Reviewed by Paul Harvey
Liberation and Oppression, All Tangled Up
In the end, Noll concludes in some theologically based reflections, "reliance on the Bible" has produced "spectacular liberation alongside spectacular oppression." Thus, properly understood in all its complexity, "historic Christian faith," Noll suggests, offers the best standpoint "from which it is possible to see how much believers themselves have done to promote the evils of racism in American politics while at the same time recognizing how often they have offered hints of redemption as well."
God and Race in American Politics is more reliant on secondary literature (including, most notably, David Chappell's Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow) than some of Noll's other work; for that reason, scholars in the field may find much of this book a helpful summary of notions already well-woven into the literature. But thoughtful Christian readers will find this work indispensable in understanding the big picture of race, religion, and politics in American history.
Paul Harvey is professor of history at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and the author of Freedom's Coming: Religious Cultures and the Shaping of the South from the Civil War through the Civil Rights Era (Univ. of North Carolina Press).
Copyright © 2008 Books & Culture. Click for reprint information.