BLACK PUBLIC RELIGION AND SOCIAL WELFARE POLICY: Influences of the State on the Churches from the New Deal Through Welfare Reform

“… for black religious activism. This investigation is crucial not only to scholarly, but to churchly understandings of state influences on religion. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Omar M. McRoberts University of Chicago Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

As a Sabbatical Grant Fellow of the Louisville Institute, I plan to complete a book about the religious consequences and uses of social welfare policy over several policy eras. Empirically focused on historically black religious denominations and social movements, the book challenges the notion, prevalent in both scholarly and public circles, that the government influences religious activity primarily through policies that aim directly to regulate religious expression. Policies regarding the distribution of resources and opportunities throughout society acquire religious valences as well, and historically have weighed on the political and social aspirations of religious institutions. While generations of scholarship have chronicled attempts by black religious movements to influence government, little is known about the degree of entanglement between those movements and existing social policies, and the consequences of this entanglement for patterns of black religious activism. Black Public Religion uncovers and explains the social policy-based mechanisms of state influence on the black churches in an historical sociology spanning the New Deal, War on Poverty/Great Society, and Welfare Reform eras, and multiple denominational and ecumenical movements.