Greg has a story about a Southern Baptist woman making a racist remark about Obama. Two other friends have shared similar experiences. One just about lost it waiting in a doctor's office while a very stupid woman used the "n" word repeatedly. Our other friend is experiencing a family divide over the election--a divide that cancelled Thanksgiving. Her family members have openly disparaged Obama's race, and one even expressed concern that his "grandmother was white." The same friend had to listen to someone make jokes about planting watermelon in the White House gardens while she waited to vote early.
Some of these may have the excuse of poor education and never being challenged to rise out of their culture. That doesn't excuse them, but it does add a context. Some of the others have no such excuse. Greg's example was a SBC church planter's wife. That reminds me of some historical scholarship on Southern evangelicals that suggests that in the early National period, Baptists and Methodists were quite radical about social justice. They opposed slavery, and even advocated much more equality for women--all drawn from their religious beliefs. To survive in the South, however, they had to give up those challenges to social status and focus on the sins of drinking and gambling. Racism, I fear, is still so embedded in that culture (and obviously not just the South, of course) that a good many church-going moral people have never even challenged those prejudices.
The good news in all of these examples is there was someone there to challenge the racism. And in several cases, the racist person had a child there who was embarrassed by the racism. We can only hope that means that there are some challenges to racism, and we are slowly gaining on it. But I fear that some of those kids who hate racism now, will be worn down by their own cultural assumptions by the time they are older. It would be nice if the conservative evangelical churches would make this their cause instead of going after gays. My sense is that they avoid racism as they have torture--perhaps falsely assuming that everyone knows right from wrong in these situations. Or perhaps they are following the model of people like Dobson. Either way, they leave us with a lot of otherwise moral people standing for immoral policy, or repeating immoral racist drivel.