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Religion and Politics in American Public Life – Tobin Miller Shearer

November 10, 2014 @ 2:10 pm - 4:00 pm

Tobin Miller Shearer, University of Montana, on:
“The White Church and the Murder of Black Men: A Critique of Christian Whiteness”

Black liberation and womanist theologians like James Cone and Delores Williams have critiqued the white church for its complicity in racism. Sociologists in the tradition of Christian Smith and Michael Emerson have argued that white evangelicals perpetuate white supremacy through individualized conceptions of racial reconciliation. In the wake of the murders of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, activists have critiqued white Christians for their relative silence and inactivity.

In this talk, Dr. Shearer explores the boundaries of white Christian identity. He will argue that the critical approaches described above have failed to fully evaluate the scope, history, and present practice of whiteness in the Christian community. Examples from church-based “fresh air” rural hosting programs and short-term mission initiatives will offer insight into the under-examined dynamics of crisis and kindness. The talk concludes with a series of considerations for academic exploration of racial identity in the white church and possible outcomes for Christian practitioners.

The Religion and Politics in American Public Life lecture series, co-coordinated for 2014-15 by Professors Courtney BenderJean CohenJosef Sorett, and John Torpey, is a series of public conversations that explore the often contentious role of religion in American political and public life.  Each session features a speaker presenting on a timely, topical intersection of religion with American politics and society, such as civil religion, public discourses of morality, and reproductive and sexual rights.

The series is jointly sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life; the PhD Program in Sociology at the Graduate Center, CUNY; the Department of Political Science at Columbia University; and the Department of Religion at Columbia University.

For a list of previous speakers and topics, see ircpl.org/americanpubliclife.  All talks in this series are free and open to the public.  Refreshments will be served.  Email info@ircpl.org with any questions.

shearer2Tobin Miller Shearer is the Director of the African-American Studies Program and an Associate Professor of History at the University of Montana, studying the history of race and religion in the United States.  His current research focuses on Fresh Air rural hosting programs in which white rural families hosted African-American and Latino children from urban environments and on the role of prayer during the civil rights movement.  He has also written extensively on issues of white privilege, religious identity, and nonviolence.  He is the author of Daily Demonstr
ators: The Civil Rights Movement in Mennonite Homes and Sanctuaries
. (Johns Hopkins Press, 2010), Set Free: A Journey Toward Solidarity Against Racism, co-authored with Iris de León-Hartshorn and Regina Shands Stoltzfus (Herald Press, 2001), and Enter the River: Healing Steps from White Privilege to Racial Reconciliation (Herald Press, 1994).


November 10, 2014
2:10 pm - 4:00 pm
Event Category:


Knox Hall, Room 207
606 West 122nd St.
New York, NY 10027 United States
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