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White Evangelical Racism

The Politics of Morality in America

176 pp., 5 x 7.5, bibl., index

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6117-9
    Published: March 2021
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-6118-6
    Published: February 2021

Ferris and Ferris Books

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The American political scene today is poisonously divided, and the vast majority of white evangelicals play a strikingly unified, powerful role in the disunion. These evangelicals raise a starkly consequential question for electoral politics: Why do they claim morality while supporting politicians who act immorally by most Christian measures? In this clear-eyed, hard-hitting chronicle of American religion and politics, Anthea Butler answers that racism is at the core of conservative evangelical activism and power.

Butler reveals how evangelical racism, propelled by the benefits of whiteness, has since the nation’s founding played a provocative role in severely fracturing the electorate. During the buildup to the Civil War, white evangelicals used scripture to defend slavery and nurture the Confederacy. During Reconstruction, they used it to deny the vote to newly emancipated blacks. In the twentieth century, they sided with segregationists in avidly opposing movements for racial equality and civil rights. Most recently, evangelicals supported the Tea Party, a Muslim ban, and border policies allowing family separation. White evangelicals today, cloaked in a vision of Christian patriarchy and nationhood, form a staunch voting bloc in support of white leadership. Evangelicalism’s racial history festers, splits America, and needs a reckoning now.

Reviews

“Show[s] how evangelicals’ contemporary embrace of right-wing politics is rooted in its centuries-long problem with race. This scathing takedown of evangelicalism’s ‘racism problem’ will challenge evangelicals to confront and reject racism within church communities.”--Publishers Weekly

"A concise history of the racism that structures white evangelical Christianity in America. . . . [The] clear and forceful synthesis provides a useful entry point for evangelicals and non-evangelicals alike seeking to learn the history and contemporary reality of white evangelical political power in the United States."--Library Journal

"[Butler's] ability to weave together history, personal experience, and contemporary reflection in such a cohesive and approachable manner makes White Evangelical Racism stand out. . . . By critiquing and unequivocally condemning White evangelical racism while also acknowledging another evangelical lineage, Butler presents masterful critique while still providing space for a much-needed nuance often missed when speaking about the tradition in America as a whole."--The Christian Century

"By placing before us a truer narrative of where we are, even as policies of voter suppression are undertaken by self-described Christians in elected office across the country, Anthea Butler has given us a gift of discernment."--Chapter 16

"Every so often a book comes along that distills essential truths so crisply, so powerfully, that it feels not just valuable but vital--alive with the clear, brilliant, and even thrilling thinking we need like we need water and air. Anthea Butler writes with force and grace of what is, how it came to be, and why it must change. White Evangelical Racism is an American revelation, in the real, deep sense of that rightly troubling word."—Jeff Sharlet, best-selling author of The Family and This Brilliant Darkness

“A half century ago, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. observed that 'the most segregated hour of Christian America is 11 o’clock on Sunday morning.’ In this powerful book, Anthea Butler reckons with the ways in which religious devotion and racial division still reinforce each other in the lives of many evangelical Christians to this day."—Kevin M. Kruse, author of One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America