A New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestseller!
An acclaimed, timely narrative of how people of faith have historically--up to the present day--worked against racial justice. And a call for urgent action by all Christians today in response.
The Color of Compromise is both enlightening and compelling, telling a history we either ignore or just don't know. Equal parts painful and inspirational, it details how the American church has helped create and maintain racist ideas and practices. You will be guided in thinking through concrete solutions for improved race relations and a racially inclusive church.
The Color of Compromise:
- Takes you on a historical, sociological, and religious journey: from America's early colonial days through slavery and the Civil War
- Covers the tragedy of Jim Crow laws, the victories of the Civil Rights era, and the strides of today's Black Lives Matter movement
- Reveals the cultural and institutional tables we have to flip in order to bring about meaningful integration
- Charts a path forward to replace established patterns and systems of complicity with bold, courageous, immediate action
- Is a perfect book for pastors and other faith leaders, students, non-students, book clubs, small group studies, history lovers, and all lifelong learners
The Color of Compromise is not a call to shame or a platform to blame white evangelical Christians. It is a call from a place of love and desire to fight for a more racially unified church that no longer compromises what the Bible teaches about human dignity and equality. A call that challenges black and white Christians alike to standup now and begin implementing the concrete ways Tisby outlines, all for a more equitable and inclusive environment among God's people. Starting today.
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About the Author
Jemar Tisby (BA, University of Notre Dame; MDiv, Reformed Theological Seminary) is CEO of The Witness, Inc., an organization dedicated to Black uplift. He is also cohost of the Pass the Mic podcast and the author of the New York Times bestseller The Color of Compromise. He has spoken nationwide at conferences, and his writing has been featured by the Washington Post, CNN, and The Atlantic. Jemar is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Mississippi studying race, religion, and social movements in the twentieth century.
Table of Contents
The Color of Compromise uses history to present a jarring picture of how the American church has helped create and maintain racist ideas and practices. In doing so, readers begin to realize just how far back and deep the problem of race and the church goes. But the book doesn’t just look backwards; it looks forward to a future of improved race relations and a more racially inclusive church. But because Christians have worked so hard in the past to divide and separate based on race, believers today will have to work even harder to foster equity and unity. The introduction explains the book’s premise by unpacking its title and its relation to King’s “I Have a Dream” speech where he uses the phrase “the fierce urgency of now.”
Chapter 1- Making Race: The Colonial Era
In the early years of the European colonization of North America, the racial caste system had not yet been rigidly defined. Indigenous people, Europeans, and Africans ranged from free, to indentured servants, to slaves for life. During this period, white Christians grappled with questions of evangelism. If a person of color converted to the faith did he or she become an equal? Should slaves who were now Christians be granted freedom? This chapter explores how Christians in America began to excuse racialized slavery and even participated in its formation during the seventeenth century.
Chapter 2- Christian Slave Owners: Antebellum Era
Over time, slavery became increasingly common and regulated in North America. Christians became slave owners and often failed to see the contradiction between their faith and owning people as property. Growing denominations (like Baptists) punted the question of slavery to the civil authorities and nationally known Christian leaders (like Jonathan Edwards) held slaves without apparent contradiction. This chapter details how racism became staples of American Christianity as slavery became an American institution during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
Chapter 3- With God on Our Side: The Civil War Era
By the mid-eighteenth century, the nation faced a sectional conflict about the perpetuation of slavery that would end in a bloody war. The Civil War pitted North against South and those who wanted a country that maintained slavery against those who, for various motives, did not. Both Union and Confederate forces thought God was on their side. This chapter explains how Christians in the Confederacy sanctified slavery and tried to make racism sound righteous.
Chapter 4- Taking Back the South: The Lost Cause, Redemption and Jim Crow
After losing the Civil War, white southerners had to find ways to explain their defeat. They couched their plight in theological terms that made their side seem like tragic victims. Although their cause had been just, they had to suffer through the “Lost Cause.” But Christians who wanted a return to white racial dominance dubbed their crusade “Redemption” as they attempted to return to what they lost. They recast slavery in the form of Jim Crow and used the Bible to defend the inferiority and segregation of black people. This chapter shows how Christians processed the Civil War and adapted their beliefs of racial superiority in the years from 1865 to 1945.
Chapter 5- On the Wrong Side of the Fight for Equality: The Civil Rights Era
By the middle of the twentieth century, African Americans and their allies became increasingly public with their protests of Jim Crow inequality and brutality. They began boycotting, marching, and rallying for their basic civil rights. Instead of siding with African Americans, however, conservative white Christians resisted their efforts. Both silence and outspoken opposition to these protests characterized Christians in this period. They vigorously obstructed integration and often populated racist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and the Citizens’ Council. This chapter details the tumultuous Civil Rights era from its rumblings in the 1940