cover image The Arrogance of Faith: Christianity and Race in America

The Arrogance of Faith: Christianity and Race in America

Forrest G. Wood. Knopf Publishing Group, $29.95 (517pp) ISBN 978-0-394-57993-1

Slaveholders like U.S. President Andrew Jackson used the Bible as justification for the master-slave relationship. Christianity, contends Wood in this extensive, hard-hitting critique, played a fundamental role in shaping the white racism undergirding black slavery and made possible the near-extermination of the American Indian. Beginning with Puritan colonists preaching their superiority over Indians, down to race-motivated sectional divisions in the three mainline Protestant churches (Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist), this challenging historical study by the author of Black Scare: The Racist Response to Emancipation and Reconstruction confronts a neglected aspect of the Christian experience in America. Wood explains how Christians' attempts to convert ``heathens'' or ``infidels'' attacked the foundations of non-Christian cultures. Plantation songs, Quakers, white phobia toward black sexuality, and Social Gospel, a 19th-century liberal Protestant reform movement, also come under scrutiny. (May)