Podcast / racial justice / Racial Reconciliation

The White Church and Complicity in Racism: A Conversation with Malcolm Foley


By Andy Hale

I’m not sure if the magnitude of this moment in America’s history has registered for many people. For many, they just don’t get it.

Far too many white Americans do not believe there is a racism issue in America. The evidence of this comes in subtle ways, such as the response to “Black Lives Matter” with “All Lives Matter,” the befuddlement to why people want to remove Confederate statues or the immediate dismissal that there is a systematic rip current of racism within the economy, judicial, employment, housing, healthcare or political systems.

A more difficult fact to process is the white church’s complicity in racism. Sure, some might confirm the dark history of the church’s endorsement of slavery in the South and the post-Civil War’s Jim Crow Laws. However, for far too many, that complicity seems like ancient history.

Sometimes, the best way to understand the present is to reexamine our past, even if that past is not a rose-colored as we want.

From 1883 to 1941, nearly 4,500 people were lynched in the American South. And yet, this is not a thing of the past when in the last two weeks in California, two young Black men were found dead in apparent hanging suicides, now reexamined as murders.

We sat down with Baylor University’s recently named Director of the Black Church Studies Program, Malcolm Foley, to discuss his doctoral studies on the Black Church’s response to lynching from the late 19th and early 20th century.

Malcolm is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in Baylor’s Department of Religion, earning a Master at Yale Divinity School with a focus on the theology of early and medieval church.


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This podcast episode is brought to you by Fuller Seminary, The Center for Congregational Health, and Baptist Seminary of Kentucky.

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Andy Hale created and hosts the podcast of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Hale is the senior pastor of University Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, following eight years as the founding pastor of Mosaic Church of Clayton and five years as CBF’s church start specialist. Follow on Twitter @haleandy

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