Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion & the Problem of Race in America
by Michael Emerson & Christian Smith
Last night’s book discussion went really well, and it makes me even more excited for this month’s meeting.
For my church‘s monthly Theology Book Club, I’m excited to have us read an especially timely and important book, Divided by Faith by sociologists Michael Emerson and Christian Smith. The opening lines of the Preface summarize their purpose beautifully:
To learn more about American life, this book examines the role of white evangelicalism in black-white relations. Our argument is that evangelicals desire to end racial division and inequality, and attempt to think and act accordingly. But, in the process, they likely do more to perpetuate the racial divide than they do to tear it down.
In America, we have a problem with race. White Christians, I think, genuinely act in good faith to play a positive role in race relations in America. And yet, they often end up unintentionally exacerbating some of the broader cultural problems that feed into racial injustice.
This book avoids caricatures of both sides, and gives an amazingly helpful account of the theology and history of race relations in America and how Evangelicalism has interacted in this. Reading it should be a place of challenge, grace, and growth for all of us involved. I’m really looking forward to our discussion later this month (here’s the Facebook event page).
Even if you don’t live in Philadelphia, feel free to join us in reading the book. I’ll try and blog about it through the month. You can use this blog or the Facebook page to offer your thoughts, questions, critiques, and concerns. Happy reading!