"Why does the anomaly of segregated churches persist?"

A pastor and professor of religion takes a bold stance regarding the continued separation of black and white Christian worship practices. Examining America's racial history, Byrd points out that both free whites and free blacks founded the nation's earliest colony, Jamestown. But as the institution of slavery spread, blacks gradually established their own places of Christian worship. Currently, many evangelical faiths attract and welcome both black and white congregants. But even there, racial divides exist based on whether the pastor is black or white. American blacks still experience inequality in housing, salaries, and other aspects of life. Despite the strides of the civil rights era, many Christians dismiss the significance of the racial divide in religion, assigning it to cultural differences. Based on his diligent and scholarly investigation of these issues, and believing that separation is contrary to scripture, Byrd strongly recommends the development of "Covenant Community Coalitions," a mixed-race grouping, to involve black and white churches in town hall meetings, educational initiatives, and the exploration of a "theology of integration."

The author is an experienced pastor and college professor who assigned white students to attend religious services in black churches and vice versa and recorded their reactions. Such observations underpin his book's central themes: there are many likenesses in the two styles of worship, and believers should not let culture or tradition blind them to the oneness of God's word. Byrd reminds readers of the iconic example of Martin Luther King, who inspired people of all races and creeds to unite in the struggle against racial equality based on his strong religious grounding. Byrd offers points for discussion of the many important issues he raises, urging all Christians to reunify as "worshipping communities." His well-researched, open-minded views should be studied and discussed among all serious American Christians.

Return to USR Home