U.K. Churches Told to Speak Out Against Racism

Churches have been told they may have to speak out against racism if the recession triggers a wave of racist-based policies and even new race riots across Europe as governments attempt to steer their economies through the economic downturn.

With one in five churchgoers in the United Kingdom belonging to an ethnic minority, the Jubilee Center is encouraging the church to challenge policies and philosophies that do not serve to safeguard unity, equality and diversity.

"It is important that Christians are willing to denounce racism and to encourage their leaders to work against racism," writes London School of Economics lecturer Dr. Sujit Sivasundaram in the latest edition of the Jubilee Center's "Cambridge Papers."

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"In Europe, if unemployment becomes an issue with the economic crisis, and race riots appear again, Christians will have a role to play, in petitioning the state."

In his article, Sivasundaram asserts that the affirmation of ethnic diversity can give individuals and local communities a sense of cohesion and belonging, and calls on Christians and local churches to denounce racism and encourage their leaders to work against racism.

Churches, he says, should set an example of unity and respect for ethnic diversity.

"The church must be very careful not to become politically biased and end up supporting the policies of repressive regimes or supremacist rhetoric. It should stand up for the victimized."

He added, however, that faith groups needed to maintain their distinctiveness.

"We need to beware of the danger of becoming religiously pluralist: the need for unity and diversity does not equate with the idea that all religions are the same," he said. "Christians need to defend the Gospel and stand up for the victimized."

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