More Wokeness: Is Barna calling for segregated churches?

White supremacists and woke whites have few dissimilarities. The key difference between the two ideologies is that White supremacists believe that whiteness is good, and woke Whites believe whiteness is evil. However, they come to the same conclusions when it comes to the morality of hiring based on race, judging people by the color of their skin, and even segregation.

In breaking the story behind Barna’s wokeness, Evangelical Dark Web provided evidence Barna was partnering with Critical Race Theorist, Christopher Harris, to assist woke pastors and their careers. Days later Barna released an article titled “Do Multiracial Churches Offer Healthy Community for Non-White Attendees?” providing further evidence of their apostate trajectory.

Bluntly put, Big Eva has been inundating White churches with messaging that they need more Black people. They have been pushing the multiethnic church model, for years, pursuing the lofty and unattainable goal of making the local church look like the universal church. Barna’s article seems to contrast this movement.

Barna partnered with Dr. Michael O. Emerson and the Racial Justice and Unity Center, through research funded by the Lilly Endowment, to explore what U.S. adults (including practicing Christians) believe about racism and racial justice issues. This article looks at recent data from the new Beyond Diversity project, exploring why some of the Church’s efforts toward unity in recent decades seem to be insufficient in helping to understand or rectify the challenges experienced by worshippers of color, especially Black individuals, for whom issues of race in the U.S. are front and center.

To break down some names, Dr. Michael Emerson is a sociologist that claims that individualism and rationality are white values. The RJUC is as woke as it sounds, and has Emerson in a significant leadership position. The RJUC has been instrumental in proliferating diversity programs in faith-based colleges and universities, parachurch organizations, and even woke denominations like the ECC. Beyond Diversity is Barna’s new initiative because diversity is not the endgame of racial justice. But neither Beyond Diversity nor the RJUC define racial justice or its endgame.

Barna then releases a series of results to four questions. The problem with this data becomes rather apparent on its surface. Barna has a sample size of 258 black people for these stratified results. Black practicing Christian is loosely defined as a Black person who believes religion is important and has attended church within the last month. In other words, they did not screen this data for beliefs, only self-identification. According to Survey Monkey such a small sample size would yield a 6% margin of error. Furthermore, the survey uses a five-point rating system for answers, which would mean the margin on each data point has a 6% margin of error. The (2019) data is meant to compare the experiences of Black churchgoers who go to a Black church with Black churchgoers who go to a multiethnic church. The sheer clickbait of using “nonwhites” in the headline but providing no data on Hispanics, who are America’s second largest racial minority is telling.

The first two insights provided are about perceived racial prejudice and “assimilation.” Barna claims that 29% of Black Christians have experienced racial prejudice in a multiethnic church. The five-point scale proves faulty as this broken down is 16% strongly agreeing and 13% agreeing, despite the fact that the statement is a simple yes or no binary.

More than one-quarter of Black practicing Christians feels pressured to give up part of their racial or ethnic identity in a multiracial church (27%) and finds it difficult to build relationships here (28%). Finally, one-third of Black practicing Christians (33%) feels it is hard to move into a leadership position at a multiracial church.

The racial or ethnic identity is a moral neutral issue, especially when Christianity calls us to deny ourselves. Barna presupposes this is a negative. The difficulty in building relationships especially when compared to Black churches could be explained by racial prejudice among Blacks. However, this data, as Barna notes, did not control for important variables.

There could be other factors not accounted for here—church size, beliefs about gender roles or organizational structure—that obstruct a path to leadership, whether in multi- or monoracial churches. In looking across all the questions in this series, however, it is clear that Black Christians face barriers to acceptance or personal growth even when they are in a racially diverse environment.

So there are a lot of missing variables here, including location which is unmentioned.

But this difference among Black and other non-white groups is also helpful in assessing multiracial churches: If they don’t work well for Black individuals, for whom injustices in the U.S. have been deeply felt and particularly injurious, how well do they really work?

Barna is trying to paint a narrative that multiethnic churches are not safe for Blacks, even though it’s a supermajority who according to their flawed questions do feel perfectly safe. Barna closes with their own editorial.

As a result, the existing norms, traditions, preferences and structures of the church have not significantly changed—except people of color are invited to join. This invitation often comes with an expectation, explicit or implicit, that people of color also assimilate, or fit in, by embracing songs, styles, messages, structures and communities which may be very different from those in their own racial and ethnic culture or previous church tradition.

Our data and focus group interviews affirm the experiences of many people of color who “code switch” to fit in with multiracial faith communities—that is, they feel pressure to dress, speak and otherwise present in a certain way that belies their identity in order to be accepted or taken seriously in a white normative church. Interviewees’ accounts show that such compartmentalization of behavior on an ongoing basis can be demoralizing or exhausting for individuals in the racial minority; in trying to fit in this way, they cannot authentically belong.

Furthermore, our focus group participants attest, Christians of color often face barriers to sharing their opinions, whether as a congregant or leader. Even if a multiracial organization brings in leaders of color, these individuals are not usually given real authority or ability to make change.

The problem with using focus groups to talk about race is groupthink. Anecdotes are not reliable evidence. In the Bible we generally need two or three witnesses to prove an accusation, but Barna assumes racism just as any Critical Race Theorist would.

The story Barna is trying to tell is that Black people are not safe around White people. This narrative is fueled by flawed methodology and biased individuals and organizations funding it. There are two solutions to the problem Barna asserts. First, that Blacks need separate churches from Whites. The movement of creating Black spaces is a rising phenomenon on college campuses and the Black Lives Matter movement. Second, multiethnic churches need to become more woke. Barna is already partnering with Diverse Church Jobs, as previously reported to accomplish this solution. So in a sense, Barna is promoting racial segregation of churches, at least until they can capitalize off of discriminatory hiring practices.

Diversity is a huge grift. Big Eva is a huge industry. Barna has been capitalizing off of the latter for their existence, but now they want to pander to enemies within the church because there is money to be made in White guilt.

A call to action

Evangelical Dark Web is an online ministry that fights to maintain the orthodoxy’s and orthopraxy of Evangelical Christianity. We are specifically set up to fight three false gospels in particular: the Social Justice GospelProsperity Gospel, and Popularity Gospel. We also do in depth research to answer reader questions about false teachers. Consider subscribing to support these efforts.

2 comments

  1. Wow a statistics 101 student would have all types of issues with their survey. Almost everyone feels a need to change a bit of themselves to fit in somewhere, anywhere! Work, the gym, football games, etc…. How would a charismatic evangelical feel attending a Catholic Mass? And I agree, the fact that a large majority don’t have those issues, while those that do may not be thinking its because of color, is a positive outcome! Give that survey to blacks that attend other group events outside of their normal 6 day a week circle and I’m willing to bet the outcome would be worse.

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