Racial and cultural differences in heaven will be present, according to the Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, who shared his views on the afterlife in an interview published on Monday.
"What Revelation says, particularly in chapter 7, ... says, 'From every tribe, nation, and tongue.' I don't think eternity does away with difference. I think we're going to see people's race, culture, in eternity," Salguero shared in an interview with NPR.com.
"What I think [what] it does is it reconciles it. Where it says, 'I'm Hispanic, I'm Latino.' And I'm going to see African-Americans, and I'm going to see whites, and I'm going to see Asians in heaven. And I think that phenotype will be there. I would be saddened if difference was obliterated in eternity. I think they're just going to be reconciled and we're going to learn, finally, to live together. ..."
The pastor added that there will be people in heaven from across the geographic spectrum, which will include those of different races and cultures.
Other interpretations of Revelation and of heaven in the Bible, such as one found in the Q & A section of Never Thirsty, a part of Like the Master Ministries in Tucson, Ariz., disagree that race and color will be present in the afterlife.
"There will be people from every race and culture in heaven," Never Thirsty offered. "But will they be practicing their culture and will they have their original skin color? The answer is most likely no. God created one couple originally and it was not until the Tower of Babel that God confused the peoples of the world spreading them across the globe. At that time He confused their language and scrambled skin colors. This suggests that God's original design was a people of one skin color, language and culture."
Others, such as Richard L. Deem of GodAndScience.org, have also suggested that racial differences will not be present in heaven.
"There will be no marriage or sexual differences among those in heaven, since reproduction is unnecessary. This concept is supported by other biblical verses that indicate that males and females are spiritually equal," Deem wrote in an article addressing what heaven will be like. "The same concept applies to the races. I doubt that there will be racial differences in heaven."
Salguero, who is also the pastor of The Lamb's Church in New York, elaborated on his thoughts of the afterlife in the NPR interview, where he revealed that he believes heaven will be a place "with no sickness, no disease, no hate, no crime, no evil," where people will learn to live together despite cultural backgrounds and other differences.
As part of the Evangelical Immigration Table (EIT), Salguero has especially been vocal in the push for comprehensive immigration reform in the past year, leading worship and prayers meetings, urging Congress members to work together on the issue affecting millions of people in America.