Informed Perspectives: White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America

Apr 6

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Zoom Webinar

The American political scene today is poisonously divided, and the vast majority of white evangelicals play a strikingly unified, powerful role in the disunion. These evangelicals raise a starkly consequential question for electoral politics: Why do they claim morality while supporting politicians who act immorally by most Christian measures? In her newest book White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America, Anthea Butler answers that racism is at the core of conservative evangelical activism and power.

Join a discussion inspired by this hard-hitting chronicle of American religion and politics. Featured panelists include the author, University of Virginia faculty, Larycia Hawkins, Assistant Professor of Politics and Religious Studies, and Charles Mathewes, Carolyn M. Barbour Professor of Religious Studies, with guest moderator Corey D. B. Walker, the Wake Forest Professor of the Humanities at Wake Forest University.




Anthea Butler

Anthea Butler is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. A historian of African American and American religion, Professor Butler’s research and writing spans African American religion and history, race, politics, and evangelicalism. You can find more information about her writing and media at antheabutler.com. Her new book White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America, was published in March 2021 by Ferris and Ferris, a division of UNC Press. Her other books include Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making A Sanctified World, published also by The University of North Carolina Press.

Professor Butler was awarded a Luce/ACLS Fellowship for the Religion, Journalism and International Affairs grant for 2018-2019 academic year to investigate Prosperity gospel and politics in the American and Nigerian context. She was also a Presidential fellow at Yale Divinity School for the 2019-2020 academic year. Professor Butler currently serves as President Elect of the American Society for Church history, and is also member of the American Academy of Religion, American Historical Association, and the International Communications Association.

A sought-after commentator on the BBC, MSNBC, CNN, The History Channel and PBS, Professor Butler regularly writes opinion pieces covering religion, race, politics and popular culture for The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, NBC, and The Guardian. You can see her on the recent PBS series The Black church in America, and the forthcoming American Experience on Billy Graham, set to air May 2021 on PBS.


Larycia Hawkins

Larycia Hawkins, PhD., is a scholar, a political science professor, and an activist. Professor Hawkins teaches and researches at the University of Virginia, where she is jointly appointed in the departments of Politics and Religious Studies. She also serves as a Faculty Fellow at the University’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, is a contributor to the Project on Lived Theology; and co-convenes the Henry Luce Foundation project, Religion and Its Publics.

In a December 10, 2015, Facebook post, Hawkins declared her intent to don a hijab in embodied solidarity with Muslim sisters throughout the Christian season of Advent. The post ignited an international firestorm that initiated conversations about the nature of God and the possibilities for multi-faith solidarity at a time when Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism, and hate crimes motivated by religious differences were, and continue to be, more prolific than at any time in recent history.

At the time of her activism, Hawkins was an Associate Professor of Political Science at Wheaton College (IL), a Christian university founded in 1860 by abolitionists. Hawkins was the first Black woman to be granted tenure in the history of the university. Within five days of her Facebook post, and after repeatedly affirming her commitment to the college’s Statement of Faith, Hawkins was placed on administrative leave. On February 6, 2016, almost two months following her act of embodied solidarity with Muslim women, she and Wheaton College agreed to part ways.

Her story is documented in A New York Times Magazine feature, “The Professor Wore a Hijab in Solidarity—Then Lost Her Job”, and in a recent Washington Post article, Hawkins was recognized as “one of 12 major religious newsmakers — and stories — from the past decade who stood out, in part or in full, because of their beliefs or religious traditions.” Dr. Hawkins’ story is featured in the award-winning film, Same God by Midgett Productions.


Charles Mathewes

Charles Mathewes is the Carolyn M. Barbour Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, specializing in Christian theology and religious ethics. He is the author of Evil and the Augustinian Tradition and A Theology of Public Life, both with Cambridge University Press; Understanding Religious Ethics from Wiley-Blackwell; and The Republic of Grace, from Eerdmans. Among other edited volumes, he is the Senior Editor for a four volume collection on Comparative Religious Ethics: The Major Works for Routledge Publishers. From 2006 to 2010, he was Editor of The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, the flagship journal in the field of religious studies, and was the youngest Editor ever appointed to lead that journal. He was Chair of the Committee on the Future of Christian Ethics for the Society of Christian Ethics, the inaugural Director of the Virginia Center for the Study of Religion, and he currently serves as the Co-Director of The Project on Religion and Its Publics, a multi-year initiative dedicated to bridging the gap between the academic study of religion and public conversations about religion, funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. He is currently finishing two books, one provisionally entitled The Future of Political Theology, the other provisionally entitled The Future of Christian Ethics.


Corey D. B. Walker

Corey D. B. Walker is the Wake Forest Professor of the Humanities at Wake Forest University. His research and teaching interests include Africana philosophy, critical theory, ethics, social and political philosophy, and religion and public life. His scholarship and public speaking attracts a broad audience and he provides informed commentary to a number of media outlets.

He is the author of A Noble Fight: African American Freemasonry and the Struggle for Democracy in America, co-editor with Melody C. Barnes and Thad Williamson, Community Wealth Building and the Reconstruction of American Democracy: Can We Make American Democracy Work, editor of the “Theology and Democratic Futures” special issue of the journal Political Theology, and associate editor of the award-winning SAGE Encyclopedia of Identity. He has published over sixty articles, essays, book chapters and reviews appearing in a wide range of scholarly journals and co-directed and co-produced the documentary film fifeville with acclaimed artist and filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson. He also served as book review editor and associate editor of The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, generally considered the top academic journal in the field.

He has held faculty and academic leadership positions at Brown University, University of Virginia, Virginia Union University, and Winston-Salem State University and visiting faculty appointments at Friedrich-Schiller Universität Jena, Union Presbyterian Seminary, and University of Richmond. He was also a non-resident fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.

Informed Perspectives brings together scholars, journalists, and documentarians to explore the relationship between religion, race, and politics.

Sponsored by the Luce/ACLS Program in Religion, Journalism & International Affairs.