A sociologist tested what denominations were most open to new people from different races. His team sent e-mails purportedly from whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians to different churches, asking the pastors about attending their church.
Evangelicals overwhelmingly answered the e-mails and encouraged the new people, of whatever race, to attend. Mainline liberal denominations, on the other hand, for all of their emphasis on social justice, were not nearly so welcoming. Catholics didn’t do so well either.
Interestingly, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, classified with the “evangelicals,” came in at second place in welcoming people of different races (after Willow Creek). The much more liberal Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, however, came in third from the bottom.
Why do you think this is?
From Bradley Wright, Dear Pastor, Can I Come to Your Church? | Christianity Today (subscription required):
Evangelical and Catholic churches varied little across the letters. For every 100 evangelical churches that responded to white-sounding names, 97 replied to black names, 100 to Hispanic, and 94 to Asian. These differences were not statistically significant. Likewise with the Catholic parishes. (Though, since we included relatively fewer parishes, our tests of them were statistically weaker than for evangelical and mainline churches.)The mainline Protestant churches? That is where the discrimination happened. For every 100 mainline churches that replied to white-sounding names, 89 replied to black names, 86 to Hispanic, and only 72 to Asian. Think about it. A letter simply having the “wrong” name significantly reduced these churches’ likelihood of welcoming a potential visitor.