Title: Divided by Faith
Author: Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith
Synopsis: “Through a nationwide telephone survey of 2,000 people and an additional 200 face-to-face interviews, the authors probed the grassroots of white evangelical America. They found that despite recent efforts by the movement’s leaders to address the problem of racial discrimination, evangelicals themselves seem to be preserving America’s racial chasm. In fact, most white evangelicals see no systematic discrimination against blacks. But it is not active racism that prevents evangelicals from recognizing ongoing problems in American society. Instead, it is the evangelical movement’s emphasis on individualism, free will, and personal relationships that makes invisible the pervasive injustice that perpetuates racial inequality. Most racial problems, the subjects told the authors, can be solved by the repentance and conversion of the sinful individuals at fault…”
Why I can’t live without this book: As some of you know, I’m fairly new to the conversation of race. Even though I’m passionate about issues of racial justice and reconciliation, it’s not always been on the forefront of my mind – because it didn’t have to be. But this book, written toward a Christian audience, was the first book I read that really introduced me to the problem at hand and helped me understand my role in it. It’s a phenomenal read, especially if you’re interested in stepping into the color dialogue.
(One of my) favorite quotes: “From the isolated, individualistic perspective of most white evangelicals and many other Americans, there really is no race problem other than bad interpersonal relationships.” How true (and sad) I’ve found this to be.
So, Divided by Faith: have you read it? When it comes to conversations of racial reconciliation, particularly within the context of the church, how did it change you?
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