Discover more from White Too Long by Robert P. Jones
We Have to Come to Grips with History: My Interview with David Smith at The Guardian
PLUS: Reports from the road, including two events this week
Greetings from the Hidden Roots book tour!
Last weekend, I had the privilege of spending the day in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with Dr. Drew Hart and Dr. Brian Smith of Messiah University as part of their important “Thriving Together: Congregations for Racial Justice” project. And I was deeply honored that evening to be in conversation with Dr. Smith at Wesley Union AME Zion Church, a historic African American congregation that hosted Frederick Douglass and so many others in the Black freedom movement. I’m grateful for Rev. Dr. David Miller, pastor of Wesley Union, for hosting this gathering, which brought together a diverse group of 80 folks to have a more honest conversation about how white supremacy has been protected and justified by Christianity throughout American history. [Architectural note for my fellow white Christians: Yes, that is a Black Jesus in the stained glass window.]
Thank you again for all of you who purchased my new book either before or during its launch last week. If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, or if you’d like to order an additional copy for family of friends, click below.
Thanks also for all of the encouraging notes I have received from so many of you. Sometimes a book launch week can actually feel a bit lonely, but those notes helped me envision the book being out in the world and reminded me why I write.
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We Have to Come to Grips with History:
My Interview with David Smith at The Guardian
[Read the full interview at The Guardian]
How did Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election despite the Access Hollywood tape? How did he gain even more votes in 2020 despite an administration of chaos, lies and pandemic blunders? How can he be running neck and neck with Joe Biden for 2024 despite four indictments and 91 criminal charges?
Future historians will surely debate such questions and why so many Americans saw themselves in a tawdry tycoon and carnival barker. One of the most persuasive theories is captured in a single word: race….
In his books The End of White Christian America and White Too Long, Robert P Jones has steadily built the argument that this movement is animated by shifting demographics. He points out that in 2008, when Barack Obama, the first Black president, was elected, 54% of Americans identified as white and Christian. By the end of Obama’s second term, that share had fallen to 47%. Today it is 42%.
“It’s just a continued slide,” says Jones, 55, sitting at his desk at the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), where he is founder and president, in downtown Washington. “Most importantly, moving from majority to decisively non-majority white and Christian has set off a kind of ‘freak out’ moment among many white Christians.”
In The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy and the Path to a Shared American Future, effectively the third book in an unofficial trilogy, Jones traces the roots of Trumpism back more than 500 years.
He explains: “Go back and understand they really do believe that this country was divinely ordained to be a promised land for European Christians.
“That idea is so old and so deep it explains in many ways the visceral reactivity. Why are we fighting today about AP African American history? Arkansas’s banned it, Florida’s been fighting it, and it’s because it tells this alternative story about the country that’s not just settlers, pioneers – a naive mythology of innocence.”
Jones examines that mythological origin story and its promised land. He spotlights the “Doctrine of Discovery”, a little-known or understood series of 15th-century papal edicts asserting that European civilisation and western Christianity are superior to all other cultures, races and religions. For Jones, it is “a kind of Rosetta Stone for understanding the deep structure of the European political and religious worldviews we have inherited in this country”….
[Read the full interview at The Guardian]
You’re Invited: Two Events this Week
I’m doing two book-related events this week: a local event in Minneapolis and a virtual event sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania.
September 12: The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy—A Conversation with Robert P. Jones, Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs, Rev. Angela Denker, and Rev. G. Travis Norvell
If you’re in the Twin Cities area, please join me at Judson Memorial Baptist Church in Minneapolis on Tuesday, September 12th at 7PM. Books will be on sale at the event and no registration is necessary.
The evening will be a discussion between me, Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs (Co-Director of Racial Justice for the Minnesota Council of Churches), Rev. Angela Denker (author of Red State Christians) and Rev. G. Travis Norvell, pastor of Judson Memorial Baptist Church.
September 14: A Conversation with Anthea Butler about The Hidden Roots of White Supremacy
Join Anthea Butler and Robert P. Jones for a discussion of his new book, which locates the origin of America’s race problem in the the Christian Doctrine of Discovery, and how it has shaped the way America’s white, European Christian settlers saw themselves and their mission and justified outbursts of violence, dispossession of Indigenous people, and the enslavement of Africans.
Registration is free but required here.
Upcoming Events: Fall Book Tour (Updated)
I’ve created a standalone book tour page that is accessible from the #WhiteTooLong newsletter home page under “Upcoming Events.” You can bookmark that page to see updates as more events come online. In the short term, I’ll be in Mississippi all week next week at six events in three cities. Mississippi folks, I hope to see you there.