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Church launches 'Racists Anonymous' meetings as well as 12-step program to help 'race addicts'

Posted September 7

Twelve-step programs typically help people overcome drug or alcohol dependency, but one North Carolina church has developed its own set of steps to combat personal and institutional racism.

People passing by Trinity United Church of Christ in Concord, North Carolina, are sure to notice a sign with big, bold letters that reads, "Racists Anonymous (RA)."

There's also a tagline that warns, "Racism: Ignore it...and it won't go away," as well as a call for people to come to the church for Racist Anonymous meetings on Wednesday evenings from 6 p.m. until 7 p.m.

Those meetings, which are anonymous, are run by a licensed therapist and follow a traditional 12-step program. So far, the gatherings have been filled mostly with church members, though some outside people in the local community have also started to show up, according to WCNC-TV.

The goal? To get people talking about their personal experiences with racism.

"Well, some people say they're racist, some people say they're not sure. But we're becoming clearer and clearer on the unconscious racism that we all carry," Carol Stanley, who facilitates Racists Anonymous at the church, told WJZY-TV. "It's a way to address one's own racism as a spiritual practice and discipline."

Rev. Nathan King, faith leader at Trinity United, told the outlet he launched the effort after starting to grow tired and weary of the shootings and racial unrest that have unfolded in society of late.

"It seemed like every week we were coming into worship and we were doing another prayer because someone had been killed in the street," King told the outlet, explaining why he created Racists Anonymous. "It's to deal with the racism within ourselves and to eliminate the racism within ourselves."

Another catalyst for Trinity United's decision to take part was a sister church in California that recently began holding meetings, asking King to do the same.

Describing the church as "progressive," King said it has ordained female as well as openly gay clergy in the past, according to WJCY-TV.

As for battling racism, the pastor said more must be done.

"I think the churches came together on civil rights," King said. "I was a product of that, but I think we got complacent and it's crept back in."

In a Facebook post published earlier this month, Trinity United attempted to clear up some confusion over the "principles" surrounding Racists Anonymous, publishing the full text of the church's "12 Steps of Recovery."

"I have come to admit that I am powerless over my addiction to racism in ways I am unable to recognize fully, let alone manage," reads the first step.

The second step proclaims, "I believe that only a power greater than me can restore me in my humanness to the non-racist creature as God designed me to be."

Additional steps go on to place reliance upon God, to decry bias against people based on a variety of factors, to urge members to "make amends" with those they have hurt and to ask that participants seek prayer.

The final step asks members to reach out to fellow "race addicts."

"As I have spiritual awakenings as the result of these steps, I will share this message with other race addicts as I seek to practice these principles in all my affairs," the text reads.

Email: bhallowell@deseretnews.com Twitter: billyhallowell Facebook: facebook.com/billyhallowell

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