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Church Declares That It Is 'Fasting From Whiteness' This Lent

Church Declares That It Is 'Fasting From Whiteness' This Lent

A church has found itself in the midst of a social media storm after revealing its plans for Lent involved 'fasting from whiteness'

A church has found itself in the midst of a social media storm after revealing its plans for Lent involved 'fasting from whiteness'.

The First United Church in Oak Park, Chicago, announced in a blog post that in keeping with the Lent tradition of choosing something to do without for the month, the church would be doing 'a mix of 'giving something up' and 'taking something on'.'

But rather than cutting out crisps or chocolate, the church came up with an innovative way of combining religious observance with social activism, by pledging to replace its typical hymns and service with non-white traditions.

First United Church's blog post.
First United Church

"In our worship services throughout Lent, we will not be using any music or liturgy written or composed by white people. Our music will be drawn from the African American spirituals tradition, from South African freedom songs, from Native American traditions, and many, many more," the church revealed.

"For Lent, it is our prayer that in our spiritual disciplines we may grow as Christians, united in the body of Christ with people of all ages, nations, races, and origins."

In a video explaining the plans, the church's Reverend Lydia Murkey said: "In this fast from whiteness, of course, I cannot change the color of my skin or the way that allows me to move through the world but I can change what I listen to, whose voice I prioritize. And so that is kind of the place for our worship services, through Lent, that we would fast for a time from prioritizing white voices."

Despite the good intentions of the church to put a spotlight on non-white Christian voices and even to introduce non-Christian religious traditions to its congregation, unfortunately the plans have sparked a predictable backlash from certain sections of the internet.

The First United Church's blog post was highlighted by Turning Point USA – a conservative nonprofit that pledges to combat 'discrimination against conservatives' and 'leftist propaganda'.

Various right wing commentators and websites have since condemned the decision, however many others have offered their support for the proposals, including Reverend Craig Howard, the executive presbyter of the United Church’s Chicago district, who said that while he had not been aware of the plans, he supported the idea behind them.

"It sounds to me that they’re kind of flipping it, saying instead of making the majority voice the loudest voice, we’re going to listen to the minor players [who have not] been heard in the past, and make them the primary players again," he said.

“They did not say, we’re going to ignore the white voice. We’re just going to now just tone it down and see what voice has come to the top and see what message we may get from those voices."

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Featured Image Credit: Turning Point USA/First United Church Oak Park

Topics: US News