Brandon pointed me to this piece on how Zach Kinkaid from the excellent Matthew’s House Project was fired from Oklahoma Baptist University because of an editorial he wrote. As the editorial loaded up, I was expecting it to be a response to some controversial theological issue, but discovered instead that he lost his job for criticising a wealthy church’s decision to flee the inner city in favour of a more comfortable suburban setting.
Such ‘white flight’ seems to have been a fixture of the USian church experience for some time. In a culture where the success of a church is measured on numbers it makes sense to make it a comfortable place, and to find cheap land for huge (and generally ugly) expansions. But it’s ironic that a demographic that was so much in favour of Bush’s “faith based initiatives” is fleeing the very areas that need such initiatives. If there’s one argument I’d use against routing urban redevelopment funding through churches, it would be that churches by and large couldn’t care less about the urban poor.
Our most recent conversations about this topic haven’t arisen so much from the movement of churches, but from the begging letters we’ve received from Kari’s old high school, which is moving south of its present outer-Chicago setting because their “constituency” has done likewise. Put another way, all the white CRC people who provide the majority of the school’s funding have fled areas which are increasingly multi-racial, and the school is following them out. “Christian education” was founded for the good of society, but it too has increasingly become about the comfort of its wealthy base.
In such a setting, it doesn’t seem extreme to reiterate that large parts of the church are still insidiously, institutionally racist. The very best faith-based initiative right now would be to demonstrate a personal commitment to the communities that need help. Instead, people are losing their jobs for speaking the truth.