The "Brown Church": Towards a Latina/o Christian Social Justice History and Identity

“… activism in Latin America and the United States, as a means of drawing Latina/o millennials back into fellowship in the church of North America? ”

Team Members/Contributors

Robert Chao Romero UCLA and Jesus 4 Revolutionaries Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

Thousands of Latina/o millenials lose their faith because they feel trapped in the “borderlands” of institutional Christianity and activism. In Christian circles, their concern for social justice is often misunderstood and squelched; within university and activist circles, their Christian faith is often disparaged as the “religion of the colonizers.” As a means of bridging this divide, the "Brown Church" (under contract with InterVarsity Press Academic) tells the little known history of Latina/o Christian social justice activism in the United States, and invites readers into a “Brown Christian” identity which encompasses their love for Jesus, their rich, God-given cultural heritage, and their passion for social justice. As the first overarching history of Latina/o Christian social justice movements in the United States, the "Brown Church" fills a critical void in the academic literatures of U.S. history, Chicana/o Studies, Latina/o Studies, Religious Studies, and theology.

From Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Bartolomé de Las Casas, to the iconic civil rights movement of César Chávez, to the Central American sanctuary movement of the 1980’s and the contemporary immigration reform movement, spiritual capital has been a central component of Latino community cultural wealth. It is my contention that these various Latina/o Christian social justice pioneers and movements over the past 500 years form what may be called the “Brown Church.” As a natural outgrowth of its prophetic advocacy efforts and praxis, moreover, the Brown Church has developed a unique and consistent body of theology based upon the Christian Scriptures which may be termed “Brown Theology.”

This project's goal is to create a practical tool for churches and campus ministries which can be used to draw Latina/o millenials back to faith in Christ, as well as to “catch” many more Latina/o students before they get trapped in the “Christian-activist” dilemma and lose their faith in secular activism.