Leith Anderson is president emeritus of the National Association of Evangelicals and pastor emeritus of Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. He served as NAE president from 2007–2019, after twice serving as interim president. He served as senior pastor of Wooddale Church for 35 years before retiring in 2011. He has been published in many periodicals and has written over 20 books. Anderson has a Doctor of Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary, and is a graduate of Moody Bible Institute, Bradley University and Denver Seminary.
America has always been a nation of racial diversity with Spaniards in Florida, English in Massachusetts, Africans in Georgia and Native Americans across the continent. Diversity yes but with a majority-minority divide for most of our history — majority white and multiple minorities.
By 2044 there will be no majority race in America. In 28 years whites are estimated to make up 49.7 percent of the population, Hispanics 25 percent, blacks 12.7 percent, Asians 3.7 percent and another 3.7 percent will be multiracial. The all-minorities make-up of the future has already arrived in 266 U.S. counties that are home to 31 percent of today’s population. The future has also arrived among American 5-year-olds — an age group where no race is 50 percent or more.
The racial distribution across the nation varies widely. Hawaii has never had a white majority. Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, West Virginia, Iowa and Wyoming are all more than 90 percent white. California, Maryland, Mississippi and Georgia are all trending to be the next “majority minority states” made up of all minority groups rather than a majority of one group.
The reasons for the racial diversification of America are many. The white population is aging and dying faster than replacement babies are being born. Birthrates are higher among parents of color. While Europe supplied most immigrants in earlier generations, most immigrants over the past half century have come from other continents.
None of this is new for those who read the Bible. Joseph married an Egyptian (Genesis 41:45). Moses married an African (Numbers 12:1). Pentecost integrated the early church with people from across the empire (Acts 2). Simeon was the black leader of the Antioch church that commissioned Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:1). The list could go on.
Our American churches have often addressed racial issues poorly. Majority churches and denominations have sinned against our minority sisters and brothers. Inherited prejudice and injustice has become repeated prejudice and injustice. Now we have an opportunity that brings a new and different challenge. Will we isolate into racial minority silos that segregate society and the church, or will we seize the opportunity that changing demographics brings to our generation?
For some the future has already arrived in America. It is the present and future where “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
This article originally appeared in Evangelicals magazine.