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Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America
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Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  330 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Through a nationwide telephone survey of 2,000 people and an additional 200 face-to-face interviews, Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith 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. ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 6th 2001 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published July 20th 2000)
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Daniel
Dec 28, 2007 Daniel rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: evangelicals interested in racial reconciliation
This book rocked my world. I developed a heart for racial reconciliation in college through InterVarsity and saw the need for it in the church at large. I watched as minority bible stuides were formed, and collapsed, as some leaders will developed and as the fellowship remained relatively mono-ethnic.

This book, written from a socialogical point of view, articulated a lot of the frustrations I have had over the years with the high inertia and heavy cost required for racial reconciliation. As the
...more
david shin
This is a very good sociology book on how evangelical America is just as divided (if not more) by race and socio-economics. It is a sharp criticism of the American church, of its racism and bias towards class and ethnicity. Truly a wake up call for anyone who says they're a follower of Jesus.
James Kim
Here's the thing...I really didn't want to like this book. In fact in the first several chapters I was convinced that this was a book written with an agenda and all that the author was doing was backing up his bias with data that supported his bias. The more I read the book, the more this book caused me to think and reflect on the racialization of America and what role Evangelical Christianity has had in maintaining that racialization.

Where I am now is that the author presents the evangelical c
...more
Chris
Fantastic book. It's been a few years since I first read it, and I have yet to come across such an excellent assessment of the issues of race in today's church. It also contains great material for helping White Christians understand the concerns of those of other racial groups. I wish all American Christians would read this book.
Pat
Aug 30, 2008 Pat rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Any Christian interested in race relations
Recommended to Pat by: Saw it referenced in The Jesus Creed
An excellent study on the issue of racism (and the racialization of our country) and the evangelical church. Unfortunately, it would appear that when it comes to race, many evangelicals are directed more by their social structures and beliefs, such as individualism, than their religious convictions. Many white evangelicals interviewed for the study blame the race problem on "individual sin" rather than social structures that lend themselves to racialization. Thus, racism is a problem of individu ...more
Nelson
….((Christian sociologists take a look at evangelical religion and the racial problems in America…. ’THE’ recommended book to begin with on racial reconciliation))…… White Christians think from an individual perspective and not a systematic prospective….i.e., “if we get Jesus into their lives, everything will be fine”….Blacks know that the “playing field” is not level…..i.e., the system is racialized and it takes Jesus and a level playing field…. As such the white churches can not effect change ...more
Steve
This book, when it was published, confirmed what I knew in my gut.
The sad fact is that we, as a nation, guilty before God in making Sunday morning "the most segregated hour in America" and ignoring the words of
Matthew 25. The failure of American Church, Black as well as White, has led us to this moment. Emerson's study is a stinging indictment of the church. In a very sophisticated study he opens the evangelical church for a careful analysis of why racial reconciliation has failed. The only thin
...more
Paul Froehlich
Divided by Faith has a startling thesis, namely that white evangelicals unwittingly help to perpetuate and reinforce the racial divide, both by how their churches grow, and by their individualistic worldview. Only 4 percent of white Protestants name racism as a top issue for Christians, compared to 25 percent of black Protestants, who named it the top issue.

Conservative Christians still struggle to see the racialized system as a problem to be challenged, as opposed to just individually rejectin
...more
Dave
Something of a classic now on race relations within evangelicalism. I believe Emerson and Smith's argument has been argued and picked apart since their book first appeared, though I am not up on all the responses. At first blush, their conclusion is pretty convicting for a white evangelical like myself:

“Most white evangelicals, directed by their cultural tools, fail to recognize the institutionalization of racialization––in economic, political, educational, social, and religious systems. They th
...more
Mike
Divided by Faith does an excellent job of showing the white evangelical community another perspective regarding the issues (both past and present) of race in our nation. It can be a quite sobering and convicting read. The authors data and analysis was well done. This book is not some person's opinion, but a look at the reality of the challenge.

I didn't give it 5 stars for a few reasons. First, they seem to have started with their conclusion rather than letting it reveal itself; their conclusion
...more
Ken Garrett
This is a useful introduction into the issue of racial dynamics in the US, particularly as manifested in our overtly segregated churches. The book is limited to Black-White relations, and is an extended exploration of the White Evangelical church's response to the "racialization" of America, the church's role in that, and its inability (ultimately) do address the problem. There is a fascinating explanation of the Niche Edge Hypothesis, in which is it postulated that members who are on the "edges ...more
Alex Houseknecht
This is a stunning work on evangelicalism and race. The main argument of this book is that evangelicals, though attempting to address the problem of racialization in America, actually end up further perpetuating racism through their denial of the systemic issues that impact people of color. In this text, the authors focus on the black/white divide in particular.

One of the major problems is that evangelicals tend to focus specifically on individual, interpersonal relationships. Using a limited to
...more
Cayce
A great anti-racist starting point for evangelicals who think race isn't a problem in the church/anymore. Authors provide sound research and a generous (and gracious) examination of the white evangelical church culture that prevents integration. They include some ideas for how churches can make progress, but there are other books that do more and better with that topic.
Dave
Emerson opens up a can of worms... he gets below the surface of the average discussions on racism... expands the issue with his concept of "racialization" and really moves the reader to re-think his/her own racism. Whether you are into racial reconciliation or not, this book should be read by everyone.
Devon
Instead of helping things, the Church - with few exceptions throughout history - has exacerbated the race problem in America. Overall this book is great when it comes to outlining the problem, but a little weak in terms of solutions.
Nicolas
If you're a Christian and your white, AND you believe that racial reconciliation isn't relevant anymore. This book is for you.
John
Emerson and Smith primarily stay in their lane -- as they detail their sociological study on the status of black and white relations within the American evangelical church. It isn't a particularly hopeful picture they paint, but it is a very helpful mirror that is raised particularly to the white evangelical church and the real need for the church to address racial issues they think have been put to bed. When Emerson and Smith finally move out of their lane at the end of the book and provide som ...more
Caroline
Feb 21, 2010 Caroline rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Caroline by: Jlnelso
Shelves: 2010, nonfiction
Be prepared for the academic writing style. Very interesting and enlightening. I'm so glad I read this book.
Mike E.
This book is written by sociologists from Rice and UNC who write in the typical detached pseudo-objective world of scholarship. You will find no solutions here. They do not freely reveal their own experiences, convictions, world-views, etc. Their book is an analysis of white evangelicals and our perpetuation of what they call "racialization." In short, they argue that well-meaning (and fairly stupid) evangelicals perpetuate and even exasperate the disparate life experiences, economic opportuniti ...more
Jessica
An insightful look into different evangelical perspectives on issues of race, especially racial segregation, inequality and discrimination. In this book, Emerson and Smith examine how different racial/ethnic groups use various sets of culturally determined tools for understanding and reacting to issues of race in the U.S. Through survey research and in-depth interviews, the authors provide the reader with different explanations and formulations concerning the state the white-black divide. Major ...more
Rebecca
I struggled with Divided by Faith. I am white, but not conservative evangelical. While I do not reject the premise that white evangelical religion may be exacerbating racialization in our society, I struggled with the authors’ methodology in arriving at this conclusion. They surveyed approximately 2,500 Americans by phone. In a nation of over 300 million people, this means that they talked with .0008% of us to reach their conclusions. Though they indicate that they used random sampling methods t ...more
Tope
Oct 21, 2011 Tope rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Christians, people interested in understanding American right-wing politics
A well-written, insightful analysis of the ways in which the culture and structure of white evangelicalism perpetuates racial inequities and division despite overt commitments to racial equality. Factors include white evangelical insistence that all sin and division between people can only be the product of individual choices or faults (leading many to blame blacks and other people of color for racial inequality), which both prevents the possibility of recognizing structural factors that create ...more
Ian Hammond
A diagnosis but not a detailed prescription. The diagnosis: the evangelical mind construes racism as a purely individualized problem (absent of institutional problems) and thus contributes to the continued racialization of society. "A racialized society is a society wherein race matters profoundly for differences in life experiences, life opportunities, and social relationships" (p .7). The prescription: a call for deeper thinking on the evangelicals' part. Thinking that deals with economic ineq ...more
James Hansee
I was recommended this book by an African-American friend of mine. The book was tough to read emotionally because the authors get so much right. They do not offer solutions and in fact many of their conclusions are discouraging, but for anyone wanting to intelligently think through the issues of race and religion, this book is a must read.
Rebecca Depoe
I read this book for a staff retreat. This isn't a book about a theological perspective, but an amalgamation of a vast variety of empirical data that argues for America as a racialized society. Before I read this book, I too did not think that America was a racialized society. Since I have never experienced racism or acted in a raciest way, I thought the race problem did not apply to me. But Emerson and Smith convinced me of the deep chasm of segregation and racial discrimination, and how I as a ...more
Chelsey Hillyer
A great book for understanding how Christianity became shorthand for white supremacy in the United States. Must-read for liberal-progressive Christians who are committed to social justice, as it gives perspective on how embedded androcentrism is in US Christianity (and Christendom, really).
Nick
This book was eye opening to the problems surrounding race relations and the evangelical churches in the US. In this way the book was excellent and is a helpful tool...yet it was a downer, offering little or no solutions on how to solve the problem. My frame of mind reading this book was often like this: Oh I see that's really bad and these authors are suggesting that this is the problem, so we should do this...oh they say research suggests this doesn't work. First you have to do this before th ...more
Amanda Himes
An upsetting but honest look at the race problem, or rather, the problematic and ineffective solutions to the race problem in America that contemporary white evangelicals offer. Well-researched, worth pondering.
Aaron Ventura
Easily the most depressing book I've ever read.
Shawn


This was an interesting read. The authors discuss the complexity of racial tensions and how the church perpetuates racial tension within the United States. I find the authors writing from unspoken presumptions about the church and I find that their research or at least their conclusions from the research incomplete. They discuss complexity by focusing on simply one organization within the United States (namely the church). Nevertheless they have some valid points in the church has neglected som
...more
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quicky summation 1 6 Dec 10, 2008 03:13PM  
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