Something new, real, and potentially very important is happening among several groups of white evangelicals. A deep conviction and growing passion about racial reconciliation is taking root in the very unexpected soil of the white, conservative Christian world.
First, some honesty. White evangelicalism simply has been wrong on the issue of race for a very long time. Indeed, conservative white Christians have served as a bastion of racial segregation and a bulwark against racial justice efforts for decades, in the South and throughout the country.
All during the civil rights struggle, the vast majority of white evangelicals and their churches were on the wrong sidethe wrong side of the truth, the Bible, and the gospel. I will never forget the words spoken to me as a white evangelical teen-ager by an elder in my home church when I began to ask questions about our city of Detroit's painfully obvious racism and its divided churches. Without apology he said, "Christianity has nothing to do with racism."
Ever since, when evangelical Christians gathered to draw up their theological concerns, the sin of white racism was nowhere to be found. In recent years, when conservative white Christians began to construct their political agendas, a recognition of racism's reality was absent from the issues list of abortion, homosexuality, tax cuts for the middle class, and, yes, opposition to affirmative action.