Charles Marsh: What keeps us in a racist society?
Will Campbell: Well, power. And wealth. The civil rights movement was in part about the distribution of America’s wealth but that never really got off the ground, its too ingrained. So vote, go and vote. They’re not gonna be the CEOs and they’re not.
CM: Do you think the church still has the power to affect some racial healing in this country or to energize reconciliation?
WC: I think it does, if it wanted to. But again, and this is what I would, I have to read that new book, first book I ever wrote on the church, that we started, in my judgment, at the wrong place, at the wrong, we had a wrong start. If it had been theological from the outset, but it wasn’t.
CM: Mmm, that’s such a good point.
WC: And I think it, there should never have been a Department of Christian Social Relations, there should only have been a Department of Evangelism. But evangelism meant there being recruitment and growth and what we have now after the problem. But if the starting point had been God was in Christ and the son reconciled and if it had been all flesh is grass and we were grasshoppers who start dying and all that, you know, and one of them mentioned James (indistinct) and one of the most potent things he ever said was that white people don’t take that seriously, don’t think they are ever going to die.
CM: Hmm, hmm.
WC: But the church at its best and this would include the Presbyterians, the American Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Episcopalians, the Catholics a little better than the (indistinct) but they were, they were the do-gooders, you know, the social reformers andthis is (indistinct). I am not a social reformer.
CM: So you think Catholicism’s emphasis on the crucified body offers kind of theological foundation that is lacking?
WC: I think it did, I think it worked at a number of places. It has worked in Louisiana, when old Judge Perez was excommunicated, that’s a pretty serious, pretty serious matter in Catholic circles. And, you know, Bishop Waters of North Carolina stood in the door and said we’re not gonna block these people.