How race influences religious engagement in politics

Table of contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
Introduction: Race, Sermons, and Politics
Chapter 1: Race and Sociopolitical Expectations of Religion
Chapter 2: Race and Political Sermons
Chapter 3: Race, Political Sermons, and Opinions on Public Policy
Chapter 4: Race, Sermons, and Activism
Conclusion: Religion and Politics-Hopefulness and Challenges


This book examines the intersection of race, political sermons, and social justice. Religious leaders and congregants who discuss and encourage others to do social justice embrace a form of civil religion that falls close to the covenantal wing of American civil religious thought. Clergy and members who share this theological outlook frame the nation as being exceptional in God’s sight. They also emphasize that the nation’s special relationship with the Creator is contingent on the nation working toward providing opportunities for socioeconomic well-being, freedom, and creative pursuits. God’s covenant, thus, requires inclusion of people who may have different life experiences but who, nonetheless, are equally valued by God and worthy of dignity. Adherents to such a civil religious worldview would believe it right to care for and be in solidarity with the poor and powerless, even if they are undocumented immigrants, people living in non-democratic and non-capitalist nations, or members of racial or cultural out-groups. Relying on 44 national and regional surveys conducted between 1941 and 2019, Race and the Power of Sermons on American Politics explores how racial experiences impact the degree to which religion informs social justice attitudes and political behavior. This is the most comprehensive set of analyses of publicly available survey data on this topic.

R. Khari Brown is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Wayne State University.
Ronald E. Brown is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Wayne State University.
James S. Jackson was Daniel Katz Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan.

“American politics and American religion are each divided by race. This book demonstrates how race also drives how political churches shape public opinion. While the data is often disheartening, there is also evidence for hope. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the intersection of race, religion, and politics.”
—J. Tobin Grant, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

- J. Tobin Grant

Race and the Power of Sermons on American Politics is a welcome and wide-ranging examination of the dynamics of race and politics from America’s pulpits.”
—Gerardo Martí, Professor of Sociology at Davidson College and author of American Blindspot: Race, Class, Religion, and the Trump Presidency

- Gerardo Marti

“…others have analyzed the political attitudes and behavior of clergy, but this is the first book to analyze what congregants report hearing from their clergy and how the messages given may shape the political attitudes and behavior of their congregants.”
—Corwin E. Smidt, Calvin University

- Corwin E. Smidt, Calvin University

Race and the Power of Sermons on American Politics provides an important contribution to our understanding of the political and social consequences of our highly segregated religious practices. By demonstrating the differences in messages between Black and White congregations and the political ramifications of these differences, this book forces us to reconcile an unjustifiable religious chasm in America.”
—Eric L. McDaniel, University of Texas at Austin

- Eric L. McDaniel, University of Texas at Austin

"Given the considerable evidence they present that attending political congregations has a positive association with individuals’ support of progressive policies and political activism, the stakes of clergy engagement with political issues are high. With this foundation, Brown et al. lay the groundwork for important questions for both researchers and religious leaders alike."
Review of Religious Research

- Review of Religious Research

"...the synthesis of these rich historical examples and a treasure trove of insights derived from almost eight decades of studies on the topic make this book an ideal one-stop text for pastors and parachurch ministry leaders, not to mention faith-based community organizers and other social justice practitioners who can benefit from the nuanced understanding of how race, religion, and politics intersect and insights into some of the challenges inherent in tackling social justice from the American pulpit."
Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review

- Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review

Read: Article in The Conversation | 11/18/2021