Resolution from the Religious Narrative and Racial Control Working Group at the National Summit on Race

Resolution from the Religious Narrative and Racial Control Working Group at the National Summit on Race August 13, 2014
R3 Editor

Follow Andre on Twitter @aejohnsonphd

Recently my wife Lisa and I attended the National Summit on Race in Chicago from August 5-8, 2014. The goal of the Summit was bold and ambitious. We were first tasked to endorse a visionary and contemporary Declaration against Racism; second, to develop a framework for a Strategic Action Agenda against Racism in the nation and world; and finally, create new and energize old networks of influences and resources to create the necessary paradigm shifts of an Anti-Racism/Human Rights movement and course of action.

To achieve our goal, the conveners, led by Dr. Iva E. Carruthers, General Secretary of the Samuel DeWitt Procter Conference, divided us into 13 praxis teams based on our declared interests at the time of registration. While Lisa, with her focus on conflict resolution and reconciliation efforts in tension filled spaces landed her with the “Health, Wellness and Bioethics” team, I found myself with an eclectic group of folks on the “Religious Narratives” team.

Each praxis team had four core guiding questions that the conveners wanted us to discuss while in our groups. On the first of four gathering sessions, we talked about the basic assumptions, constructs, or “facts” critical to our understanding of race and how resistance strategies developed in regards to race, structural racism and white privilege. In the second session, we discussed the mega-shifts that we felt change the course of race analysis. The one that jumped out at us right away was the way in which society has shifted to a colorblind rhetoric and how that rhetoric helps shape perception of what racism “actually” looks like.

However, the highlight for me were the third and fourth sessions. In those sessions, by building on the first two, the conveners charged us with creating a declaration statement and a plan of action. Our in the Religious Narrative Praxis Team focused of course of religion, but on how the church—especially the Black Church should function in the future. Our group challenged the notion of what masquerades as “authentic Christianity” and how that toxic brand of Christianity has come under the influence of politics. We also recognized the “declining significance” of allorganized religion to an ever growing population of people who just do not seek spiritual guidance and wisdom from establish houses of worship or recognized leaders of religion.

In responding to this, we called for a clear, authentic and affirming prophetic voice speaking from all locations, but especially on the margins. We also promised to dismantle the blatant sexism and make privilege housed in many of our worship facilities and embedded in our theologies. We also called for the creation and support of collaborative efforts with non-traditional and non-institutional faith efforts that promote social justice. Finally, we promised to hold each other accountable to make sure that by the next gathering, we would have achieved important benchmarks that will highlight our success.

Below is our complete resolution.

Resolution from the Religious Narrative and Racial Control Working Group at the National Summit on Race

Whereas the predominant expressions of Christianity in the US and internationally emphasize imperialism, commercialism, radical individualism, and prosperity as the primary goal of faith; and

Whereas Black Women are overcoming systemic sexism in the church by cracking through “glass ceilings” and building their own houses of worship; and

Whereas messages from many church sectors, interpreted through media outlets, reveal that much of Christianity is now co-opted by partisan politics; and

Whereas many observers and critics decry what they call the “bourgeoisification” of the Black Church; and 

Whereas we are confronted by the growing irrelevance, declining influence, and loss of authenticity of organized religion in general, and the institutional church in particular;

Be it resolved that the Religious Narrative and Racial Control Working Group of the National Summit on Race, meeting 5-8 August 2014 in Chicago, IL, calls for the reemergence of an authentic, clear, and more effective prophetic voice which speaks to different contexts and uses multiple media platforms; and

Be it further resolved that we confess to and actively dismantle sexism and male privilege in Afro-Religious institutions; and

Be it further resolved we call for the creation and support of just and socially impactful collaborations that are non-traditional and arise from people who are both inside and outside of religious institutions.

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!