Synopses & Reviews
Conventional wisdom holds that Christians, as members of a “universal” religion, all believe more or less the same things when it comes to their faith. Yet black and white Christians differ in significant ways, from their frequency of praying or attending services to whether they regularly read the Bible or believe in Heaven or Hell. In this engaging and accessible sociological study of white and black Christian beliefs, Jason E. Shelton and Michael O. Emerson push beyond establishing that there are racial differences in belief and practice among members of American Protestantism to explore why those differences exist. Drawing on the most comprehensive and systematic empirical analysis of African American religious actions and beliefs to date, they delineate five building blocks of black Protestant faith which have emerged from the particular dynamics of American race relations. Shelton and Emerson find that Americas history of racial oppression has had a deep and fundamental effect on the religious beliefs and practices of blacks and whites across America.
"Blacks and Whites in Christian America is a major sociological examination of religion and race. Jason Shelton and Michael Emerson carefully document and analyze differences between black and white Americans in how they practice and express their Christian faith. They identify the enduring ways that the tragic American habit of racial oppression and privilege has worked to create a distinctive black sacred cosmos. With excellent national survey data and powerful supplemental interviews, they show the key building blocks and dynamics of the racialized religious experience in America. This book is a must read for anyone serious about understanding the interplay of race, religion, and American character."-Lawrence D. Bobo,W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of Social Sciences, Harvard
"This is a book about the religion of a people whose 'back is against the wall,' to quote Howard Thurmond, the African American theologian. Shelton and Emerson show how blacks, from slavery down to the present, have re-envisioned Christianity—a religion that was once used to give moral legitimacy to slavery—into a faith that has provided meaning, inspiration, and hope as they struggle to affirm their humanity and achieve racial justice."-Stephen Steinberg,Distinguished Professor of Urban Studies, Queens College
"This book will prove to be required reading for those that seek to comprehend the nuances in why religion and 'race' have historically created and shaped an outcome that now distinguishes different form of Christianity."- Choice ,
"This book is written in such a way that it is suitable for multiple audiences, with the more complex discussions of multivariate relationships largely available online or upon request. This work can fit well under multiple course offerings, including sociology of religion, culture, and race, as well as religious studies, ethics, theology, ethnic studies, and African-American studies. Undergraduate students will find this work engaging and illuminating. Graduate students in sociology will find this especially useful for its attention to detail, mixed-method approach, and substantive contributions for further hypothesis testing."-Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion,
"I strongly recommend Blacks and Whites in Christian America: How Racial Discrimination Shapes Religious Convictions. This is a rigorous study of race as a source of intragroup differences among Protestants and is a must read for anyone interested in the intersections of race, religion, and inequality in America."-Ryon J. Cobb,Sociology of Religion
About the Author
Jason E. Shelton is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Shelton's articles have appeared in Social Science Quarterly, Du Bois Review, Sociological Perspectives, Journal of African American Studies, and other respected publications. Michael O. Emerson is the Allyn and Gladys Cline Professor of Sociology and Co-Director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University. He is author or co-author of several books, including Divided By Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America, Transcending Racial Barriers, and Against All Odds: The Struggle for Racial Integration in Religious Organizations (NYU Press, 2005).