The demographic shape of Christianity around the world has changed dramatically in recent decades. North America and Europe no longer represent the majority voice in the faith.
But change is also happening in the United States, where Protestants no longer make up a majority of the population and where Christians from around the world have come to start new lives. And yet old attitudes -- including prejudicial and xenophobic ones -- continue to arise from predominantly white sections of American Christianity.
This problem recently was the focus of this New York Times piece, in which a theology professor linked readers to an open letter to evangelical churches from Asian-American Christians.
That letter, said this, among other things: "Over the past decade, Christian evangelicalism has been the source of repeated and offensive racial stereotyping, and Asian Americans have been inordinately affected."
The Christian church is the last place one should expect to find racist attitudes and language, given the foundational teaching of the faith that all people are God's children. Or, as one of the great hymns puts it, "In Christ there is no East or West, in him no South or North; but one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide earth."
And yet everyone knows that Christianity has produced people who have even defended slavery. It's time for such radical disconnects to end, and I'm glad that people are pointing out in public what needs to be done.
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ANOTHER ROADBLOCK FOR LITERALISTS
As teachers in Kenya are discovering, if you let your students look at 18-million-year-old skeletons in a museum, it's hard to teach a literalistic reading of the Bible that insists the Earth is just a few thousands years old. True, but it should make it easier to teach the difference between literal truth and metaphor.
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P.S.: My latest National Catholic Reporter column -- an open letter to Pope Francis about Bishop Robert Finn -- now is online. To read it, click here.