05 December 2005
An intriguing story from The Guardian about an mission-minded evangelical megachurch from Nigeria settling among the “whitest people” of Floyd, Texas — until recently, an enclave of the Ku Klux Klan — to build their church headquarters, complete with a combination amphitheatre/waterpark/artificial lake that’s led some to call it a budding Christian Disneyland. The narratives running through the story are thick: a reverse missionary experience; Big-Church African immigrants facing off against a community of poor-but-white old boys who live in evocatively-named trailer parks such as “Mockingbird Estates.” Among these narratives though, the positive power of the “anti-racism” story, wherein the black Africans teach the white Americans a thing or two about Jesus, easily wins out, overpowering any more conflicted questions, such as this one from a “good old girl,” whose trepidation about her new, megachurch neighbors could be racism or could be something else: “‘They ain’t nothin’ but a big cult. What’s the difference between them and Waco?’” Or, even, what’s the difference between them and the builders of a white megachurch, and why is one seen as benignly “good for the community,” while the other is a constitutional threat? Neither question is likely to be answered any time soon.