course, my church is the exception to all of this. But could still be a tad more soulful. With both a lower case and upper case “S” But I’m nitpicking. The only other exception is Lyle Lovett. (See below.) Perhaps Lyle Lovett can lead us from the low-lying foothills of churchiness to the inspired mountain top of the fully engaged church services of the Promised Land. And without programs to pass out. Anyway, that’s my dream.)