White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity (Hardcover)
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Drawing on history, public opinion surveys, and personal experience, Robert P. Jones delivers a provocative examination of the unholy relationship between American Christianity and white supremacy, and issues an urgent call for white Christians to reckon with this legacy for the sake of themselves and the nation.
As the nation grapples with demographic changes and the legacy of racism in America, Christianity’s role as a cornerstone of white supremacy has been largely overlooked. But white Christians—from evangelicals in the South to mainline Protestants in the Midwest and Catholics in the Northeast—have not just been complacent or complicit; rather, as the dominant cultural power, they have constructed and sustained a project of protecting white supremacy and opposing black equality that has framed the entire American story.
With his family’s 1815 Bible in one hand and contemporary public opinion surveys by Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) in the other, Robert P. Jones delivers a groundbreaking analysis of the repressed history of the symbiotic relationship between Christianity and white supremacy. White Too Long demonstrates how deeply racist attitudes have become embedded in the DNA of white Christian identity over time and calls for an honest reckoning with a complicated, painful, and even shameful past. Jones challenges white Christians to acknowledge that public apologies are not enough—accepting responsibility for the past requires work toward repair in the present.
White Too Long is not an appeal to altruism. Drawing on lessons gleaned from case studies of communities beginning to face these challenges, Jones argues that contemporary white Christians must confront these unsettling truths because this is the only way to salvage the integrity of their faith and their own identities. More broadly, it is no exaggeration to say that not just the future of white Christianity but the outcome of the American experiment is at stake.
About the Author
Robert P. Jones is the CEO and founder of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) and a leading scholar and commentator on religion and politics. Jones writes a column on politics, culture, and religion for The Atlantic online. He is frequently featured in major national media, such as CNN, NPR, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and others. He holds a PhD in religion from Emory University and a MDiv from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of The End of White Christian America, which won the 2019 Grawemeyer Award in Religion.
"This book is a marvel. It manages to quietly excoriate the insidious, entrenched attitudes that continue to sow racial hatred and division and to show the large and small ways that they continue. Devoid of moralizing, this powerful, heavily researched and annotated book is a must-read for religious leaders and academics."
— Booklist (starred review)
"A concise yet comprehensive combination of deeply documented religious history, social science research about contemporary religion, and heartfelt memoir. . . . An indispensable study of Christianity in America."
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“White Too Long is a powerful and much needed book. It is a direct challenge to white Christians to finally put aside the idolatry of whiteness in order to release the country and themselves into a different possibility. With clarity of moral vision, historical nuance, and the sensitivity of an artist’s pen, Jones has written a critical book for these troubled times.”
— Eddie S. Glaude Jr., James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies, Princeton University; author of Begin Again: James Baldwin’s America and Its Urgent Lesson for Our Own
“In White Too Long, Robert Jones offers both searching personal testimony and a rigorous look at the facts to call white Christians to account for the scandalous ways white supremacists have regularly distorted and manipulated a faith dedicated to love and justice to rationalize racism. Jones is a rare and indispensable voice in our public conversation about religion because he combines painstaking data analysis with a sure moral sense. May this book encourage soul-searching, repentance, and conversion.”
— E. J. Dionne Jr., Columnist for The Washington Post; author of Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can Unite to Save Our Country
"Jones builds his case with evidence, drawing on an eclectic blend of history, theology, sociology and memoir. . . . It’s hard to argue with his conclusion that white supremacy is somehow genetically encoded into white Christianity in the United States. . . . Challenges people of faith to chart a new path forward."
— Jemar Tisby
“Robert P. Jones’s searing White Too Long brilliantly argues that his fellow white Christians must dissent from their received faith and embrace a theology of racial justice. White Too Long is a prophetic call of redemption for folk who have too often idolized whiteness and worshipped America instead of the God of Martin, Fannie Lou and Jesse.”
— Michael Eric Dyson, University Professor of Sociology, Georgetown University; author of Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America
“White Too Long is meticulously researched and compelling throughout. It’s also a damning moral indictment of the way white supremacy has infected the white church in the United States from its very beginnings—which lays bare the need, now more than ever, for white Christians to systematically repent of white supremacy.”
— Jim Wallis, Founder and President of Sojourners; author of Christ in Crisis? Why We Need to Reclaim Jesus
“With integrity and vulnerability, Jones exposes the subtle but profound compatibility between white supremacist ideology and white Christian theology. This remarkably courageous, must read book helps white Christians in America finally face the question Jones had to ask himself, ‘Can you be “white” and Christian?’”
— The Very Reverend Kelly Brown Douglas, Dean of Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary; Canon Theologian, Washington National Cathedral
"A refreshing blend of historical accounting, soul-searching reflection, and analysis of white supremacy within the American Christian identity. . . . Jones’s introspective, measured study is a revelatory unpacking of influence and history of white Christian nationalism."
— Publishers Weekly