OVERVIEW PUBLICATIONS EVENTS ASSOCIATED FACULTY & FELLOWS
The goal of the Race, Faith & Culture Project is to shed light on the interconnectedness of race and religion as it shapes our culture today. This project will provide a historical, theological, and cultural account of the relationship between religion, particularly Christianity, and race, and their greater significance in twenty-first century America. The project will begin with Christianity because it is the most dominant form of faith in the Western world, but it will include other religions, especially Islam, as a religion that has been racialized and politicized in modern America.
The relationship between Christianity and race is especially important given the staggeringly rapid growth of racial-ethnic Christians in the United States. The demographic transformation coming to America in 2040 will be fulfilled in American Christianity first. During the past decades, scholars have documented the shift of Global Christianity from Europe and North America to Africa, Latin America, and Asia. This shift is taking place within America as well. As a result, American Christianity could serve as a window into both the current and the imminent racial challenges of our times, and will offer glimpses into the ways in which America might resist, accommodate, or withdraw from its inevitable multiethnic future.
CURRENT PROJECT - Race and Faith in Communities and Churches (Funded by the Louisville Institute)
The numbers of multiethnic churches and communities have risen over the last 25 years largely as a response to the racial inequality dividing the nation. While recent studies have shed some light on these communities, sociologists Michael Emerson and his colleagues believe that we need new research on the ways that race, religion, and inequality intersect, particularly in multiethnic contexts.
This project seeks to understand the theological and cultural sources that multiethnic Christian communities draw from to shape their adherents' views of racial inequality. Through interviews, focus groups, and analysis of sermons and church materials we hope to make sense of the ways that congregations equip parishioners to challenge or reproduce racial inequality in America.
This project will focus on communities that have experienced racial conflict as the result of police shootings of unarmed Black men, such as Ferguson/St. Louis, MO; Baltimore, MD; New York City, NY; Chicago, IL; Minneapolis, MN; Dallas, TX; and Charleston, SC. As America is irreversibly on track to become a majority minority nation, multiethnic communities could provide a glimpse at this future and offer a hopeful path forward to live and thrive with our racial ethnic differences.
FUTURE PROJECT - Race and Faith in America
This project seeks to uncover and explain the intricacies of the ways that religious beliefs have shaped racial identities. Understanding the interconnections between race and religion is critical for making progress in the racial challenges facing America.
Our approach is historical, sociological, and theological. We will focus on the social and theological role of organized religion during pivotal moments in the history of American race relations, from the antebellum church that legitimized the enslavement of Africans to the abolitionist church; from the Black churches that led the Civil Rights Movement and the White Protestant, Orthodox, and Roman Catholic churches that supported or opposed them, to the state of the American church today. How have these institutions shaped, for better or for worse, American understandings of race, and what are the opportunities for these churches today?
The goal is to map out the theological sources of these churches as they have engaged the issue of race in the past and the theological sources the churches are drawing from today. This research will unravel the role of race and religion in the puzzles that continue to divide America, including identity politics, racial segregation, income inequality, and crime and punishment.
Constructively, we will propose a way forward as racial tensions have entered a new height in twenty-first-century America even as the face of the Church (and the country in general) is becoming increasingly diverse.
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