From Racial Reconciliation to Racial Justice in Christian Evangelicalism

Book Pages: 400 Illustrations: Published: December 2019

Author: Andrea Smith

Activism, Critical Ethnic Studies, Religious Studies

In the 1990s, many evangelical Christian organizations and church leaders began to acknowledge their long history of racism and launched efforts at becoming more inclusive of people of color. While much of this racial reconciliation movement has not directly confronted systemic racism's structural causes, there exists a smaller countermovement within evangelicalism, primarily led by women of color who are actively engaged in antiracism and social justice struggles. In Unreconciled Andrea Smith examines these movements through a critical ethnic studies lens, evaluating the varying degrees to which evangelical communities that were founded on white supremacy have addressed racism. Drawing on evangelical publications, sermons, and organization statements, as well as ethnographic fieldwork and participation in evangelical events, Smith shows how evangelicalism is largely unable to effectively challenge white supremacy due to its reliance upon discourses of whiteness. At the same time, the work of progressive evangelical women of color not only demonstrates that evangelical Christianity can be an unexpected place in which to find theoretical critique and social justice organizing but also shows how critical ethnic studies' interventions can be applied broadly across political and religious divides outside the academy.


“For women of color, in particular, who have been laboring to disrupt the racially and sexually oppressive policies and practices of evangelical organizations, Andrea Smith communicates ‘I see you.’ The way that she does this gives credence to the Sisyphean burden undertaken by women of color who are employing progressive intersectional frameworks in evangelical spaces. Smith manages to impart a sense of hope, demonstrating how the very presence of people of color within evangelical spaces can serve to destabilize white heterosexist patriarchal power.” — Chanequa Walker-Barnes, author of I Bring the Voices of My People: A Womanist Vision for Racial Reconciliation

“Offering the first cultural history of the evangelical racial justice movement that is subversively and gradually changing the face of politics in the United States, Andrea Smith argues that whiteness is the heart of the problem of American evangelicalism. Upon reading Unreconciled, scholars of religion and politics will need to rethink what they mean by evangelicals, racial reconciliation, and progressive politics. This brilliant book is a must-read for all thoughtful Americans.” — Peter Goodwin Heltzel, author of Jesus and Justice: Evangelicals, Race, and American Politics


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Andrea Smith is Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Riverside, author of Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide and Native Americans and the Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely Alliances, and coeditor of Theorizing Native Studies, all also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Abbreviations  ix
Introduction  1
From Chit'lins to Caviar: Evangelical Multiculturalism  30
"We Don't Have a Skin Problem, We Have a Sin Problem:" Racial Reconciliation and the Permanency of Racism  53
Multiple Logics of White Supremacy  90
The Biopolitics of Christian Persecution  116
The Racialization of Religion: Islamophobia and Christian Zionism  142
Decolonozation in Unexpected Places  192
No Permanent Friends and Enemies  211
Women of Color Evangelical Theologies  250
Conclusion: Between Black Lives Matter and Donald Trump  269
Notes  287
A  Note in Sources  305
Bibliography  307
Index  377
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0640-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0536-0