Professor Ron Brown on Race and the Power of Sermons on American Politics

Ron BrownProfessor Ron Brown's superlative research record now has a new addition. He has published a path-breaking book – "Race and the Power of Sermons on American Politics" (University of Michigan Press, 2021), co-authored with R. Khari Brown and James S. Jackson – exploring the influence of civic-religious discourse on the likelihood of support for civil liberties, civil rights and limits on repressive government policies targeting marginal populations.

A consistent finding from the National Politics Study is that while Blacks are more likely than Whites and Hispanics to hear political sermons, exposure to civic-religious rhetoric among Whites is associated with stronger support for liberal immigration policies, affirmative action and opposition to racial profiling.

The framework for Dr. Brown's book is an examination of the confluence of race, political sermons and social justice. Relying on 44 national and regional surveys conducted between 1941 and 2019, "Race and the Power of Sermons on American Politics" analyzes over time how racial experiences impact the degree to which religion informs social justice attitudes and political behavior and identifies temporal changes in these views.

To date, it is the most comprehensive set of analyses of publicly available survey data on this topic and constitutes a remarkable scholarly achievement.

Early reviews of the work have noted its exceptional importance. For example: J. Tobin Grant, Southern Illinois University Carbondale: "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."

Corwin E. Smidt, Calvin University: "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."

Eric L. McDaniel, University of Texas at Austin: ""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."

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