Spotlight on White Evangelical Racism

 April 14, 2022

In this episode of the Spotlight on Culture, Society and Religion series, Dr. Anthea Butler of the University of Pennsylvania talks about her recent book, White Evangelical Racism. According to Dr. Butler, once we understand how racism has been at the core of conservative evangelical activism, we can better understand why white evangelicals have laid claim to morality while supporting politicians who act immorally by most Christian standards.

About the Expert

Dr. Anthea Butler is Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Butler’s research and writing spans African African American religion and history, race, politics, evangelicalism, gender and sexuality, media, and popular culture. You can find more of her writing and public engagement at

Start a Conversation

  1. Before watching the video, when you heard the words “evangelical” and “evangelicalism,” what words, images, or ideas came to mind? 
  2. What is something in the video that surprised you? Why was it surprising?
  3. When the evangelical leader Billy Graham was asked to comment on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963, he responded, “Only when Christ comes again will little white children of Alabama walk hand in hand with little black children.” What do you think Graham meant by this response? What was he trying to persuade people to think or do? How might Butler see racism at work in these words? 
  4. According to the Black evangelist Tom Skinner, “The evangelical church in America supported the status quo. It supported slavery. It supported segregation.” Why do you think so many white evangelicals supported slavery, segregation and other forms of racism? Are there any social values or theological beliefs common among white evangelicals that may have fueled the rise of white evangelical racism? Which social values or theological beliefs did Butler mention or allude to in the video?

Additional Resources

Chrissy Stroop, “I’m Not Here to Fix Evangelicals, but to Show Them Who They Are: An Interview with the Author of ‘White Evangelical Racism,’” Religion Dispatches, March 10, 2021.

Podcast: “Understanding the Causes and Consequences of White Evangelical Fear,” WBUR On Point, November 19, 2021.

Lauren R. Kerby. “The Dispossessed? Lived History and White Christian Nationalism.” Berkeley Forum, February 3, 2021.