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Podcast with Sherman Bradley: What price are we paying for segregated churches?

As pastor at New Life Covenant church in Wyoming, Sherman Bradley works “to address the racial, ethnic, gender and class divides in our nation and world”.  As an African American pastor, his believes that his first job is to heal the divide between whites and blacks on Sunday mornings.  Sherman believes that through religious self-segregation, we’ve lost the moral common ground that could bring us together to effectively address the deeper causes of community suffering.

Simply, when we work together on social issues outside of church (like the Child Poverty Collaborative), we don’t have the clear, collective moral framework within which we can successfully address deep social issues.  When we work together on social issues within a segregated church (which means nearly 90% of American churches), we lose the diversity of perspectives–and the resulting collective empathy–necessary for social change.  So only by addressing social issues within the moral framework of a truly inclusive church can we maximize our ability to affect social change.  If we can leverage our agreement around Christ to engage diverse people in social change, we might be able to put some morality into capitalism and save American society.

Sherman carries on a tradition of religious diversity began by his uncle, a local pastor until his life was cut short at 53.  He experienced racial division in his own family: his father had to sue the Ohio Department of Transportation twice for discrimination in passing him over for promotions; then from his white racist step-sister.

After living in Europe helped him see beyond the black-white American racial polarity.  Then a relationship with Damon Lynch III showed him that “the unity of believers is how God will evaluate” our efforts here on Earth (John 17)—a notion proven by Sherman’s work with the highly diverse Black United Front, which caused change in Cincinnati Police Department policies.  Because he saw that “the culture is leading the church” on the diversity issue, he knew that building a diverse church must be part of his ministry.

Listen to Sherman discuss the issue of diversity in religion, and ask yourself:

  • What is lost—in terms of practical social change—because churches are not integrated?
  • What are the barriers to integrating churches—and what do we need to do to overcome them?
  • What would be possible, when it comes to social change, if most churches were truly inclusive and addressed social issues in church?

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