The history of race and religion in the American South is infused with tragedy, survival, and water—from St. Augustine on the shores of Florida’s Atlantic Coast to the swampy mire of Jamestown to the floodwaters that nearly destroyed New Orleans. Determination, resistance, survival, even transcendence, shape the story of race and southern Christianities. In Christianity and Race in the American South, Paul Harvey gives us a narrative history of the South as it integrates into the story of religious history, fundamentally transforming our understanding of the importance of American Christianity and religious identity.
Harvey chronicles the diversity and complexity in the intertwined histories of race and religion in the South, dating back to the first days of European settlement. He presents a history rife with strange alliances, unlikely parallels, and far too many tragedies, along the way illustrating that ideas about the role of churches in the South were critically shaped by conflicts over slavery and race that defined southern life more broadly. Race, violence, religion, and southern identity remain a volatile brew, and this book is the persuasive historical examination that is essential to making sense of it.
The institutional structures of white supremacy—slavery, Jim Crow laws, convict leasing, and mass incarceration—require a commonsense belief that black people lack the moral and intellectual capacities of white people. It is through this lens of belief that racial exclusions have been justified and reproduced in the United States. Televised Redemption argues that African American religious media has long played a key role in humanizing the race by unabashedly claiming that blacks are endowed by God with the same gifts of goodness and reason as whites—if not more, thereby legitimizing black Americans’ rights to citizenship.
If racism is a form of perception, then religious media has not only altered how others perceive blacks, but has also altered how blacks perceive themselves. Televised Redemption argues that black religious media has provided black Americans with new conceptual and practical tools for how to be in the world, and changed how black people are made intelligible and recognizable as moral citizens. In order to make these claims to black racial equality, this media has encouraged dispositional changes in adherents that were at times empowering and at other times repressive. From Christian televangelism to Muslim periodicals to Hebrew Israelite radio, Televised Redemption explores the complicated but critical redemptive history of African American religious media.
In March, the Columbia University Press will release “Race and Secularism in America,” edited by Jonathon S. Kahn (Vassar College) and Vincent W. Lloyd (Syracuse University). The publisher’s description follows:
This anthology draws bold comparisons between secularist strategies to contain, privatize, and discipline religion and the treatment of racialized subjects by the American state. Specializing in history, literature, anthropology, theology, religious studies, and political theory, contributors expose secularism’s prohibitive practices in all facets of American society and suggest opportunities for change.
This book sheds new light on the role of religion in the nineteenth-century slavery debates. In it, Luke E. Harlow argues that ongoing conflict over the meaning of Christian ‘orthodoxy’ constrained the political and cultural horizons available for defenders and opponents of American slavery. The central locus of these debates was Kentucky, a border slave state with a long-standing antislavery presence. Although white Kentuckians famously cast themselves as moderates in the period and remained with the Union during the Civil War, their religious values showed no moderation on the slavery question. When the war ultimately brought emancipation, white Kentuckians found themselves in lockstep with the rest of the Confederate South. Racist religion thus paved the way for the making of Kentucky’s Confederate memory of the war, as well as a deeply entrenched white Democratic Party in the state.
Christians and the Color Line analyzes the complex entanglement of race and religion in the United States. Drawing on historical and contemporary examples of racialized religion, the essays in this volume consider the problem of race both in Christian congregations and in American society as a whole.
Belying the notion that a post-racial America has arrived, congregations in the US are showing an unprecedented degree of interest in overcoming the deep racial divisions that exist within American Protestantism. In one recent poll, for instance, nearly 70 percent of church leaders expressed a strong desire for their congregations to become racially and culturally diverse. To date, reality has eluded this professed desire as fewer than 10 percent of American Protestant churches have actually achieved multiracial status.
Employing innovative research from sociology, history, philosophy, and religious studies, the contributors to this volume use Michael Emerson and Christian Smith’s groundbreaking study Divided by Faith (Oxford, 2000) as their starting point to acknowledge important historical, sociological, and theological causations for racial divisions in Christian communities. Collectively, however, these scholars also offer constructive steps that Christians of all races might take to overcome the color line and usher in a new era of cross-racial engagement.
This story will strike many readers as odd, but it is nonetheless true. For decades, religious minorities in Turkey, especially Christians, have complained that the state assigns them secret identity codes. Christians maintain that government officials use the codes to discriminate against them when it comes to jobs, licenses, building permits, and so on. Of course, such discrimination would be illegal under Turkish law, which has banned religious discrimination since the Kemalist revolution. And complaints about secret identity codes surely must seem a bit paranoid to outsiders, a kind of conspiracy theory–though, given the genocide of Armenians and other Christians in Turkey 100 years ago, one could forgive Christians for being anxious.
The rumors turn out to be true, however. This month, for the first time, Turkey’s interior ministry acknowledged that the secret identity codes do, in fact, exist. When an Istanbul family tried to register its child at a local Armenian school recently, officials asked the family to prove it had the so-called “2” code. The family had never been notified of any code and inquired what the officials meant. The education ministry passed the buck to the interior ministry, which eventually acknowledged that it indeed categorizes religious minorities by secret numeric codes: “1” for Greek Orthodox Christians, “2” for Armenian Apostolic Christians, “3” for Jews, and so on. The family’s lawyer states that his clients are now “waiting for an official document saying, ‘Yes, your race code is ‘2,’ you can register in an Armenian school.’”
In acknowledging the secret classification system, the interior ministry said the information about religious identity comes from Ottoman records, which the ministry uses in order to help religious minorities exercise their rights under the Lausanne Treaty of 1923. With respect to education, for example, the ministry supplies the codes to school officials so that Armenians can attend Armenian schools. The government no longer collects information about religious or racial identity, the ministry claims.
Minority communities in Turkey are skeptical. If this was all on the up-and-up, why deny for so long that such codes exist? And why hide their existence from the so-called beneficiaries? After all, if the codes are meant to help minorities, you’d want to let the minorities know about them, not wait for local officials to reveal them by accident. And, given twentieth-century history, can anyone blame Christians in Turkey for thinking the codes are used to discriminate against them? The main opposition Republican People’s Party has threatened to make the issue of the secret codes a problem for the ruling AKP. “If this is true,” an opposition leader said, “it is fatal. It must be examined.” We’ll see.
A timely and original examination into the ways in which religion is conceptualized in two areas of law relating to children – child welfare cases and education law and policy. The book focuses on the relationship between race, religion and culture, bringing critical race and religion perspectives from other disciplines to bear on law.
The Scandal of White Complicity and U.S. Hyper-incarceration is a groundbreaking exploration of the moral role of white people in the disproportionate incarceration of African-Americans and Latinos in the United States. Alex Mikulich, Laurie Cassidy, and Margaret Pfeil are white Catholic theologians developing understanding of how whiteness operates in the U.S. system of incarceration and witnessing to a Christian nonviolent way for whites to subvert our oppression of brothers and sisters of color.
In this fascinating cultural history of interracial marriage and its legal regulation in the United States, Fay Botham argues that religion–specifically, Protestant and Catholic beliefs about marriage and race–had a significant effect on legal decisions concerning miscegenation and marriage in the century following the Civil War. She contends that the white southern Protestant notion that God “dispersed” the races and the American Catholic emphasis on human unity and common origins point to ways that religion influenced the course of litigation and illuminate the religious bases for Christian racist and antiracist movements.
From Stanford University Press, a new collection of essays, Race and PoliticalTheology,on how the experiences of Jews and African-Americans inform discussions about religion and politics. Vincent W. Lloyd (Syracuse) is the editor. The publisher’s description follows.
In this volume, senior scholars come together to explore how Jewish and African American experiences can make us think differently about the nexus of religion and politics, or political theology. Some wrestle with historical figures, such as William Shakespeare, W. E. B. Du Bois, Nazi journalist Wilhelm Stapel, and Austrian historian Otto Brunner. Others ponder what political theology can contribute to contemporary politics, particularly relating to Israel’s complicated religious/racial/national identity and to the religious currents in African American politics. Race and Political Theology opens novel avenues for research in intellectual history, religious studies, political theory, and cultural studies, showing how timely questions about religion and politics must be reframed when race is taken into account.