Divided By Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America

by Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith
Reviewed date: 2020 Jun 9
224 pages
Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America
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White evangelical Christians view racism the same way they view everything: as an individual sin problem. Racism, if it exists (white evangalicals often don't see racism), will be solved by individual people repenting of their sins, becoming Christians, and treating everyone with the dignity and value they have as beings made in the image of God. Therfore, the job of the church and of individual Christians is to evangelize and bring people to a personal, saving relationship with Jesus.

Black evangelicals view racism as a structural and systemic problem, and the church has a Christian duty to change the culture and reform the institutions that lead to the racialized society in America.

So although white Evangelical Christians are very much anti-racist, they do not work with black Evangelicals to reform American society in ways that will reduce racism. In particular, the focus on individual rights and individual relationships leaves white Evangelicals essentially blind to the concept of structural problems.

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