Blacks and Whites in Christian America

Blacks and Whites in Christian America

How Racial Discrimination Shapes Religious Convictions

Religion and Social Transformation

by Jason E. Shelton and Michael Oluf Emerson

Published by: NYU Press

290 pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in

  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 9780814722763
  • Published: October 2012


  • Hardcover
  • ISBN: 9780814722756
  • Published: October 2012



2012 Winner of the C. Calvin Smith Award presented by the Southern Conference on African American Studies, Inc.

2014 Honorable Mention for the Distinguished Book Award presented by the American Sociological Association's Sociology of Religion Section

Conventional wisdom holds that Christians, as members of a
“universal” religion, all believe more or less the same things
when it comes to their faith. Yet black and white Christians
differ in significant ways, from their frequency of praying or
attending services to whether they regularly read the Bible or
believe in Heaven or Hell.

In this engaging and accessible sociological study of white
and black Christian beliefs, Jason E. Shelton and Michael O.
Emerson push beyond establishing that there are racial differences
in belief and practice among members of American
Protestantism to explore why those differences exist. Drawing
on the most comprehensive and systematic empirical
analysis of African American religious actions and beliefs
to date, they delineate five building blocks of black Protestant
faith which have emerged from the particular dynamics
of American race relations. Shelton and Emerson find that
America’s history of racial oppression has had a deep and
fundamental effect on the religious beliefs and practices of
blacks and whites across America.