Happy Holidays! Let's talk about race and religion


It’s the holiday season and, like many of you, we’re taking stock.  

Taking stock of what we accomplished with this We Live Here project; the stories and topics we’ve covered; and where we hope to go in the future.   

This time of year also has us thinking about faith and the meaning of our work. There’s a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. that we keep coming back to: “It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is 11 o'clock on Sunday morning."

That sense of separation can be felt across many faiths. So, we sat down with faith leaders from around St. Louis and asked: Do you feel an obligation to address race with your congregations? And if so, how do you do that?

Snippets of what we heard:

“There’s a reference in the Quran that Almighty God made us into nations and tribes, that we might learn to know more about each other. There’s knowledge in all of these cultures and experiences, so learning more about each other helps to expand all of our horizons.” — Askia Hameed, resident imam at Al-Muminoon Masjid in St. Louis

“I just don’t think that our faith is about reading old texts. But, it has to be about what we’re living today … I [used to] get up on the pulpit and I would say that these are the issue of our time. And some people really loved that I gave voice to it, and some people really didn’t.” — Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council.

“Some congregations just don’t want to deal with it at all. I’ve served in white churches and black churches. The thing that people want to avoid at all costs is a conversation about race.” — Terrell Carter, pastor of Webster Groves Baptist Church

What we want to know from you:

Is race off-limits in your church? What’s the best sermon you’ve heard related to race or racism or tolerance? Does your pastor talk about it?  

Let us know in the comments, or find us on Twitter: @welivehereSTL

Faith by the numbers

As we were reporting on this topic, we came across a few interesting polls and studies about race and religion. Here are a couple of them.

From the Barna Group: One-third of Americans say “Christian churches are part of the problem when it comes to racism" At the same time, three in four people say Christian churches play a vital role in racial reconciliation.    

And there's this handy chart from the Pew Research Center that shows the racial diversity — or lack thereof — in America’s religions.

Don’t affiliate with any religion? There’s information in there for you too.

Most diverse

  1. Seventh Day Adventist
  2. Muslim
  3. Jehovah’s Witness

Least diverse

  1. Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod
  2. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  3. National Baptist Convention