cover image America’s Unholy Ghosts: The Racist Roots of Our Faith and Politics

America’s Unholy Ghosts: The Racist Roots of Our Faith and Politics

Joel Edward Goza. Cascade, $28 trade paper (222p) ISBN 978-1-5326-5143-4

In his sharp debut, Goza, former pastor at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Houston, Tex., writes with passion about the racist and classist roots of America’s political and religious institutions. Grounding his work in the philosophies of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Adam Smith, Goza convincingly argues that America’s Founding Fathers deliberately designed a racist and inequitable society. In his estimation, America’s founders, basing their thinking on the ideas of Locke, structured government around protecting property rights rather than promoting the common good. Goza goes on to illustrate how the founders also, influenced by Hobbess, concluded that equality did not rest in economic equity. And, finally, Smith (unintentionally) created a potent image for justifying inequality with his idea of an economic “invisible hand” that would eventually balance out wealth. With this new economic paradigm, Goza asserts, justice became an exercise in punishing those who challenged the status quo, rather than a system for ensuring a more just society. Goza also argues that Christianity, around the time of the Renaissance, began rooting itself in individual salvation, which created a break from its historic pursuit of the common good. Within these frameworks, Goza concludes, it became possible to justify ignoring racism and economic inequity. Goza’s ability to sharply discern and clearly explain ideas underlying American thinking will open important conversations about the nature of equality. (Mar.)