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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

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  608 Ratings  ·  89 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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Oct 24, 2007 Daniel rated it it was amazing
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
david shin
Mar 09, 2007 david shin rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Sep 27, 2012 James Kim rated it really liked it
Shelves: race-issues, religion
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
Oct 06, 2016 Nathan rated it it was amazing
I honestly believe everyone in America should read this book, especially white America. I can't claim to know the solution now to solve racialization but this book has drastically open my eyes to the truth, depth and pains of racial injustice in our country and I think the last sentences of the books sum it up well..."Good intentions are not enough. But educated, sacrificial, realistic, efforts made in faith across racial line can help us together move toward a more just, equitable, and peaceful ...more
Mike E.
Jun 07, 2010 Mike E. rated it liked it
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
Jun 05, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it
Shelves: scholarship, history, race
A thought-provoking and convicting examination of why, despite a decades-long concerted effort on the part of evangelical Christians, race relations in America and among its curches remain in a state of de facto segregation. Emerson and Smith explore the sociological underpinnings of American evangelicalism and describe how the assumptions that make evangelicalism what it is also work against racial reconciliation, especially on a systemic level. Despite being more than 15 years old, it's impres ...more
Nicole Richardson
Jul 09, 2016 Nicole Richardson rated it it was amazing
I wanted to hate this book. Perhaps I even literally threw the book at the wall several times. But there's no denying how grateful I am to have let this book marinate my soul.
I never personally struggled with racism. So I walked through life thinking everyone is responsible for themselves and what they put in this world. And that's not false. But I discovered so much more. I discovered systemic racism. And it rocked me.
So before you speak out on race relations at all, I urge you to study about
Oct 23, 2007 Chris rated it it was amazing
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.
Jun 07, 2017 C. rated it it was amazing
I found this book on a list going around Twitter with the heading 'Books that helped my white friends get it'. In the aftermath of an election that I was struggling to make sense of, this felt like a good place to start. While the book is nearly twenty years old, I found myself going - 'oh multiple times throughout it.

I am at best an amateur sociologist, it felt well written and researched, and overall readable for the most part. The most complicated and abstract part was probably the chapter l
Jeff Elliott
I started this book with high hopes and the eye-opening statistics at the beginning painted a picture of vastly disparate worlds between white and black. However, by the end it seems that even the authors had lost hope of making any real, lasting change in the area of race relations in America. The last section of the book suggested that clergy are captive to the wishes of their congregations (and their desires are for homogeneous congregations, but the authors say that is normal) and people don ...more
Richie Valdes
Mar 11, 2017 Richie Valdes rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology, nonfiction
This book is like drinking from the firehose of truth. There's so much good stuff in it from D.C. tanner figures to analysis that it can make you forget what the last profound thing you read said. While academic in tone, I would recommend this for a starting point for anyone serious about learning bout racial reconciliation. It will give the foundation to recognize and communicate the fact of the racialization of society to build up on with other works out there about systemic injustice.
Jul 22, 2008 Pat rated it really liked it
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
Dec 31, 2016 Corey rated it really liked it
This book is written by two top notch sociologists, Emerson & Smith. It's a very academic book and built on their own research. It's central thesis is that we live in a "racialized society." White Evangelicals desire to move beyond our country's racist history, but we unintentionally undercut the equality that we desire. The book explains how that is while also demonstrating the massive racial inequalities that still exist the U.S.

Perhaps more than any other, this book both challenged me mo
Jul 07, 2016 Jon rated it it was amazing
I rarely write reviews for books. This might be my first one ever. But I feel compelled to urge all my white evangelical friends to read this book. It has changed the way I view race relations, racial reconciliation, and church history in the USA.

I won't go into all the content here, but this short book is filled with data and insights that help explain why our country is so divided along racial lines and why the church, despite its best intentions to be part of the solution, actually perpetuate
Dec 10, 2008 Nelson rated it it was amazing
….((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
This book, when it was published, confirmed what I knew in my gut.
The sad fact is that we, as a nation, are 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, and the protestant mainline church for a careful analysis of why racial reconc
Jan 05, 2008 Dave rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 29, 2012 Cayce rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 10, 2008 Devon rated it really liked it
Shelves: race, theology
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.
May 15, 2011 Nicolas rated it it was amazing
If you're a Christian and your white, AND you believe that racial reconciliation isn't relevant anymore. This book is for you.
Feb 17, 2010 Caroline rated it really liked it
Recommended to Caroline by: Jlnelso
Shelves: nonfiction, 2010
Be prepared for the academic writing style. Very interesting and enlightening. I'm so glad I read this book.
Michael Brown
Jan 22, 2014 Michael Brown rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very thought provoking read.... still digesting it..... well worth reading
Mar 05, 2017 Jon rated it really liked it
Shelves: social-science
Race is one of those issues that has long plagued America, and racism and racialization has infected nearly every institution and relationship in America. Thus, what Smith and Emerson seek to find is that nature of the divide in America.

They begin with a historical look at Christian America, particularly in the view of "Evangelicalism." That term carries significant cultural baggage, so the authors assign a meaning to it largely divorced from its present-day cultural meaning. (That allows them t
Samuel Kassing
May 31, 2017 Samuel Kassing rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A powerful must read. I've read portions of this book in the past but his is the first time I've read it cover to cover. A basic sociological look at black white religious landscape. This book is mainly a diagnosis of the problem. But it's a great place to start learning and will help you engage thoughtfully with your neighbors.
Daniel Mcgregor
This is a devastating indictment of Evangelical Christianity and its views on Race. Almost 20 years old this book still rings painfully true to the times we live in at present. It is a bitter pill to swallow. It is also a necessary one.
Shane Williamson
Jun 27, 2017 Shane Williamson rated it it was amazing
A must read. Insightful and convicting.
Alison L.Y.
Mar 24, 2017 Alison L.Y. rated it it was amazing
Shelves: race-in-america
An absolute must-read for American Christians.
Jul 07, 2013 Jessica rated it really liked it
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
Jan 07, 2010 Tope rated it it was amazing
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
Ron Willoughby
I wanted to give this a 3.5. There is so much value in this book. The scholarship is insightful and communicated w such clarity. There is about 175 pages of defining and detailing much of the problem and about 3 pages of telling us that they don't have any answers and only about 3 generic suggestions. I wasn't looking for a roadmap and I totally get that the deck is stacked, but come on fellas. Throw a brother a bone would you?
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quicky summation 1 7 Dec 10, 2008 03:13PM  
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“Evangelicals usually fail to challenge the system not just out of concern for evangelism, but also because they support the American system and enjoy its fruits. They share the Protestant work ethic, support laissez-faire economics, and sometimes fail to evaluate whether the social system is consistent with their Christianity.” 0 likes
“Evangelicals come from all ethnic and racial backgrounds, but nearly 90 percent of Americans who call themselves evangelicals are white.” 0 likes
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