"We Do Not Discriminate" (cartoon by nakedpastor David Hayward)
I Googled "signs of discrimination"
. A lot of entries dealt with discrimination in housing. At first I thought it was not applicable. But after I thought about it I realized that it is totally analogous to discrimination in the church. Instead of a person having difficulty getting housing, these same signs can apply to a person seeking full participation in a church community.
Based on signs of discrimination in the housing market in this post
, here are the¬†signs of possible discrimination in your church because of your race, social status, gender, sexual orientation, beliefs, or other targets of prejudice:
"A refusal to sell, rent or show available housing": Even though the church might advertise that it is inclusive and doesn't discriminate, you still are not allowed to participate fully.
"Offering different terms to different people": There are different qualifications, prerequisites, standards or conditions for you to participate than are required of other people.
"A statement that the dwelling is not right for your family": Even though you should be able¬†to participate, you're informed that it isn't right for you and you should wait for a more appropriate opportunity. The church may¬†resort to documents (scriptures) they say¬†bind its hands to change its policies.
"The dwelling has an 'Available' sign, but you are told it is not available": You are publicly invited to participate but privately informed that it has been filled or the time is not right, etcetera.
"Steering to certain communities or neighborhoods based on race, ethnic composition, or familial status": It is explicitly suggested or implied that perhaps you would feel more comfortable elsewhere.
"Terms or availability change between a phone contact and an in-person visit": You are the victim of double speak. You always almost feel like you will be fully admitted and enjoy full participation but it never really materializes.
"You are not contacted after acceptance of your application": You know you deserve to fully participate but you never get the right hand of fellowship or the green light to get involved.
"An unreasonable refusal to provide a mortgage loan or home owners insurance": The excuses you are told don't make any sense while you watch others progress and enjoy¬†preferential treatment.
"You are harassed or intimidated": You experience outright hostility and are made to feel inferior, that¬†you are a nuisance, or that you don't understand the difficulties involved.
"You are offered service or treatment that seems inappropriate": The kind of involvement you are offered is¬†placating, demeaning and doesn't really meet¬†your desire for full participation.
What do you do if you are experiencing one, some or all of these signs? I would inform
the leadership and demand
change. If they don't listen, if at all possible¬†leave
a church that doesn't discriminate.
Come and join The Lasting Supper, our online community. This would be a good place to start!