Tag Archives: Race

Harlow, “Religion, Race, and the Making of Confederate Kentucky, 1830-1880″

Next month, Cambridge University Press will publish Religion, Race, and the Making of Confederate Kentucky, 1830-1880 by Luke Harlow (University of Tennessee, Knoxville). The publisher’s description follows.Religion, Race, and the Making of Confederate Kentucky, 1830–1880

This book sheds new light on the role of religion in the nineteenth-century slavery debates. In it, Luke E. Harlow argues that ongoing conflict over the meaning of Christian ‘orthodoxy’ constrained the political and cultural horizons available for defenders and opponents of American slavery. The central locus of these debates was Kentucky, a border slave state with a long-standing antislavery presence. Although white Kentuckians famously cast themselves as moderates in the period and remained with the Union during the Civil War, their religious values showed no moderation on the slavery question. When the war ultimately brought emancipation, white Kentuckians found themselves in lockstep with the rest of the Confederate South. Racist religion thus paved the way for the making of Kentucky’s Confederate memory of the war, as well as a deeply entrenched white Democratic Party in the state.

“Christians and the Color Line: Race and Religion after ‘Divided by Faith’” (Hawkins & Sinitiere, eds.)

Next month, Oxford will publish Christians and the Color Line: Race and 9780199329502_140Religion after Divided by Faith, edited by J. Russell Hawkins (Indiana Wesleyan University) and Phillip Luke Sinitiere (College of Biblical Studies, Texas). The publisher’s description follows.

Christians and the Color Line analyzes the complex entanglement of race and religion in the United States. Drawing on historical and contemporary examples of racialized religion, the essays in this volume consider the problem of race both in Christian congregations and in American society as a whole.

Belying the notion that a post-racial America has arrived, congregations in the US are showing an unprecedented degree of interest in overcoming the deep racial divisions that exist within American Protestantism. In one recent poll, for instance, nearly 70 percent of church leaders expressed a strong desire for their congregations to become racially and culturally diverse. To date, reality has eluded this professed desire as fewer than 10 percent of American Protestant churches have actually achieved multiracial status.

Employing innovative research from sociology, history, philosophy, and religious studies, the contributors to this volume use Michael Emerson and Christian Smith’s groundbreaking study Divided by Faith (Oxford, 2000) as their starting point to acknowledge important historical, sociological, and theological causations for racial divisions in Christian communities. Collectively, however, these scholars also offer constructive steps that Christians of all races might take to overcome the color line and usher in a new era of cross-racial engagement.

Turkey Admits Having Secret Identity Codes for Religious Minorities

This story will strike many readers as odd, but it is nonetheless true. For decades, religious minorities in Turkey, especially Christians, have complained that the state assigns them secret identity codes. Christians maintain that government officials use the codes to discriminate against them when it comes to jobs, licenses, building permits, and so on. Of course, such discrimination would be illegal under Turkish law, which has banned religious discrimination since the Kemalist revolution. And complaints about secret identity codes surely must seem a bit paranoid to outsiders, a kind of conspiracy theory–though, given the genocide of Armenians and other Christians in Turkey 100 years ago, one could forgive Christians for being anxious.

Armenian Church in Istanbul

The rumors turn out to be true, however. This month, for the first time, Turkey’s interior ministry acknowledged that the secret identity codes do, in fact, exist. When an Istanbul family tried to register its child at a local Armenian school recently, officials asked the family to prove it had the so-called “2″ code. The family had never been notified of any code and inquired what the officials meant. The education ministry passed the buck to the interior ministry, which eventually acknowledged that it indeed categorizes religious minorities by secret numeric codes: “1″ for Greek Orthodox Christians, “2″ for Armenian Apostolic Christians, “3″ for Jews, and so on. The family’s lawyer states that his clients are now “waiting for an official document saying, ‘Yes, your race code is ‘2,’ you can register in an Armenian school.’”

In acknowledging the secret classification system, the interior ministry said the information about religious identity comes from Ottoman records, which the ministry uses in order to help religious minorities exercise their rights under the Lausanne Treaty of 1923. With respect to education, for example, the ministry supplies the codes to school officials so that Armenians can attend Armenian schools. The government no longer collects information about religious or racial identity, the ministry claims.

Minority communities in Turkey are skeptical. If this was all on the up-and-up, why deny for so long that such codes exist? And why hide their existence from the so-called beneficiaries? After all, if the codes are meant to help minorities, you’d want to let the minorities know about them, not wait for local officials to reveal them by accident. And, given twentieth-century history, can anyone blame Christians in Turkey for thinking the codes are used to discriminate against them? The main opposition Republican People’s Party has threatened to make the issue of the secret codes a problem for the ruling AKP. “If this is true,” an opposition leader said, “it is fatal. It must be examined.” We’ll see.

Jivraj, “The Religion of Law”

ShowJacketNext month, Palgrave Macmillan will publish The Religion of Law: Race, Citizenship and Children’s Belonging by Suhraiya Jivraj (Kent Law School, University of Kent). The publisher’s description follows.

A timely and original examination into the ways in which religion is conceptualized in two areas of law relating to children – child welfare cases and education law and policy. The book focuses on the relationship between race, religion and culture, bringing critical race and religion perspectives from other disciplines to bear on law.

Mikulich, Cassidy, and Pfeil, “The Scandal of White Complicity in US Hyper-incarceration: A Nonviolent Spirituality of White Resistance”

This February, Macmillan Publishing will publish The Scandal of White Complicity in US Hyper-incarceration: A Nonviolent Spirituality of White Resistance by Alex Mikulich (Loyola University New Orleans), Laurie Cassidy (Marywood University), and Margaret Pfeil (University of Notre Dame). The publisher’s description follows.

The Scandal of White Complicity and U.S. Hyper-incarceration is a groundbreaking exploration of the moral role of white people in the disproportionate incarceration of African-Americans and Latinos in the United States. Alex Mikulich, Laurie Cassidy, and Margaret Pfeil are white Catholic theologians developing understanding of how whiteness operates in the U.S. system of incarceration and witnessing to a Christian nonviolent way for whites to subvert our oppression of brothers and sisters of color.

Botham, “Almighty God Created the Races: Christianity, Interracial Marriage, and American Law”

This February, the University of North Carolina Press will publish a paperback edition of Almighty God Created the Races: Christianity, Interracial Marriage, and American Law by Fay Botham (visiting assistant professor at Hobart and William and Smith Colleges). The publisher’s description follows.

 In this fascinating cultural history of interracial marriage and its legal regulation in the United States, Fay Botham argues that religion–specifically, Protestant and Catholic beliefs about marriage and race–had a significant effect on legal decisions concerning miscegenation and marriage in the century following the Civil War. She contends that the white southern Protestant notion that God “dispersed” the races and the American Catholic emphasis on human unity and common origins point to ways that religion influenced the course of litigation and illuminate the religious bases for Christian racist and antiracist movements.

Lloyd, “Race and Political Theology”

From Stanford University Press, a new collection of essays, Race and Political Theology, on how the experiences of Jews and African-Americans inform discussions about religion and politics. Vincent W. Lloyd (Syracuse) is the editor. The publisher’s description follows.

In this volume, senior scholars come together to explore how Jewish and African American experiences can make us think differently about the nexus of religion and politics, or political theology. Some wrestle with historical figures, such as William Shakespeare, W. E. B. Du Bois, Nazi journalist Wilhelm Stapel, and Austrian historian Otto Brunner. Others ponder what political theology can contribute to contemporary politics, particularly relating to Israel’s complicated religious/racial/national identity and to the religious currents in African American politics. Race and Political Theology opens novel avenues for research in intellectual history, religious studies, political theory, and cultural studies, showing how timely questions about religion and politics must be reframed when race is taken into account.

Justice John Marshall Harlan on Education and Religion

In my constitutional law class, we are studying a very interesting case, Berea College v. Kentucky (1908).  The case involved a private religious college which wished to teach white and African American students together; this was criminalized at the time by the state of Kentucky, which had enacted a statute forbidding any educational institution from integrated teaching.  The statute was upheld on a narrow ground by the Court, and Justice John Marshall Harlan (the first), himself a Kentuckian, dissented (as, of course, he often and famously did).

I reproduce below an interesting and, in my view, constitutionally provocative law-and-religion passage from Harlan’s dissenting opinion:

The capacity to impart instruction to others is given by the Almighty for beneficent purposes; and its use may not be forbidden or interfered with by government, — certainly not, unless such instruction is, in its nature, harmful to the public morals or imperils the public safety . . . . If the common-wealth of Kentucky can make it a crime to teach white and colored children together at the same time, in a private institution of learning, it is difficult to perceive why it may not forbid the assembling of white and colored children in the same Sabbath school, for the purpose of being instructed in the Word of God, although such teaching may be done under the authority of parents of the children.  So, if the state court be right, white and colored children may even be forbidden to sit together in a house of worship or at a communion table in the same Christian church.  In the cases supposed there would be the same association of white and colored persons as would occur when pupils of the two races sit together in a private institution of learning for the purpose of receiving instruction in purely secular matters.  Will it be said that the cases supposed and the case here in hand are different, in that no government, in this country, can lay unholy hands on the religious faith of the people?  The answer to this suggestion is that, in the eye of the law, the right to enjoy one’s religious belief, unmolested by any human power, is no more sacred nor more fully or distinctly recognized than is the right to impart and receive instruction not harmful to the public.  The denial of either right would be an infringement of the liberty inherent in the freedom secured by the fundamental law.

Martin Luther King on Just and Unjust Laws

Today is Martin Luther King Day in the United States. In commemoration, here’s a passage from Dr. King’s famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail, which he wrote in 1963 to answer clergy who had criticized his willingness to break laws as part of his anti-segregation campaign:

You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an “I it” relationship for an “I thou” relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man’s tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Let us consider a more concrete example of just and unjust laws. An unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a Continue reading

Bartrum on the Ministerial Exception

Ian Batrum has posted Religion and Race: The Ministerial Exception Reexamined. The abstract follows. — MLM

This essay is a contribution to the Northwestern University Law Review’s colloquy on the ministerial exception, convened following the Supreme Court’s decision to hear arguments in Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC.  I take the opportunity to consider the (sometimes) competing constitutional values of racial equality and religious freedom. I offer historical, ethical, and doctrinal arguments for the position that race must trump religion as a constitutional value when the two come into conflict. With this in mind, I suggest that the ministerial exception should not shield religious employers from anti discrimination suits brought on the basis of race.