White Church at the Crossroads

““Images of families separated at the southern border and the cries of young children sleeping on concrete floors raise sharp-edged moral and theological questions about the future of the white church in the United States of America.” ”

Team Members/Contributors

Jennifer Harvey Drake University Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

Entanglement with white supremacy has always challenged the vitality of Christianity in North America. But the pervasive and persistent creep of white nationalism into the U.S. political landscape presents an unprecedented challenge. Indeed, the assumption of my research—the accuracy of which the project will make a case for—is that predominantly and historically white Christian churches in U.S. are at a crossroads. In the context of this assumption, my core question is this: What does it mean to seriously locate a majoritarian vote among white Christians for the now 45th president, amid the growing visibility of white nationalist rhetoric and organizing that preceded, attended and has persisted since the election, in terms of reckoning with the future of the white church? This question is both theological and institutional.

This project is diagnostic. It explores the theological and institutional scaffolding that enabled the cohesion between racialized nationalist discourse and white Christian political behavior. It is cartographical. It maps the fractures this cohesion continues to generate as white clergy and laity contend with the implications of this cohesion. It is constructive. It crafts an invitation designed to ignite the church’s collective theo-moral imagination, in part by making visible existing and emerging strategies from within prophetic evangelicalism, mainline Protestantism, and a variety of church contexts in which committed anti-racist transformation is being faithfully pursued.

This research is urgent. It aims to practically enable the white church to mobilize institutionally and to harness our proclaimed theological center for and toward participation in a public recalibration--one that moves us back in the direction of a democratic, pluralist, justice-seeking political environment in which the flourishing of all is a baseline value around which we, in our diversities, imperfectly orbit.