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I did not sign the Open Letter. I did not sign it because it doesn’t reflect the world that I live in. I discussed the Open Letter with many Asian American Christians that I know. The vast majority of Asian American Christians that I talked to had no idea about the “repeated and offensive stereotyping” by “white evangelicalism.”
Nobody from my church signed the Open Letter. None of my pastors signed the letter. Most disagreed with the content of the letter. This is not to say that this stereotyping doesn’t occur. This is not to say that my own corner of the Asian American Christian world is representative. It is simply to say that the Open Letter did not represent me.
Growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, I regularly experienced racism. The incidents cited by the Open Letter pale in comparison to the racism I experienced growing up. In fact, the Christians at my school were the ones who embraced rather than ostracized me. A “white” Baptist church hosted the Chinese church I attended, sacrificing prime meeting times and spaces for our church. They ran the children and youth programs for both churches.
The Open Letter is powerful. It really has the potential to define Asian American and white Christian relations for the next five or even ten years. Yet the incidents cited by the letter do not define my relationship with white evangelicalism. While I’m sure that “there are likely hundreds of other examples that never reached a similar level of notoriety,” a hundred or even a thousand such incidents do not necessarily indicate a serious “divide that persists in the North American evangelical church.”
Again, I do not claim that Asian American Christians have not been “misunderstood, misrepresented, and misjudged.” I’m sure they have. Yet those are not the words that I would choose to characterize white evangelicalism’s treatment of Asian American Christians. And, ultimately, that’s the problem I have with the Open Letter. The letter claims that we are “Asian American Christians United,” but my experience indicates that the divide among Asian American Christians about racial harmony is greater than the divide with white evangelicals.
Asian American Christianity is so diverse. We are liberal and conservative, immigrants and native-born, old and young. We hail from all over Asia, the largest and most populous continent in the world. Is it possible for one letter to represent our entire collective experience with white evangelicalism?
The authors of the Open Letter are well-intentioned. They care about and have a vision for the Asian American Christian community. I appreciate them for that. But thousands of signatures do not necessarily mean that this letter truly represents the Asian American Christian experience.
I would encourage the Open Letter authors to hear the voices of those Asian American Christians who have been embraced by white evangelicalism. If they find that my experience is an anomaly, then I have no qualms with the letter.
|Daniel Lowe, Student, Fuller Theological Seminary|
Daniel is a photographer and a Fuller Theological Seminary student.
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