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White Evangelical Racism

The Politics of Morality in America

By Anthea Butler

White Evangelical Racism

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

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6117-9
    Published: March 2021

Ferris and Ferris Books

Hardcover Available March 2021, but pre-order your copy today!

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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.

About the Author

Anthea Butler is associate professor of religion at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making a Sanctified World. A leading historian and public commentator on religion and politics, Butler has appeared on networks including CNN, BBC, and MSNBC and has published opinion pieces in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and many other media outlets.
For more information about Anthea Butler, visit the Author Page.


“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

"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

“A searing indictment of the American evangelical tradition. As Anthea Butler shrewdly illustrates, racism is embedded in the deepest structures of evangelicalism, viscerally present from the slaveholding Christianity of Frederick Douglass’s era to ongoing evangelical support for the bigoted policies of former Donald Trump. Urging us to see evangelicalism as a nationalistic political movement upholding white hegemony, Butler has written a dazzling book: an essential, if excruciating, read for those personally shaped by evangelicalism no less than for those flummoxed by it.”—R. Marie Griffith, author of Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics

“Spotlighting how white evangelicals have espoused and practiced an enduring commitment to white supremacy and anti-Blackness from antebellum America to Donald Trump and beyond, White Evangelical Racism stands out for its historical breadth and for Anthea Butler’s unique gifts as both an accomplished African American historian and a popular media writer. This book will be greeted with great anticipation and attention.”—Lerone A. Martin, author of Preaching on Wax

“Terrific. Provocative. Solidly argued. Amid all the efforts to make sense of evangelicals’ political identity, I know of no one besides Anthea Butler who does so with such a disciplined and historically grounded approach—combined with a fluid, direct, and personal style. While focusing on evangelicals’ history, Butler shows how we’ve all been shaped and indicted by racism, and she doesn’t let us off the hook.”—Julie J. Ingersoll, author of Building God’s Kingdom