'Yes, the church has been complicit in racism'

Has the church been complicit in the history of racism in the world?

Senior ethics fellow in the Centre for Ethics Education at the Jesuit’s Fordham University in New York, Professor Bryan Massingale speaks to Eusebius McKaiser about whether Christianity has been complicit in racism.

Read: 'Spirituality goes beyond religion' - Christianity and ancestralism debated

Massingale will deliver a public lecture at St Augustine College on Tuesday evening titled Malcolm X, Steve Biko and the Religious Dream for a Multiracial Democracy.

Massingale says the short answer, is that yes, the church has been complicit in racism.

We need to unpack as to how the church has been complicit, it has happened both actively and passively. It happens actively through its legacy of exclusion of African Americans and other people of colour from positions of leadership for example.

Professor Bryan Massingale, Senior ethics fellow in Centre for ethics education - Jesuit’s Fordham University

It has also done it passively in terms of what rituals are allowed at worship and also passively through its silence in not confronting the issue of racism.

Professor Bryan Massingale, Senior ethics fellow in Centre for ethics education - Jesuit’s Fordham University

The research we have done in the US shows that less than 20% of Americans have ever heard of a homily that mentions racism as a sin in the past three years. It precisely these issues that the church's credibility rests upon.

Professor Bryan Massingale, Senior ethics fellow in Centre for ethics education - Jesuit’s Fordham University

Especially with the younger generation, with the students that I teach at Fordham University, for example, many of them know that the church isn't in the forefront for justice, but when they see the depth of its avoidance of the issue and when they read about the history of active complicity and support, that really throws them and causes them to want to know if this is even worthwhile.

Professor Bryan Massingale, Senior ethics fellow in Centre for ethics education - Jesuit’s Fordham University

He adds that he believes that the church's mission for justice in society in terms of racism and homophobia are the issues that are going to be the litmus test for the church's credibility.

Click below to listen to the full interview:


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