losing my religion

Why Christian?

I mean, really. What’s the point anymore?

I know some people are asking themselves that question. Especially in an age where fundamentalism seems to be the dominant public face of the religion.

That question is also the title of a conference headed by Rachel Held Evans and Nadia Bolz-Weber: Why Christian?

I found out about their gathering yesterday. It’s definitely piqued my interest.

When I saw the page featuring their speakers, I smiled.

If I may be frank with you, I’ve never seen so many women of colour on a conferenced helmed by two Caucasians. From what I’ve seen, such diversity is normally included when a conference’s founders are people of colour.

Although I still know very little about Why Christian?, there was something else about it that struck me as unique. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first…And then, Rachel dropped this tweet:

Confession: I don’t think I’ve ever been to a Christian conference (hereafter called a “CC”). Yet I’ve seen plenty of their websites.

Why is it that many CCs that have predominantly (white) male speakers are marketed to everyone within their demographic? (By “everyone” and “demographic”, I’ve seen pages for conferences for church musicians, youth leaders, you name it–yet there’s no discrimination among the gender of those who are expected to attend.) Meanwhile, when a CC lineup features a predominantly black or female group of speakers, then that’s exactly who I see in footage of its audience. (The only exception are a handful of Caucasians or men that I’ve observed.)

I used to assume that these unique attendees were family or close friends of those who are a part of said conferences’ mainstream. However I realize that in making such a conclusion, I’ve ruled out another option. What of the man or woman who has looked at a conference’s web page and said, “I am a Christian. I believe that the people who are going to to speak will be saying something that is relevant to my walk with God….”?

Hence, they decide to attend regardless of the risk of being perceived as an outlier.

Our perceptions of who belongs where need to change. Especially in religious circles. Or for the sake of this piece, Christian ones. Just because a speaker doesn’t appear to match perpetuated norms, don’t assume that you won’t learn from them.

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