Religious institutions are among the most segregated organizations in American society. This segregation has long been a troubling issue among scholars and religious leaders alike.
Despite attempts to address this racial divide, integrated churches are very difficult to maintain over time. Why is this so? How can organizations incorporate separate racial, ethnic, and cultural groups? Should they? And what are the costs and rewards for people and groups in such organizations?
Following up on Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith's award-winning Divided by Faith, Against All Odds breaks new ground by exploring the beliefs, practices, and structures which allow integrated religious organizations to survive and thrive despite their difficulties. Based on six in-depth ethnographies of churches and other Christian organizations, this engaging work draws on numerous interviews, so that readers can hear first-hand the joys and frustrations which arise from actually experiencing racial integration. The book gives an inside, visceral sense of what it is like to be part of a multiracial religious organization as well as a theoretical understanding of these experiences.
“Draws on six case studies to propose a nuanced theory of the dynamics associated with the success or failure of multicultural congregations. This book honestly confronts the issues related to taking part in or pastoring an integrated congregation.”
-Donald E. Miller,Executive Director, Center for Religion and Civic Culture, University of Southern California
“Breaks new ground by offering us a much better understanding of the operation of both religious congregations and race relations in the U.S. The research is impressive, the analysis smart, and the insights and implications important. This is a unique and significant book.”
-Christian Smith,University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“Against All Odds whets our appetite for a larger research study using hundreds of churches. It is a welcoming beginning.”