Reportedly, more churches are now supportive of reparations and some have taken it upon themselves to start new initiatives to help African American communities and other minority groups. Interestingly, these churches include both historically white churches and black churches.
“We will never get to full reconciliation in America, until we address this issue of why are millions and millions of persons still entrapped in poverty in predominately black and brown communities. It’s not an accident. It wasn’t their fault. It’s not from lack of initiative. It’s that the system put it that way,” Rev. Eugene Sutton, who serves as the Episcopal Bishop of Maryland and is also an African American, said.
Some of the churches and church groups that have been supportive of the idea include the Episcopal Church, United Methodist Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.
One of the most prominent groups participating is the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC), which has launched a program called Truth and Reparations.
In an official document on the project, the MCC explains, “The genocide of and stealing of land from the Indigenous population combined with the arrival of enslaved Africans as uncompensated labor made racism and White supremacy core to the way of life in what would become the United States of America. The complicity of Christian faith communities further stamped on the nation the imprint of a sinful dehumanization. The State of Minnesota was born out of this blueprint.”
Historically speaking, racism was prevalent in the United States, both towards Native Americans and black slaves, but the reality is infinitely more complex than this broad statement suggests.
The MCC then gives a three-point action plan, which includes what it identifies as a “truth telling process” and education within the churches. It would also include some type of payments to both black and indigenous communities, by providing “land and economic reparations” so those communities would have an “an improved position.” As a result, these communities would experience “sharp and enduring reductions in racial disparities, particularly economic disparities like racial wealth inequality, and corresponding sharp and enduring improvements in (black and Native American) well-being.”
The idea of reparations has been suggested as a cure for the country’s ills, but where does it end and what if it doesn’t produce the result racial activists want.
While there is no doubt that these churches will put funding and effort into some worthwhile causes, the seemingly best indicator for addressing poverty is jobs, and minority communities are doing better than ever before.
According to the U.S. Census, poverty rates for African Americans and Hispanics last year reached historic lows of 18.8% and 15.7%, respectively, as unemployment reached record lows in both groups. The percentage of minority children living in poverty is also in a “downward trajectory, reaching record lows across racial and ethnic groups.” Those are still far above the Asian and white rate of 7.3%, but things are improving and it’s not because of financial reparations.
Racism is an issue of the heart and sin, not money. And while racism still exists in this country, reparations are not the solution and will likely only result in more problems. Instead, churches and groups seeking what they call racial justice should focus on programs that can support young families through childcare, meal service, financial advising, job training and other areas that will give those in poverty the ability to pull themselves up rather than just providing a handout.
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