A recent survey showed that most US pastors believe that it is a responsibility of the church to condemn racial discrimination.
Barna Group asked 400 pastors and 94% of them said the church “has a responsibility to denounce racism.” The survey was conducted from June 4-15, a few weeks after the death of George Floyd in police custody which triggered anti-racism protests in different states, reports Premier Christian News.
And so we’re seeing a shift in this latest poll that pastors are speaking up from the pulpit, making very public statements, saying we do have race issues we must deal with. —Brooke Hempell, Barna Group’s Senior Vice President of Research
Large crowds gathered in different cities in protest of racial inequality and police brutality with some rallies becoming violent and dangerous. The study found that 76% of pastors support peaceful protests, 15% disagreed and 8% of them did not have an opinion on the issue.
“It may surprise some, but it did not surprise me that 76% of church leaders believe the church should support peaceful protests or demonstrations happening across the nation,” said Barna President David Kinnaman. He welcomed the results of the study and its implications that church leaders in the country “are as open as they’ve ever been” in speaking out on racial discrimination.
In an interview with CBN News, Barna Group’s Senior Vice President of Research Brooke Hempell, pointed out the change in pastors’ perspective when talking about racism in the country. “And so we’re seeing a shift in this latest poll that pastors are speaking up from the pulpit, making very public statements, saying we do have race issues we must deal with.”
Racial injustice is a delicate topic and the church may have been quiet about it in the past. “There is all kinds of diversity in our church. If I celebrate that diversity but never address the disparity to me that’s hypocrisy,” said Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church in Matthews, NC.
Brian Fisher, the senior pastor at Grace Bible Church in Texas, said, “I think one of the things that we can do for our community, and not just the church, the body of Christ, but for our community is to demonstrate in front of them this is what good dialogue looks like. When we can love one another, respect one another, even disagree with one another, and then move forward together.”
Hempell said some pastors are hesitant to discuss racism because of different factors. She explained that members of the congregation may not be open to discussing the topic, racism is a political issue, and pastors may feel unfit to discussing the sensitive subject.
“But honestly, there’s been so many who have gotten past those barriers in the last couple of weeks and said ‘You know what. I may not know the right thing to say, but we have to talk about this and I have to be honest about that,’ said Hempell. “It’s better to engage in conversation than to turn our face the other way. So we are definitely seeing that shift.”