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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 48 pages of information about The American Missionary Volume 42, No. 06, June, 1888.

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THE COLOR-LINE QUESTION:  WHAT IS IT?

1.  It is not the question of social equality.  No one doubts the right of individuals, or the family, or the social circle, to draw their lines of association and fellowship at their own pleasure, whether at wealth, rank, fashion, talent, or anything else.  To confound this with the real question, is not candid.

2.  Still less is it the question of the inter-marriage of the races.  Here, individual preference is undeniable.  To claim that this is the question, and to ask tauntingly:  “Do you want your daughter to marry a nigger?” is ungentlemanly and unworthy of an answer.

3.  The question is:  Shall a line be drawn between the white and black races, giving rights and privileges in Church and State to the one race, which are denied to the other, solely because of race or color?  In other words:  Shall a line be drawn which shall separate the Negroes, and assign them as a race to the position of inferiors irrespective of merit or character, and merely on the ground of race or color?

To narrow the discussion, we leave out of view the civil or political aspect of the question and confine ourselves to the religious, and we propose to give a few illustrations.  A Negro in every way qualified, in character, piety, and intelligence, applies for membership in a white church.  Shall the color-line be drawn and he be refused admission for no other reason than that he is a Negro?  This does not imply that the whites and blacks should be urged or persuaded to unite in all churches or in any church.  It may be conceded that the blacks generally do not desire to unite with white churches, and that, in their present state of culture, it may not always be for their edification to do so.  But where an individual Negro does believe that it would be for his edification and growth in grace to belong to a white church, shall the color that God stamped on him, or the race in which God gave him his birth, be a sufficient reason {150} for refusing him?  The question and the principle apply equally if the Negro should be given to understand that while he would not actually be refused admission, yet the preference of the church would be that he should not apply; nay, we do not see why the principle is not the same if the well-known attitude of the church on the race question should be such that the Christian self-respect of the Negro would not allow him to make the application.

Again, shall colored churches, conferences or presbyteries be formed on the same territory in order that the colored members may not unite with the white churches, conferences or presbyteries?  Shall a line be run between the races on the simple ground of race or color, and irrespective of character, convenience or choice, so that the Negro as a church member shall not be allowed to choose the church he shall join,

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