Friday, July 06, 2007
Is it morally right for school districts to use ethnicity (we’re all one race cf. Acts 17) to assign students to schools in order to increase diversity? According to the latest Supreme Court ruling it is no longer legal regardless of whether or not it‘s morally right. Once announced the decision was either hailed or decried by those on the left and right. The comments by both demonstrate once more that America is a divided nation with both sides entrenched, distrustful and disdainful of the other. In light of that I do hope that believers can refrain from casting those who disagree with them as either politically correct imbeciles or knee-jerk conservative bigots.
Since we’re debating the merits (sorry for the pun) of affirmative action I’d like to get behind the issue and pose some questions in light of this decision. The school districts in question were barred from using ethnicity to in order to achieve a desired goal of diversity. The issue at hand seemed to be achieving a certain measure of ethnic diversity. The question I’d like to ask is this: Is it necessary for our society to have a certain amount of diversity? Most of us would probably agree that it’s desirable, but would our society suffer if the vast majority of our children were educated in ethnically homogenous environments? If it is necessary to have some diversity how could a school district, college or company achieve it without getting sued? If a lack of diversity does in the long run harm our society does that harm outweigh any attempts to rectify it?
Have our churches been less effective in our witness because most of them are largely consists of believers from one ethnicity? Think of some of the leading evangelical reformed churches in our country? If we believe that they’re effectiveness hasn’t been unduly hindered because they’re largely homogenous can we convince the society that the pursuit of diversity is necessary and not just desirable? It’s one thing to conclude that the government should not and cannot force diversity, but it’s a whole other issue to believe that people will simply make nice especially when issues of education and opportunity are at stake.
Another set of questions to consider. Should African-Americans be more concerned about quality education then diversity? Is the drive for diversity about resources for a good education or do we really believe that having our children in the same classrooms with white children is valuable in and of itself? Granted there are some wealthy school districts that outspend inner-city (code for mainly poor and black) districts by a two to one ration. But what if we could deliver a high quality education to our children that would prepare them for gainful careers in this high tech 21st century world despite spending disparities? Would we still have as much interest in diversity? One more point concerning this. With night falling on affirmative action is this the time to put our energy and effort into quality education instead of diversity no matter how desirable it is?
Finally, (at least for this post) how should the church react? Is it enough for us just to applaud the ruling while hoping the next one will be the final death knell for affirmative action? Are we prepared to show the society that diversity is desirable not because it’s politically correct but because God intentionally chose people from every ethnicity to make up His church? Will we make the effort to include a diverse group of people in our lives in order to honor one of the prime implications of the gospel?
Many believe that this ruling will eventually lead us to being a more fair society and it might. Others are convinced that it was morally right regardless of the practical implications and they have a point. But should we at least ponder the possibility that it might ease the path toward us becoming a more separate society than we already are? And if it does would it really be that bad of a thing. If so, what are we the church of the living God willing to do about it?
To Him Who Loves Us...