Redeeming the Evangelical Movement from White Supremacy


When you hear the phrase “white supremacy,” what comes to mind? Maybe you think of white men dressed in white sheets and committed to the lynching of black bodies. Maybe you think of white men with bald heads and red shoe strings in their black boots, men who are committed to the doctrine of white superiority and black inferiority—a commitment that they’re willing to enforce by means of violence if necessary. Or maybe you think of De Jure segregation, overt racist speech, and other overt corporate and individual expressions of blatant racism committed by white people against black and brown people.

In this piece, white supremacy means the prioritizing of whiteness (i.e. the values, experiences, agendas, and privileges of those socially constructed as white) and the devaluing of or the dehumanizing of black and brown people (i.e. non-white people). This prioritizing empowers and advances the agendas and ideologies of the white majority for the purpose of benefiting the white majority and those who assimilate within the white majority culture.

But white supremacy manifests itself in many ordinary and less explicit ways in society everyday, via economic, educational, housing, and judicial inequality. White supremacy is also apparent by the various implicit biases and micro-aggressions that black and brown people experience in a society that prioritizes whiteness, assumes whiteness as normal, and considers non-whiteness as an abnormality. The following lists 11 observations as to how white and minority Christians can redeem the evangelical movement from white supremacy.

11 Observations

First, white and minority Christians should not limit the reconciliation discussion to the black versus white divide (Eph. 2:1-22). Jesus died and resurrected to unify all things and all people to himself.

Second, minority Christians need white allies in the work of reconciliation, not white saviors.

That is, we need a national and international multi-racial partnership of churches working together in our communities to advance the gospel of racial reconciliation.

As a racial minority in the evangelical movement, I have observed that many of our key leaders are white. And when a crisis arises, our white leaders are often the spokespersons for our denominations or our churches—even if the crises that emerge more directly affect minority communities. And many white Christian leaders too often try to speak for black and brown Christians, instead of giving them the space in the evangelical movement to speak for themselves.

In my view, if Christians are going to take serious strides toward liberating the evangelical movement from white supremacy, we must listen to and include even more qualified underrepresented voices of color in key spaces (i.e. conferences, publishing, institutions, etc.) in the movement.

Third, Christian leaders should enlarge their ethnic circles to include more black and brown people. If white and minority Christians only walk in predominately white circles or only read books written by white men, then they will have a limited perspective of the world—in fact, they will have a white male perspective of the world.

Fourth, more minorities should partner with majority culture churches to help lead them in the work of multi-ethnic ministry, if context allows for it, instead of choosing a church based solely on ethnic or cultural preferences.

Fifth, many evangelical conferences desperately need to become more ethnically inclusive. And white conferences need to stop choosing token minorities with celebrity status to fill sacred white spaces at conferences and on platforms. I regularly speak throughout the country in many multi-ethnic and predominately minority contexts. And I can testify firsthand that the evangelical movement has MANY minority brothers and sisters whose voices need to be heard. And I’m thankful for those evangelical conferences that regularly invite us, not as tokens, and joyfully desire our voices to be heard!

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Jarvis Williams