Despite religion being a tool which brings people together, Sunday mornings remain one of the most segregated periods of time in the United States.
Rev. Kinzer Pointer of Liberty Missionary Baptist Church says it's part of what creates unneeded tension among different communities.
“I will tell you it is a problem,” he said. “We are segregated on Sunday morning out of habit, more so than anything else. We have lived together in the American experience, and in this American experience, in the deep south, where my family came from, the church was the one place where a Black man could have his dignity intact.”
While Rev. Matthew Lincoln, the rector Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Buffalo shares Pointer’s ideals about segregated places of worship, --he believes everyone has a right to worship where and with whom they would like.
“The difficulty that different Christians have in worshipping together exposes a way in which we fall far short of our calling to be one in Christ,” he said. “But I also trust in the mystical unity in Christ that goes beyond uniformity, and I believe that around the world, that there are so many different ways, of being Christian because of so many different cultural contexts, that I think we ought to give each other and ourselves a little slack.”
Pointer and Lincoln shared their thoughts on their upbringing, the challenges they have faced, and what white privilege means to them as part of WBFO's series WNY Conversations About Race.
The 5-part radio series includes Black and white activists, clergymen, educators and business people talking about racism, empathy and diversity in Western New York on-air this week, with extended versions of those edited conversations available online each day or as a bonus afternoon edition of the WBFO Brief podcast.
When it comes to white privilege, Lincoln said it can even be found when trying to diversify the pews.
“One of the things I really am ashamed about as white Christian,” he said. “Is that I have been in many conversations with other members of my church, of the churches where I’ve served, who have said ‘oh we really need to something to integrate this congregation. We really need to be more welcoming to black folks and other people of color and different backgrounds’ and as we talk, it becomes clear that they think it would be great if other people would come worship with us the way we worship. And that is one example of white privilege in its glory.”
Pointer said there was an old saying, expressed facetiously, he learned from his elders in Georgia.
“If you’re white, you’re right,” he said. “The expression was facetious because, in a lot of instances, the persons being ridiculed were anything but right. But because they were white, there were not usually consequences to whatever actions they were taking that shouldn’t be taken against another human being.”