Texas pastor Tony Evans says churches have an obligation to help fix the current divide in America because churches stood on the wrong side of multiple issues of race during the past 200 years.
“The only reason this problem has existed this deep for this long is the failure of the church,” Evans said on the Don Kroah Show of racism and racial injustice. Evans is the author of Oneness Embraced and the pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas.
“Had the church not endorsed slavery, had the church not endorsed ... segregation, Jim Crow and many of the systems, [then] they would not have been adopted and perpetuated in the culture. So since the church contributed to this mess, the church has got to fix it,” he said.
Evans gave examples of how he has experienced racism.
“I was the first African American to earn a doctorate from Dallas Seminary, but if I would have applied a few years before I did, they would not let me in because of the laws of segregation,” he said on the Don Kroah Show. “The only reason I'm on radio is [because] James Dobson intervened, because the radio stations told me that a black speaker would be too offensive to their white listeners. He intervened, and that opened up some doors. ...
“When I was in college in Atlanta, I walked in with one of my professors to a white church, and they let it be known that ... I was not welcome there. And this was one of the leading churches in the Atlanta, Ga., area.”
Evans said he knows “what it is like to be stopped by police and asked, ‘What are you doing in this neighborhood?’”
The church in America, Evans said, has the answer to heal the divide.
“Black Christians and white Christians crossing racial lines to serve other people in need,” Evans told Scripps National. “When we decide we are going to cross the line to adopt public schools, to adopt the local police precinct, to adopt the central services in the community, to handle the homelessness in the community. We could turn this thing around in a very short period of time because they would see us leading the way, not merely reacting to what people are doing at either extreme in the culture.”
Referencing sermons against racism and racial injustice, Evans said, “I don't think enough pulpits are proclaiming it.”
Evans also spoke out against calls to defund the police.
“That's a disaster. ... You must have order. The police are designed to enforce the law, so that we can live safely,” he told the Don Kroah Show. “Now, are there reforms needed in places? Absolutely. Do people need to know how to relate to people who are different than they are? ... Absolutely. But what you don't do is deconstruct the system that is necessary to keep people safe. Because you cannot flourish personally, economically or familially if you're not safe to do so. And that makes the police force – righteously done – essential.”
Photo courtesy: Creative Commons/The Urban Alternative
Video courtesy: Tony Evans
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.