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Churches asked to address racism
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Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of stories on the Aug. 27 meeting on race, religion and politics sponsored by the Liberty NAACP and the Liberty County Minority Chamber.

The Rev. Dale Thornton of Hinesville First United Methodist Church and Pastor Debra Grant-Neal of St. Peter’s A.M.E. in Midway say segregation is as old as churches in the United States.

“I think part of the root of racism lies in the privilege of the white church through the centuries and the founding of America,” Thornton said, “and that the church would segregate people of privilege, namely whites, from people who were slaves, who were bought and sold as chattel.”
Grant-Neal said it’s become the “elephant in the room.”

“We still struggle with acknowledging one another as being one in Christ, covered by the blood in Jesus because our natural eyes immediately tell us that what you see is not acceptable to what you are feeling on the inside,” Grant-Neal said. “What’s happening now is, how do we deal with what never went away in the first place.”

Both Thornton and Neal-Grant were part of a panel at a forum hosted by the Liberty County NAACP and the Liberty County Minority Chamber on Aug. 27. Held at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Hinesville, the event drew a large crowd of area residents and local officials, who participated in a discussion after panelists spoke.

Among the panelists was the Rev. William Flippin Jr., of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Atlanta.
Flippin thinks churches can impact the politics of race, as well, by getting people involved.
“The best way to get people to vote is through the dinner table, it’s through grandma, it’s through those conversations,” Flippin said. “The church has to have those conversations naturally, not just in response to Charlottesville. We have to be the headlights of change, not just the tail lights of change.”

The Liberty NAACP planned the forum before the Aug. 13 “White Nationalists” rally in Charlottesville, Va., that led to the death of three people and injured more than 30.

Up next: What to do with statues?

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