Summary and book reviews of White Too Long by Robert Jones

White Too Long

The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity

by Robert P. Jones

White Too Long by Robert P. Jones X
White Too Long by Robert P. Jones
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  • First Published:
    Jul 2020, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 13, 2021, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Bintrim
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About this Book

Book Summary

Drawing on history, public opinion surveys, and personal experience, Robert P. Jones delivers a provocative examination of the unholy relationship between American Christianity and white supremacy, and issues an urgent call for white Christians to reckon with this legacy for the sake of themselves and the nation.

As the nation grapples with demographic changes and the legacy of racism in America, Christianity's role as a cornerstone of white supremacy has been largely overlooked. But white Christians—from evangelicals in the South to mainline Protestants in the Midwest and Catholics in the Northeast—have not just been complacent or complicit; rather, as the dominant cultural power, they have constructed and sustained a project of protecting white supremacy and opposing black equality that has framed the entire American story.

With his family's 1815 Bible in one hand and contemporary public opinion surveys by Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) in the other, Robert P. Jones delivers a groundbreaking analysis of the repressed history of the symbiotic relationship between Christianity and white supremacy. White Too Long demonstrates how deeply racist attitudes have become embedded in the DNA of white Christian identity over time and calls for an honest reckoning with a complicated, painful, and even shameful past. Jones challenges white Christians to acknowledge that public apologies are not enough—accepting responsibility for the past requires work toward repair in the present.

White Too Long is not an appeal to altruism. Drawing on lessons gleaned from case studies of communities beginning to face these challenges, Jones argues that contemporary white Christians must confront these unsettling truths because this is the only way to salvage the integrity of their faith and their own identities. More broadly, it is no exaggeration to say that not just the future of white Christianity but the outcome of the American experiment is at stake.

The publisher was unable to provide an excerpt of this book.


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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Drawing on archival research, public opinion survey data and his own memories of growing up in the Deep South, Jones, founder and CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), builds a convincing case that white Christianity has played a central role in sustaining racist attitudes and actions in America. According to Jones, despite the official proclamations of churches at the national, institutional level in favor of racial justice, the theology of American Christianity provides the foundation for white supremacist attitudes. He describes the "cultural tool kit" of American Christians, formed by primal beliefs in individual free will, interpersonal relationships and personal sin, that allows individual Christians to proclaim that they are not racist while they continue to support racist policies and practices...continued

Full Review Members Only (947 words).

(Reviewed by Lisa Bintrim).

Media Reviews

New York Times
Jones builds his case with evidence, drawing on an eclectic blend of history, theology, sociology and memoir. His use of autobiography works especially well. Before the cascade of data can turn his narrative into a detached analyst’s clinical dissection of the problem, Jones gets personal, writing about his family’s slave-owning ancestors or his own teenage years sporting the Confederate battle flag on his car’s license plate...In the end, White Too Long seems to present a stark choice: Hold onto white Christianity or hold onto Jesus. It cannot be both.

Publishers Weekly
Jones's introspective, measured study is a revelatory unpacking of influence and history of white Christian nationalism.

Library Journal
Jones provides hard figures and historical examples illustrating racial relations in the United States, and how people can work toward reconciliation. An ideal complement to Sarah Posner's Unholy.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
[A] concise yet comprehensive combination of deeply documented religious history, social science research about contemporary religion, and heartfelt memo...An indispensable study of Christianity in America.

Booklist (starred review)
This book is a marvel. It manages to quietly excoriate the insidious, entrenched attitudes that continue to sow racial hatred and division and to show the large and small ways that they continue. Devoid of moralizing, this powerful, heavily researched and annotated book is a must-read for religious leaders and academics.

Author Blurb Eddie S. Glaude Jr., James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies, Princeton University; author of Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lesson for Our Own
White Too Long is a powerful and much needed book. It is a direct challenge to white Christians to finally put aside the idolatry of whiteness in order to release the country and themselves into a different possibility. With clarity of moral vision, historical nuance, and the sensitivity of an artist's pen, Jones has written a critical book for these troubled times.

Author Blurb E. J. Dionne Jr., Columnist for the Washington Post; author of Code Red: How Progressives and Moderates Can Unite to Save Our Country
In White Too Long, Robert Jones offers both searching personal testimony and a rigorous look at the facts to call white Christians to account for the scandalous ways white supremacists have regularly distorted and manipulated a faith dedicated to love and justice to rationalize racism. Jones is a rare and indispensable voice in our public conversation about religion because he combines painstaking data analysis with a sure moral sense. May this book encourage soul-searching, repentance, and conversion.

Author Blurb Michael Eric Dyson, University Professor of Sociology, Georgetown University; author of Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America
Robert P. Jones's searing White Too Long brilliantly argues that his fellow white Christians must dissent from their received faith and embrace a theology of racial justice. White Too Long is a prophetic call of redemption for folk who have too often idolized whiteness and worshiped America instead of the God of Martin, Fannie Lou and Jesse.

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Beyond the Book

Reparations for Black Americans

2020 Juneteenth reparations rally In White Too Long, Robert P. Jones makes clear that his view of racial justice includes a "tangible economic accounting" of the ways in which churches have benefited from slavery and white supremacy, as well as restitution to the Black community. In doing so, Jones joins a large chorus of activists, politicians and others calling for reparations for the enslavement and continued oppression of Black Americans. That chorus has been larger and louder since reparations have become part of the Black Lives Matter movement platform and especially since the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.

Those in favor of reparations argue that Black Americans have suffered from racist policies and practices, from slavery through to today, that have ...

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