According to a new study undertaken by Barna research group, just a tiny fraction of the American church feels obliged to repent of the country’s racist past.
In Barna’s latest publication entitled, “Where Do We Go from Here?,” just over 1,500 practicing Christians were asked what they believe should be done to make amends for the decades of racist history that plagued the United States.
Respondents were presented with several different answers to choose from, including nothing, "repair the damage, "repent," "pursue restitution," "lament," and "don't know." Shockingly, just 16 percent of American Christians asserted that the Church needed to repent for America's racist history of slavery and segregation.
Among African-American participants, the percentage of those who believe repentance to be the way forward was at 24 percent, whereas among the white respondents it plummeted to just 13 percent.
Interestingly, some 26 percent of all respondents indicated they "don't know" when asked about what the church’s response should be to historical racism, perhaps indicating a lack of insight or understanding on the issue.
"This could represent confusion over the specific options provided, which range from the symbolic to the material, or it could simply be a way of saying respondents are unsure what should — or even what can — be done by churches to help with racial reconciliation," Barna noted.
In light of the survey’s results, well-known left-leaning Christian leader, Jim Wallis told the Christian Post that “until the Church, notably the white Church, acknowledges its history and complicity with racism, we cannot move towards healing.”
Often, white Christians “refuse to recognize that racism is more than a problem from the past,” Wallis added, before noting that “until the operative word in 'white Christian' is Christian, we won’t move towards a place of healing.”
Wallis insisted that an active repentance “for the sin of racism” will “bring congregations together."
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Will Maule is a British journalist who has spent the past several years working as a digital news editor. Since earning a degree in international relations and politics, Will has developed a particular interest in covering ethical issues, human rights and global religious persecution. Will's work has been featured in various outlets including The Spectator, Faithwire, CBN News, Spiked, The Federalist and Christian Headlines. Follow him on Twitter at @WillAMaule.