WHEN I CONSIDER the link between race, religion and terror in America, my thoughts go well beyond the actions of Edward Archer, who told investigators he was acting "in the name of Islam" when he was caught on video shooting Philadelphia Police Officer Jesse Hartnett three times.

For me, issues of race, terror and religion are more often connected to the religion I happen to practice - Christianity. From Baptist preachers who doubled as Klan leaders in the darkest days of Jim Crow, to Bible-thumping Aryan Nation leaders who carried on the legacy of religiously inspired bigotry, self-proclaimed Christians have committed numerous acts of terror in this country. And most often, they have done so in support of America's original sin-racism.

That's why I was glad to learn that the American Bible Society and Biblical Theological Seminary are convening "Under My Skin," an evening of conversations about racial issues in the Christian church. The event will take place at American Bible Society in Center City on Feb. 8.

Dr. Frank James, president of Biblical Theological Seminary, said the conversations are necessary to move beyond the troubling history of the Christian church on race.

"We need to move forward and be engaged and ask honest questions," James told me in an interview. "We all need to be held accountable for what has been said in the name of Christ and to have serious conversations about it. That's what this is about. We call it courageous conversations about race and the church."

I agree, because if the church is to turn away from being a key driver of systemic racism in America, respected white Christian theologians such as James will need to both express and listen to hard truths.

Here is one of those truths. Church-sanctioned misinterpretation of biblical scripture has often provided the moral and political foundation for bigotry in this country. And while many of those interpretations have changed, politicians continue to use racist language to court the so-called Evangelical Christian vote.

It's sickening to watch Donald Trump spew hate-filled invective against blacks, Latinos and others, and then stand before a crowd of so-called evangelical Christians at Liberty University and pander for Christian support.

It's farcical to watch Ted Cruz sitting in camouflage gear with "Duck Dynasty" patriarch Phil Robertson, who called Cruz "godly" in granting his endorsement. Robertson, of course, gained fame by making racist and otherwise offensive comments in a GQ interview in 2013.

But race, religion and politics have long maintained a troubling relationship in America, so none of us should be surprised.

The Southern Baptist Convention was founded in 1845 as a pro-slavery and segregationist offshoot of the Baptist Church, and its stance against the attainment of Civil Rights for blacks extended into the mid-1990s, when the SBC formally apologized for its racist past.

The Ku Klux Klan, a terror group that claimed to adhere to Christian ideals, burned crosses in acts of racial intimidation beginning in 1915. They claimed these sacrilegious acts represented their faith in Christ, but the cross burnings often took place before blacks were lynched.

James, a historian by training, understands the past better than most.

"People in the name of Christ have justified their racist behavior," he said. "It's a very troubling history and it ranges not only in the mistreatment of African-Americans, but it even extends to Native Americans, women, and people of other races, as well. Religion has been used to justify all manner of injustices."

Change will be hard, but it's beginning. My church, a black church called Great Commission, is part of the Southern Baptist Convention, an organization that elected its first black president in 2012. Black and white Christians are cautiously coming together to address issues of race and justice.

But that's not enough. Race remains an open sore in too many corners of the church, and James says he knows it.

"The world is changing very rapidly and you can't be an effective minister of the gospel if don't engage these questions openly and honestly," he said.

There's only one response to that - Amen.

Solomon Jones is the author of 10 books. Listen to him mornings from 7 to 10 on WURD (900-AM). Reach him at sj@solomonjones.com. His column will appear here weekly.

On Twitter: @solomonjones1