cover image The Religion of Whiteness: How Racism Distorts Christian Faith

The Religion of Whiteness: How Racism Distorts Christian Faith

Michael O. Emerson and Glenn E. Bracey II. Oxford Univ, $24.99 (216p) ISBN 978-0-19-774628-8

The past decades have seen white Christianity in the U.S. shift priorities from love and community to white supremacy for about two-thirds of its members, according to this contentious study from Emerson (Divided by Faith), the Chavanne Fellow in Religion and Public Policy at the Baker Institute for Public Policy, and Bracey, a sociology professor at Villanova University. Drawing on Émile Durkheim’s concept of totemistic cults (in which the object of worship is the tribe or clan itself), the authors depict a Christianity that effectively worships the white race and opposes all those who fail to ascribe to it, including Christians of color. The authors outline the religion’s social support network of churches, schools, and media outlets; categorize its adherents (a “White Veil” group denies “seeing whiteness” and defends their faith “through the power of denial,” while a “White Might” group expressly defends the “centrality of being white”); and take note of “the remnant” of white American Christians who subscribe to “actual” Christianity. Though some of their boldest assertions are difficult to support (whiteness is described as “a claim to colonize the world”), the authors persuasively depict a religious movement that seeks to defend its destructive principles at all costs. This is sure to spark debate. (Apr.)