Racism in America began during the days of the early settlers of this nation with the maltreatment of the American Indian and the institution of slavery. The American Indian and the African-American were “scarcely” considered “as human species”. There was no “penalty for a master killing a slave as a result of punishment”. Magistrates of the time were little better than the slave-owners. The magistrates were often “in a perfect state of war…man against man. Settlement of these “wars” was by blows or at other times by law. Men were “left dependent upon their native tempers and on the spur of uncertain industry”.1
The maltreatment of the American Indian and the institution of slavery were by-products of moral depravation that characterized America during its earliest settlement. This moral depravation was produced by two factors. They were 1) many early settlers were either non-Christians or backslidden.2 2) Life for the settlers was HARD. Many settlers were not equipped to deal with the hardship of early settlement life. They were an “uncouth and…partially wild society”3 and sought a “way out” of the hardship.
Religion in America did little to offset the moral depravation because it was Calvinistic. Evidently the doctrine of predestination that taught, “the elect were determined by the sovereign will of God” did not change the hearts and minds of early Caucasian settlers toward the American Indian and the African. To the contrary, it might
have aided the racism. For if one is taught, “God did not intend everyone to go to Heaven”, it is quite possible to convince oneself that American Indians and native Africans are among those counted as an anathema.
Against this backdrop of moral decline and popularly handicapped religion entered Wesleyan holiness preaching. This type of preaching 1) was based on Arminian theology that taught, “salvation is for all” 2) emphasized holiness of heart 3) was rooted in Pietism that in addition to the possibility of a firm personal experience with God that [positively] affects the Christian’s manner of life, emphasized social reform. The result of such preaching was a heart felt conviction that the barbarous institution of slavery was a sin and the impetus to eradicate it from American life.
The Holy Ghost outpouring at Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles, California fell upon a Wesleyan holiness ministry. Because it was Wesleyan holiness, this ministry had a solid spiritual foundation for interracial worship. Wesleyan sanctification teaching under-girded the teaching of Holy Ghost baptism. As a result a Wesleyan-Pentecostal movement was produced that was characterized by interracial worship during a time when racial segregation of Protestant churches was the norm. This characteristic continues today in a Wesleyan-Pentecostal university and Wesleyan-Pentecostal ministries.