Three tips on teaching your children about racism

January 21, 2020

Parenting is hard, but learning how to parent as a white mom to black, white, and biracial children and discuss racial issues with them has been quite the journey. They are not naïve to the realities of living in a broken society. I’m burdened that talking about racism and racial reconciliation is a conversation that we need to have because we bear the responsibility of training them up in the Lord in our family and faith community. Raising children who not only see the brokenness in our society, but know that the gospel speaks a better word is powerful. So, here are three tips on speaking to your children about racism.   

1. Use Scripture as a starting point

Christians should understand that where there is brokenness, there’s the opportunity to reflect the redemptive character of God. The racial divide in our nation presents the opportunity for Christians to bring light into a dark space. When talking to our children about this, it’s important to make sure their understanding is rooted in Scripture. 

The Bible is clear about God’s love for all people. It is absolute when declaring the good news of Jesus Christ is for all nations (1 Chron. 16:23-24; Matt. 28:19; Rev. 7:9). It is emphatic that believers are called to care about the good of all people (Matt. 25:31-40; James 2: 1-13; Isa. 1:17; Deut. 15:4-5; 1 John 3:17). Unity in the body of believers, a unity that transcends family ties and ethnicity, is preached throughout the New Testament. The concept that all men and women are made in the image of God is a theological doctrine that believers hold to, and all of these truths should affect the way we live with and love each other. 

So when talking to our kids about racism, the foundation for our conversation needs to be rooted in the Word of God. Cultural perspectives might shift and change, but our God and his Word never change. And if we believe the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword and that it has the power to renew our minds, then we should run to it as our primary resource to begin tackling the social ills of our day—and teach our children to do so as well.  

2. Be honest about the realities of sin in our world 

With Scripture as our foundation, we can boldly engage the realities of sin in our world. Children understand a lot more than we give them credit for, and we are not doing them any favors by pretending the sin of racism does not exist. From an early age, it’s important to teach children about sin and our great need for Jesus. And then when that foundation is built, it is possible to start discussing the history of our nation and its current state. 

When talking to your children about race and racism, it's important to focus on four key features:

Here are a few age-appropriate ideas to start the conversation:

Young children: 

To introduce imago Dei and God’s love for all people: Specifically name ethnicities. Use picture books to help build this foundation. Phrases we use in our family are: “All people are made in the image of God,” and “No person or group of people is better than others,” and “Who did God come to save? ALL people.” 

Talking to your children about the sin of racism is hard, and it's okay to not have all the answers, but doing and saying nothing is not an option.

To establish sin nature: “Do all people sin? Yes, they do. That’s why God sent Jesus to save us all from our sin. Are all people, including you and mommy and daddy, capable of doing bad things? Yes. That’s why we need Jesus!”

To affirm the beauty and dignity of all people: When reading children’s picture books, be sure to include a diverse selection and call out beauty when we see it in characters of all colors, “Oh look at her beautiful dark eyes,” or “Wow, he seems really smart and kind!” 

To introduce the history of racism: Use the Bible story about Moses leading his people out of Egypt and how Pharaoh treated the Israelites poorly to show how sometimes certain people groups use power to control, enslave, and mistreat other groups of people. 

Ages 6-11: 

To introduce imago Dei and God’s love for all people: Say, “Everyone is made in the image of God— that means that white people, brown people, black people, and every shade in between all reflect God uniquely and equally.”

To establish that racism is a sin: Say, “Some people believe that some groups of people are better than others based on the color of their skin. This is called racism. Does God believe that? No. What does Scripture say about that? Scripture tells us that racism is sin. Yet, praise God because he made a way for us to confess our sin and repent.”

To affirm the beauty and dignity of all people: Say, “Our family believes that all people are made in the image of God, so we celebrate the differences in skin color and culture. When people are mean to other people and when their words and actions work toward hurting other people, we stand up for what’s right. We use our words, our resources, and our power to help others because that is what Jesus did for us.”

To introduce the history of racism: Show age-appropriate videos or read them books on the civil rights movement. Talk to them about slavery, but also talk to them about racism that currently exists in our country. 

Ages 11+: 

At this point, as your child ages, have more honest and in-depth conversations on race and what Scripture has to say about it. We recommend doing this in community with your local church, which is why Lifeway and the ERLC have produced a new resource for adults called “The Church and the Racial Divide.” When having these conversations, be sure to follow the four-point framework above.

3. Read diverse books that honor the imago Dei in all people

There is a well-known theory on representation in education called “Windows and Mirrors,” introduced by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop.[1] The idea behind this concept is that children use books as both windows to look into other cultures and mirrors by seeing themselves reflected in their current society. Children need books where they see themselves, and they need books where they see other cultures valued. And if there is an imbalance (too many windows or too many mirrors), harm is done to both majority and minority children. 

Dr. Bishop states, “When children cannot find themselves reflected in the books they read, or when the images they see are distorted, negative, or laughable, they learn a powerful lesson about how they are devalued in the society of which they are a part.”[2] And on the other end of the spectrum, when the majority of children primarily see “reflections of themselves, they will grow up with an exaggerated sense of their own importance and value in the world – a dangerous ethnocentrism.”[3]

Education research shows what Christians should know to be true: God’s love for all people should be evident in all that we do, including the books that we read. Books like God’s Very Good Idea, When God Made You, ColorFull, ThoughtFull, GraceFull, and The Tiny Truths Illustrated Bible are all books that can help disciple your children in seeing the dignity and value of all people. 

Having a diverse and beautiful book collection for your children can be a catalyst for change, but it won’t be nearly as effective if you’re not having continual conversations with them about these books and engaging in diverse relationships. Yet, books like these are beautiful resources to assist you in your endeavors to talk about and model a love for all people. 


Talking to your children about the sin of racism is hard, and it's okay to not have all the answers, but doing and saying nothing is not an option. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said in a speech at Oberlin College in 1965, “The time is always right to do what is right.” And it’s my personal observation that many parents want to talk to their kids about race, but they just don’t know where to start. Let us not be a generation who turns away from difficult conversations, but instead let us press into them, proclaiming the restorative hope that the gospel offers. I am praying that this list will serve your family as you equip your children to talk about and confront racism Biblically. 


  1. ^ Bishop, R. S. (1990a). Mirrors, Windows, and sliding glass doors. Perspectives, 6(3), ix-xi.
  2. ^ Bishop, R. S. (1990b). Walk tall in the world: African American literature for today’s children. The journal of Negro Education, 59(4), 556-565.
  3. ^ Bishop, R. S. (1990b).

Brittany Salmon

Brittany Salmon is a professor, writer, and Bible teacher. She is the author of the book It Takes More than Love: A Christian Guide to Cross-Cultural Adoption releasing in April, 2022. She has an MA in Intercultural Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, an M.A. in Teaching from NC State … Read More

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24