RACISM IN THE CHURCH – TEAM SOTERIA MINISTRIES

Fred Price Triggers Debate Over Racism

Los Angeles pastor focuses his national television
program on racial tension in the church

Frederick K.C. Price, pastor of the 16,000-member Crenshaw Christian
Center in Los Angeles, believes racism is alive and well in charismatic
churches in the 1990s. That’s why he began televising a lengthy series of
sermons on “Race, Religion, and Racism” on his Ever Increasing Faith
the program, which is aired on Trinity Broadcasting Network affiliates and
other stations.

To illustrate that racism permeates churches today, Price has played
portions of an audiotaped sermon by a prominent Christian leader–whom
Price does not name. On the tape, the unnamed pastor says it’s OK for
Christian parents to teach their children that they shouldn’t date people of
other races.

Price says this position is not biblical–and he’s calling Christians to
reexamine the issue.

“I’m not angry at any individual, and I’m not angry at any group of people,”
Price announced on the air. “I’m really angry that the church hasn’t done
anything about this situation [of racism].”

Price contends that American churches remain segregated because whites
have believed since the days of slavery that they are the superior race. For
whites to believe that teaching against interracial marriage is acceptable is
a continuation of the “superiority” premise, Price believes.

“Now I know that doesn’t include everyone,” Price told his huge TV
audience recently. “But it includes too many of you. And too many of you
don’t say anything–which makes you accessories after the fact.”

In his sermon series, Price says God created only one race–“or one
blood”–as mentioned in Acts 17:26–and that skin color is determined
simply by the level of melanin.

“You can give (blood) transfusions to any racial group from any other
racial group with comparable blood type because there is only one human
race,” Price said. “There is no other race, so all the blood can intermix.”
Price also cites Romans 2:10-11 as proof that Christians cannot show
partiality toward one another.

Price says he is not promoting or encouraging interracial marriage, but he
is defending anyone’s right to marry someone of a different color. “God
doesn’t have a problem with it. Why do you?” he asked.

The series of sermons–and Price’s bold treatment of the subject–have
caused Christians in recent months to grapple with the subject of interracial
marriage.

Even though Price does not name the pastor heard on the tape, many
viewers have recognized the voice as that of Kenneth Hagin Jr., pastor of
the 5,000-member Rhema Bible Church in Tulsa, Okla. But neither Price
nor Hagin would grant for-the-record interviews to Charisma. Hagin holds
to an official policy of not responding publicly to the criticism.

On the audiotape–which was recorded more than five years ago–Hagin
describes a situation in which he found one of his children playing with a
black child.

“We just talked to [our child] and said, ‘Hey, look, we’re friends. We play.
We go together as a group. But we do not date one another.” In another
segment of the tape, he said: “I don’t think we ought to mix any of the
races. That’s my personal opinion, OK?”

On the audiotape, Hagin said he addressed the issue of interracial marriage
because parents at Rhema Bible Church were upset that their children
were dating interracially. Both black and white parents had come to him
for advice, he said.

A group of black ministers who were offended by Hagin’s remarks took
the tapes to Price in 1992. Because of Price’s long-standing partnership
with Kenneth Hagin Ministries, the ministers asked Price to confront
Hagin.

Price has been a staunch financial supporter of Rhema Bible College since
he founded Crenshaw Christian Center in 1973. The church sits on the
former 32-acre campus of Pepperdine University, where Price built the
10,000-seat Faith Dome. The former campus is also home to his television
ministry.

Price says he wrote a seven-page letter to Kenneth Hagin Sr. about his
son’s statements but did not get a satisfactory response. A further letter
seeking a retraction also failed to achieve results, so Price stands firm on
his decision to sever his relationship with the Hagins.

“I confronted this brother with it,” Price announced on television. “I was
forced to withdraw fellowship. I hated it! But principle means more to me
than friendship.”

Even though Hagin Jr. has made no official statement about this
controversy, he has answered Rhema supporters who inquired about it.

In one letter, he said he has tried to apologize to Price and has apologized
publicly and to his church. Hagin also points out that Rhema Church’s
policy is to marry mature couples after counseling, no matter what their
race. And he notes that key members of his pastoral staff are black.

“If people would just take a look at the fruit of this ministry and would talk
to people who know me…they would understand that I am definitely not a
racist, nor am I a bigot in any way,” Hagin said in the letter. “If I could take
the words back, I would…but I can’t. I can only apologize for having said
them and pray that the hurt and confusion will be healed.”

But Price says Hagin’s apologies fall short because he refuses to recant his
the view that it is acceptable for Christian parents to discourage interracially
marriage.

One of those who has gotten involved in the controversy is Carlton
Pearson, pastor of Higher Dimensions Ministries in Tulsa, Okla. Pearson,
an African American, is a close friend of Hagin’s.

“As an African American, I understand the hurt, disillusionment, and anger
Dr. Price is apparently experiencing in regard to the ugly and tenacious
persistence of racism within the church,” Pearson said. “It is my strong
feeling that Christians must learn to be confronted without being
combative,” Pearson said he believes disagreements between Christian
leaders should be handled privately.

But Price insists that his seeming combativeness on the issue of racism is
really righteous anger. “[Racism and slavery] never could have existed
without the consent of the church,” Price says. “That’s what makes me
angry.”

–Billy Bruce

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2 Comments »

  1. I have never heard bias taught or encouraged in any church I have attended. Wherever it does exist, that is unacceptable. Christians are instructed, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3: 28). The only blood that matter is Christ’s.

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