Theology of American protestantism and race relations
Russell, Jean DeBusk
It is generally acknowledged that Protestant churches in the United States have over the centuries played an almost negligible role in the struggle of the Negro toward legal and social acceptance in American life. Historians, sociologists, novelists, and religious writer have recorded the fact. In most instances the explanation given for this fact has been of an economic, political, or sociological nature. While each of these has its place and importance, it seems possible that there is an equally important question which has not been dealt with in detail or from a historical point of view. This is the question of whether the theology of Protestantism in the United States has been determinative to any extent of the life of Protestantism in the area of race relations. It is possible that one will discover that there has been no relationship between the theology of the American churches and their social ethics. It may be true that the role of theology has been to provide a rationalization of attitudes based on prejudice, economic conditions, and social factors. But such a theory is not self-validating. What seems more plausible is that one may discover in the theology of the churches at least a clue to their ethics - that on closer examination of the history of American Protestantism's attitudes on race relations some pattern may emerge.