Printer Friendly

Warrants for reconstruction: Christian hegemony, white supremacy.

Discourse on Religious Diversity

In 1893, the World's Parliament of Religions was held in Chicago, marking for many scholars a new age in interreligious understanding and cooperation. But, the optimism with which the Parliament has been placed as a defining memory for some in interfaith circles must necessarily be tempered by the wider context of racist and nationalist sentiment that flourished in the North America that was home to this landmark event. The conceptualization of America's Whiteness (1) as a racial and religious category emerged after the Civil War to provide a framework that was theological and political. This discourse of race as it intersects with religion has been fundamentally ignored in the narrative telling of interfaith progress in America. Yet, if we attend to the broader racial project in which the Parliament was situated, we may be better equipped to ask questions of how the political landscape informs interfaith work in its nineteenth-century origins and today.

As did their forebears at the 1893 Parliament, Christian theologians continue to ask what role the diverse religious traditions of the world play within Christian theological reflection, but they have yet to ask what role Whiteness plays as it intersects with this theological production. The task of this essay is to see that the construction of Whiteness as it emerged in the late nineteenth century must be reckoned with, as its legacy continues to haunt the landscape that is theological and political. Seeing the effects of Christian dominance in the projects of White supremacy, White Christian theologians must embrace the task of reconstructing our theologies of religious difference with an eye to racial as well as religious justice.

Framing Whiteness as Theological and Political

Sociologists Michael Omi and Howard Winant have helped us to ask fundamental questions about how Americans have come to think about ourselves as categorizable by race. The theory they put forth centers on the concept of the "racial project," that is, that "race" itself is a functional fiction by which people have constructed imaginative categories ("the races") and then sorted people into them. "Race" does not happen in nature, nor is it a consistent conceptual category over time; rather, human beings imaginatively conceive of "race" and participate in the formation of racial categories and their use. One element of naming these as "racial projects" is to see the plasticity of the categories of race and the variety of ways that people have been assigned membership. In the United States, for example, when we look at the census categories across time, the designations "Black," "White," "Latino," and "Native American" come into use, fall out of use, are introduced or discontinued, as plain as the words on the page. In other countries, different racial categories are employed, as in Brazil's 2010 census where one's options were: "white," "black," "yellow," "brown," or "indigenous." (1) Further, if one looks at the census categories employed in other parts of the world, instead of "race," the dominant categorizing tool might be "nationality" (as in Poland where one's choices are "Polish" "non-Polish"), "mother tongue," or "religion" (as in Cambodia, 2008). (3) The comparative glance across national race projects demonstrates, in part, the plasticity of race categorizations as well as the specificity of race discourses within national landscapes. For the White North American Christian theologian, the history and landscape of race are part of a particular racial project.

An important dimension of recognizing the racial project as the construction of any particular time or place is both to see this categorization as something other than a neutral description of "the fact of the races" and to train our eyes to see the construction of race as having material implications. That is, our ideas about the races and who fits into which one come with assigned rights, benefits, and restrictions. Omi and Winant noted:
   [R]acial formation is a process of historically situated projects
   in which human bodies and social structures are represented and

      ... [Here], race is a matter of both social structure and
   cultural representation....

      [Our] approach is to think of racial formation processes as
   occurring through a linkage between structure and representation.
   Racial projects do the ideological "work" of making these links. A
   racial project is simultaneously an interpretation, representation,
   or explanation of racial dynamics, and an effort to reorganize and
   redistribute resources along particular racial lines. Racial
   projects connect what race means in a particular discursive
   practice and the ways in which both social structures and everyday
   experiences are racially organized, based upon that meaning. (4)

Racial projects create the categories of "the races" (the dimension of cultural representation) and organize people and resources into those categories (the link with social structures). At any moment in time, a society's racial project would include the variable means by which persons are categorized into "races" (physiological, biological, phenotypical, ancestral country of origin), the meaning assigned to those racial categories, and the material benefits distributed or withheld on the basis of those racial categories. For example, to be categorized as "Black" in the U.S. was at times conceived as physiological, biological, phenotypical, and connected with ancestral country of origin--criteria that changed over time. Historically, the meaning assigned to the racial category of "Black" was to be "less than" White (lesser in culture, in attainment, in moral uprightness), and resources spanning the whole range of human needs were distributed unequally to the persons within this category. The commitment to White education, provisions for White housing, and the availability of lending, employment, and Social Security were written into laws and policies that provided bodily, material, social, and economic benefits to White citizens and were withheld from many Black citizens as part of America's racial project. (5) Not only "Black" and "White," but America's racial projects have also constructed Native peoples as "Indians" and categorized others as "Asian" or "Arab" or "Latino"--all with attendant legal and material implications. America has had a series of complex and morally charged racial projects since its beginning.

Whiteness in Nineteenth-Century America

To situate the 1893 Parliament within its wider racial project, we must contend with the long history of White supremacy at work in the U.S., an ideology that was underwritten by Christian theological supremacy. In its founding institutions, the nation had been established with the interests of White European Christians in mind, and the 150 years of American history from the Revolution to the Civil War was a long period of the formation of America as a White Christian nation through the genocide and conversion of Native peoples and the enslavement of Africans that accompanied the suppression of their native African religious practices. (6) Many of these projects were supported internationally by broader currents of philosophical thinking on race and religion, undertaken in diverse fields and often fueled by empire. As colonialism flowered into eighteenth-century European empires around the globe, the otherness of religion and culture created the opportunity for White supremacy to take root. This was the case in a variety of locations--and certainly in America. As Omi and Winant described:
   the "discovery" signalled a break from the previous proto-racial
   awareness by which Europe contemplated its "Others" in a relatively
   disorganized fashion. In other words, the "conquest of America" was
   not simply an epochal historical event--however unparalleled in its
   importance. It was also the advent of a consolidated social
   structure of exploitation, appropriation, domination. Its
   representation, first in religious terms, but soon enough in
   scientific and political ones, initiated modern racial awareness.

Philosophers and theologians in Europe theorized a crucial link between Christian supremacy and European cultural supremacy that provided "religious justifications for racial difference." (8) In Omi and Winant s assessment, "By the time of the Enlightenment, a general awareness of race was pervasive, and most of the great philosophers of Europe, such as Hegel, Kant, Hume, and Locke, had issued virulently racist opinions." (9) J. Kameron Carter's description of Immanuel Kant's eighteenth-century racial project captures the intersection of Christianity, culture, and "Whiteness": "Christianity as rational religion and Christ as the 'personified idea of the good principle' are the guarantee that whiteness, understood not merely and banally as pigment but as a structural-aesthetic order and as a sociopolitical arrangement, can and will be instantiated in the people who continue Christ's work, the work of Western civilization." (10) The simultaneous arguments here were the hierarchical ordering of cultures (with Western cultures at the top), the hierarchical ordering of religions (with Christianity at the top), and the hierarchical ordering of the races (with Whites at the top). As Willie James Jennings has described, in the encounter of the so-called New World, "Theology [becomes] the trigger for the classificatory subjugation of all nonwhite, non-Western peoples." (11) Or, in the words of James Perkinson, "Christian supremacy gave birth to white supremacy." (12)

In the project of hierarchical ordering, the supremacy of White Christianity was produced and maintained by othering both people who were not Christian and those who were non-White Christians. On the first point, when the Jews were categorized as a race, their pigment might have counted them as White, but the blood lines imaginatively constructed by covenant (that is, by religion) allowed philosophers such as Kant to categorize them as non-White. (13) At the same time, while the feature of religion could establish that non-Christians did not count as White, the plasticity of race projects enabled Christianity itself to come to be defined by its Whiteness. That is, the White Christian came to be considered the normative Christian in the Western religio-racial project. Stephen Ray explained that "in the modern era, the ideas of Western and Christianity were framed as being over and against those who were totally Other, who were not European, and who, most importantly, were heathens." (14) Ray continued:
   This particular framing establishes a new understanding of Western
   Christianity in which it is understood, on an implicit level, to be
   the natural religion of the European settlers over and against the
   heathen religion of the indigenous peoples and those who were
   forcibly indigenized to the Caribbean and other parts of the New
   World.... [T]he common assumption in much of the North American
   context is that Christianity as a faith is most
   accurately rendered, discursively/culturally, as the faith of the
   West and its truest bearers are Western peoples. (15)

In the early-modern period, White Christianity became America's religion. Even as Black Christianity emerged among the enslaved, it was "othered."

In anticipation of the cultural moment of the 1893 Parliament, this background history is important to recognize as America's racial-religious project established itself as a White Christian nation, with every institution designed with the well-being of White Christians in view. (16) But, in the years immediately preceding the Parliament, a new racial project was underway. Westward expansion again brought into focus the struggle to dispossess Native peoples, while requiring the work of new immigrants. Emancipation challenged White Americans in their concept of citizenship and nationhood. As Daniel Lee described, "The decades after the Civil War significantly changed the racial and religious landscape of the country. For the first time, Native Americans, emancipated Blacks, and new immigrants from all over the world challenged the cultural hegemony of Anglo-Saxon Christians with their undeniable presence." (17) In response to this changing landscape, Lee argued, White Christians actively engaged in a racial and religious project that rested on arguing the moral superiority of both Whiteness and Christianity. We see this in the civil religion of the day, as the rhetoric of manifest destiny was infused with Christian symbolism, (18) and we see this in popular writings of the Atlantic Monthly and similar magazines, as Lee's study described.

The learned educators of an emerging Catholic network of schools actively participated as well. University president (1846-51 and 1854-59) the Rev. Augustus J. Thebaud argued theologically for the moral superiority of European Christians, concluding that "the undeniable facts of oppression, invasion of rights, greed, and rapacity of some Christian nations in their colonies do not impair and weaken the truth that the present hegemony of the world by Europe was mainly the fruit of her superiority." (19) Further,
   Europeans have acquired their present proud position in the world
   by their whole system of morals, still more than by their
   theoretical knowledge and universal culture. They brought to
   foreign nations principles of right, of justice, of humanity, of
   real benevolence, which were not known among them before, and which
   Europeans themselves owed only to Christianity.... And it must be
   remarked that if the religion of Christ was to disappear at once
   from all places where it sheds still its holy influence, all these
   proofs of a superior morality would also vanish at once. (20)

Thebaud's nearly-500-page tome tracing the moral superiority of Christianity roots its argument in scriptural and theological evidence, moves through centuries and civilizations, and arrives at the nineteenth century's European encounter with the nations and religions of the world. Arguing against other scholarly appreciations of religious diversity of his day (for example, in conversation with William Lecky and Max Muller), Thebaud asserted that the moral superiority of Europe was owed exclusively to Christianity, rejecting concepts of "Moslem and Turkish benevolence." (21) Attitudes of racial and religious superiority are evident in his theological defense, as Thebaud wrote, "As to the pagan nations which [the Qur'an] has subdued, it must be said that in Africa, at least, it has not given many proofs of zeal for the destruction of fetichism [sic], most probably with a view to keeping on the Dark Continent a large supply of men eminently fitted for slavery, to which the Koran forbids to reduce the believers.'" (22) Simultaneously revealing an attitude that Africans were "fitted for slavery" because of their religious practices and that it was the fault of Muslim presence for enabling this fetishism, Thebaud revealed a complex entanglement of racial and religious prejudice, developed and sustained by European (White) Christian supremacy and embedded within America's university systems of knowledge production. (23)

It is within this landscape that we can return to the 1893 Parliament with new eyes and see how the religio-racial project "in the air" was reflected in many of the speeches of the gathering, tempering our contemporary impulse to celebrate the event as an unqualified success. In his opening address, Parliamentarian John Henry Barrows, chair of the general committee that organized the Parliament, acknowledged his Jewish collaborators as "men and women representing the most wonderful of all races," but he reserved accolades for the gathering as a Christian project undertaken distinctively in a Christian nation, asserting: "There is a true and noble sense in which America is a Christian nation ... the world calls us, and we call ourselves, a Christian people. ... and Christian America ... welcomes to-day the earnest disciples of other faiths." (24) In Barrows's estimation, as an American project, the Parliament was distinctively a Christian project.

For Henry Harris Jessup, founder of the American University in Beirut, the Christian project of North America was the divine project destined for the Anglo-Saxon race. (25) In his address to the Parliament he expressed the wider sense of racial and religious manifest destiny that circulated in the late nineteenth century, proposing:
   There is a Divine plan in all human history. It embraces nations as
   well as individuals, and stretches on to the end of time. Every
   nation and people is part of the plan of God, who has set to each
   its bounds and its sphere of service to God and man
      But no nobler service has been given to any people, no nobler
   mission awaits any nation than that which God has given to those
   who speak the English tongue.... Was it an accident that North
   America fell to the lot of the Anglo-Saxon race, that vigorous
   Northern people of brain and brawn, of faith and courage, of order
   and liberty? Was it not the Divine preparation of a field for the
   planting and training of the freest, highest Christian
   civilization...? This composite race of Norman Anglo-Saxon and
   Teutonic blood..., of this marvelous continent, were sent here as a
   part of a far reaching plan whose consummation will extend down
   through the ages. (26)

In welcoming the many representatives of the globe to the American Christian project of the World's Parliament of Religions, the Rev. Alexander McKenzie offered his opening remarks on the first day and invited the international delegates to see clearly the exceptional nature of the U.S. Here, Christian citizens in their churches and schools have been "manufacturing a republic--taking the black material of humanity and building it up into noble men and women; taking the red material, wild with every savage instinct, and making it into respectable men." (27) For some, the Parliament's project fit within the wider religio-racial project of America as a White Christian nation that brought with it the possibility that non-White persons could be made noble and respectable through Christian efforts.

America's racial project in the late nineteenth century--reflected in popular magazines, political rhetoric, and theological tracts--portrayed the landscape as a White Christian nation, exceptional in its accomplishments and its morality. In Lee's study, it was through Christianity that full citizenship would be made perfect. He concluded: "In the late nineteenth century, many White Americans accepted a great commission: evangelize the country and assimilate the foreigners. Whites rallied around the hope that if Blacks, crackers, Native Americans, and the masses of immigrants could only be converted to genuine Christianity, they would also become Anglo-Saxon." (28) It was a religio-racial project that was produced by many individuals with the time, resources, and capital to effect a wider public sentiment: pastors, magazine editors, theologians, politicians, journalists, university administrators, and scholars. Orienting ourselves through the concept of a "racial project," we can see that the women and men of the Parliament had the resources and symbolic capital to participate in this wider cultural production; therefore, we can view the Parliament as part of the production of America's racial project.

Legislating Supremacy: Christian Theology and Domestic Policy

Drawing attention to the way that theological production informs public opinion is but the first point upon which a second is positioned--namely, that the public opinion informed by theological production has legal, social, and material consequences. As we recognize the material outcomes of theological ideas, it becomes even more imperative to interrogate the projects of Christian theology for their White-supremacist ideologies.

Omi and Winant have provided a helpful framework for considering the question of where and when Christian theologies are racist, embedded as they are in the racial projects of the American landscape. They clarified that "[a] racial project can be defined as racist if and only if it creates or reproduces structures of domination based on essentialist categories of race." (29) The components here are twofold: essentialist categories of race, and structures of domination. With the former, "race" is seen in qualities that inhere in particular groupings as essential features of who the persons are; with the latter, racial projects are recognized as embedded in material conditions that provide for the well-being of some at the expense of others, that is, of domination. Structures of domination confer rights and material benefits on some, while withholding them from others.

Theological arguments within racist projects support the logic of domination with religious reasoning. In the White-supremacist ideology of America's racial project, Black enslavement was justified on religious grounds. The non-Christian deficiency of native Africans was a key theme in defending slavery on religious grounds, even as late as the 1860's when Roman Catholic Bishop Auguste Martin of Louisiana identified "slavery [as] an eminently Christian work ... [that saw] the redemption of millions of human beings who would pass in such a way from the darkest intellectual night to the sweet ... light of the Gospel." (30) In the era of the World's Parliament of Religions, Jim Crow policies and lynching culture similarly rested on arguments of the moral inferiority of Black citizens. As James Cone has powerfully portrayed America's lynch era (1880-1940), with its nearly 5,000 African American victims, "It was the moral and Christian responsibility of white men to protect the purity of their race by any means necessary." (31) The construction of the racial category "Black" as morally and culturally inferior was upheld by White Christians and provided theological justification for the extra-legal terrorism and execution of African Americans that was rampant in the country that was host to the Parliament.

If the proper Christianization of African Americans and new immigrants could make them fit for full citizenship, the project of Christian supremacy had devastating consequences for the non-Christian, as was the case for the growing Asian population in America. Between 1848 and 1868 waves of Chinese immigrants came to the U.S. through California; by one estimate, in 1879 approximately 113,000 Chinese resided on the West Coast. Their status, however, was precarious, as Erika Lee explained:
   Prior to 1875, then, immigration law was primarily under the
   jurisdiction of state governments. The one area of immigration law
   that the federal government controlled was naturalization. The
   country's first naturalization statute, the Naturalization Act of
   1790, was at the same time extremely generous and highly
   restrictive. By providing that "free White persons" who had been in
   the United States for as little as two years could be naturalized
   in any American court, the act reflected Congress's confidence in
   the ability of European immigrants to assimilate and become worthy
   American citizens. By neglecting to include non-Whites, however,
   the act established a racially encoded hierarchy of American
   citizenship that endured well until the mid-twentieth century.
   Until 1870, whether free Blacks were citizens or not depended on
   which state they lived in. Native Americans were considered members
   of "domestic dependent nations," or aliens who could not be
   naturalized. (32)

As America undertook its nation-building, now on the West Coast, states controlled the influx of immigrants prior to 1875. An example of the domination of Chinese immigrants by White Americans is that Chinese labor was necessary for nation-building, but their citizenship in the nation they were building was not necessarily in view. That this domination also included an essentialist category of race is evidenced in the tracts of the time, including the report of the Honorable George C. Perkins of California in the U.S. Senate: "The Chinese are an undesirable class of people. This is the unprejudiced judgment of people who know them, after years of experience.... [W]e would be much better off if they had never come among us, or if they would now go back again." (33)

As Erika Lee explained, "The move to restrict Chinese immigration in California began as early as 1855, but the federal government did not act until 1875." (34) Arguments against Chinese immigrants were economic (that they might take low-wage jobs away from poor European immigrants), but they were also deeply informed by race prejudice. In Lee's words:
   Explicit in the arguments for Chinese exclusion were several
   elements that would become the foundation of American gatekeeping
   ideology: racializing Chinese immigrants as permanently alien,
   threatening, and inferior on the basis of their race, culture,
   labor, and aberrant gender relations; containing the danger they
   represented by limiting economic and geographical mobility as well
   as barring them from naturalized citizenship through local, state,
   and federal laws and action; and lastly, protecting the nation from
   both further immigrant incursions and dangerous immigrants already
   in the United States by using the power of the state to legalize
   the modes and processes of exclusion, restriction, surveillance,
   and deportation. (35)

While Lee examined the gatekeeping function of American immigration policy in its racial and class-based exclusions and drew connections between patterns of the racialization of immigrant groups and the pattern of Chinese exclusion, she did not indicate the way religion functioned as a criteria or how theology participated in this protection of White supremacy.

The clergy, too, participated in the West Coast American racial project with public debates on immigration policy. As evidenced in the public speeches in San Francisco held on February 18 and 25 and March 14, 1873, Christian symbolic capital was mobilized on both sides of the debate. Jesuit Father Buchard argued against the threat of "cheap domestic labor" by Chinese boys aged twelve to sixteen, the "immoral, vicious, pagan Chinese" who drove "good, honest [Christian] souls" into professions of ill repute when they took their jobs. (36) His was not the only theological voice in the immigration debate. The Rev. Otis Gibson publicly responded to Buchard's propaganda and published a tract in defense of the Chinese. Even so, Gibson could argue, "All invidious legislation should be repealed, and Christian men and women must multiply their efforts to uplift and Christianize these people." (37)

Theological conceptualizations of the religious "other" also informed the political debate in its most formal and legal venue: the U.S. Senate. Here, a Senator from California mobilized theological currents to enact legal restrictions on the non-White, non-Christian other, arguing:
   The command of the Scriptures is: "Go ye into all the world, and
   preach the gospel to every creature" [Mk. 16:15, KJV]; not
   overwhelm your own family, your own neighborhood, your own nation
   with the bigots and effects of heathenism. Let the missionary go to
   China and convert these men from their heathenish practices, wash
   their robes, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb, and
   then, being fit for American citizenship and to become an integral
   part of our society, to be cemented into our political and moral
   structure, then let them come as immigrants. Until then, they
   deteriorate our body-politic and destroy our civilization. (38)

Theological voices and religious arguments were raised over many years to restrict the non-Christian other, culminating in the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, which "prohibited the further immigration of Chinese laborers, allowed only a few select classes of Chinese immigrants to apply for admission, and affirmed the prohibition of naturalized citizenship on all Chinese immigrants." (39) It is not until 1943 that the U.S. would repeal this act--but not without political resistance, as defenders argued again before Congress: "I believe that this nation is the last hope of western civilization and if this oasis of the world shall be overrun, perverted, contaminated or destroyed, then the last flickering light of humanity will be extinguished." (40)

The Religio-Racial Project of the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions

The wider religio-racial project of anti-Chinese sentiment and legislation was recognized by Barrows, who confessed, "We have not treated China very well in this country.... We have sometimes been severe toward her, and have sometimes persecuted her children. But the Emperor of China has responded in a Christian spirit to our call, and sent a delegate to this Congress." (41) At this point, we might begin to see the more interesting use of the Parliament not as an unqualified success in religio-racial progress but as an event of contest that reveals more of the religious dimension in the racial project of the day. A sharpened focus on the religio-racial dimension of the 1893 Parliament allows us to see the response of non-White, non-Christian others.

While religio-racist attitudes such as those propounded by McKenzie and Jessup situate the Parliament as part of the wider racist project of the day, other strands in Parliamentary addresses suggest that the event was an opportunity to transform America's late-nineteenth-century religio-racial project. Responding to the American Christian invitation, Pung Kwang Yu (the Chinese emperor's delegate and an expert on Confucianism) seems to have found the Parliament to be an opportunity for a countercultural experience of American Christian hospitality. In the published proceedings, the wider American public might read his plea (situated as it is under a standout photograph of the Parliamentarian). Under his stately portrait he pleads, "I have a favor to ask of all the religious people in America, and that is, that they will treat, hereafter, all my countrymen just as they have treated me." (42) The connection between the Parliament and the wider religio-racial project of North America not being lost on the Chinese delegate, he used the opportunity of this high-profile event to invite a different response to the religioracial other of the new Chinese immigrants. This opportunity to transform the religio-racial project of the day was also not lost on Barrows, his North American host and publisher of the Parliament's proceedings, who allowed for Pung Kwang Yu's treatment of Confucianism to be presented and published in full, among the most extensive papers in the Parliament (at sixty-five pages, more than four times the length of the next longest entries).

In addition to the attempt by organizers and delegates to repair the damages of Christian supremacy and racist ideologies, the Parliament was also an opportunity for delegates to speak back to prevailing attitudes of Christian dominance and White supremacy. Kinza Rigue M. Hirai of Japan drew attention to nativist sentiment that spawned discrimination and oppression not only of Asian immigrants to America but also among White Westerners who treated their religious and racial others with disrespect in their homelands. Challenging claims of "brotherly" love invoked by the Christian speakers, Hirai pushed back, recounting discrimination and disrespect of Asians in America and abroad: "If such be the Christian ethics--well, we are perfectly satisfied to be heathen." (43)

This opportunity to speak back was also conveyed through the cultural production of newspaper accounts, such as the Daily Tribune, whose September 26, 1893, issue captured the religio-racist preaching of Evangelical Pentecost from London against the immorality of non-Christians: "The Rev. Mr. Pentecost made several vicious thrusts at the Oriental delegates to the parliament, paying particular attention to the Hindoos," the newspaper recounted. (44) Rhetorically positioning Parliamentarian Virchand Gandhi's subsequent response as "the soft answer which turneth away wrath," the reader was invited to share the sympathy of the Parliament audience who "applauded loudly almost every point [Mr. Gandhi] scored." (45)

Thus, despite its construction as a White Christian project, the Parliament provided a venue for contesting White Christian America's late-nineteenth-century religio-racial project. Among the prominent thinkers of the day, some took the opportunity of the Parliament to put forth a different outcome for the Parliament to influence America's racial project. Renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass, for example, hailed the Parliament with the following: "it is one of the glories of this great congress that it brings together men of all varieties of opinion, as well as all complexion." (46) Academic and Reform Jewish leader Emil Gustav Hirsch similarly employed the religio-racial project of the Parliament for anti-racist ends. (47) He proposed,

"Race is accidental, not essential, in manhood. Color is indeed only skin deep.... None is nearer the heart of God than another.... [T]he apostles of Christianity after Paul, the Pundits of Buddhism, the Imams of Islam, and last, though not least, the rabbis of modern Judaism, have abandoned the narrow prejudice ... God is no respecter of persons. In His sight it is the black heart and not the black skin, the crooked deed and not the curved nose, which excludes." (48)

Attention to the Parliament in its wider religio-racial project enables us also to draw out the material implications of White Christian ideologies of supremacy and the intersections of Christian dominance and White supremacy. In a speech titled, "What Can Religion Further Do to Advance the Condition of the American Negro?" activist and reformer Fannie Barrier Williams used the Parliament as an opportunity to remind White America of the damages of its religio-racial project, recalling for the delegates a time "when mothers saw their babies sold by Christians on the auction block in order to raise money to send missionaries to foreign lands." (49)

Complex responses--such as those of Kinza Rigue Hirai and Fannie Barrier Williams--help us to read the Parliament not simply as a tool for White supremacy and Christian superiority or as a countercultural success in the landscape of White Christian racism but also as a dynamic project that participated in both the racist and anti-racist currents of America's religio-racial project in the late nineteenth century. The World's Parliament of Religions can indeed continue to function as an important moment for those of us interested in and committed to interfaith work, but we need to attend to the competing religio-racial projects articulated by our forebears as a way of committing ourselves to anti-racist work within our own inter faith projects. Recognizing that theologies of religious difference are part of wider religio-racial projects, we might ask: How does each of our theological propositions on religious diversity impact public opinion and shape our political landscape?

Warrants for Reconstruction: Theology in Service of White Supremacy

An investigation of the World's Parliament of Religions is not merely a social commentary on the racial demographics of late-nineteenth-century America and the wider religio-racial project of the day. It is an invitation for today's theologian to recognize that our theological production has consequences that are written into the legal landscape, providing rights and restrictions to the benefit of some at the expense of others. It is also an invitation for the White Christian theologian to see that the legacy of White Christian supremacy that has been the foundational ideology of the U.S. continues to function as a dominating discourse and framework for rights and well-being. Once we see this in history, we might be more attentive to it in our contemporary landscape, which continues to confer rights on some and to withhold them from others.

For example, Liav Orgad and Theodore Ruthizer drew attention to the way religion still functions as a feature of immigration law in an America that is holding on to Christian hegemony and White supremacy. They described the policy of the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, which targets temporary male residents from twenty-four Arab and other predominantly Muslim states and from North Korea. Exploring how this legislation particularly impacts Muslims in America, they recounted:
      In Rajah v. Mukasey, the Second Circuit upheld the registration
   requirement, aimed exclusively at citizens of certain
   Muslim-dominated countries, under the facially legitimate, bona
   fide standard. The Court held that it is [a] "plainly rational
   attempt to enhance national security" and added:

      To be sure, the Program did select countries that were, with the
   exception of North Korea, predominantly Muslim. Petitioners argue,
   without evidence other than that fact, that the Program was
   motivated by an improper animus toward Muslims. However, one major
   threat of terrorist at tacks comes from radical Islamic groups....
   The Program was clearly tailored to those facts. (50)

Orgad and Ruthizer concluded that "the War on Terror has revived immigrant selection based on nationality and religion." (51) Thus, in historical and contemporary perspectives, we can see that perceptions of our religious others have material outcomes on their legal status, political rights, and other forms of social well-being.

My present aim is not to advocate actively for the dismantling of immigration laws because they include religious discrimination as an "incidental impact" (52) in light of national security (although this may be a route some may want to take) but, rather, to use this point of connection with the nineteenth-century context to invite theologians to ask what other forms of exclusion and limits on human well-being are enacted as the result of religious prejudice. Restrictive immigration policies maybe one, but our neighbors of other faiths may also point to other forms of religious prejudice that are silently upheld by what is in the air in America: White supremacy and Christian superiority. (53) Given the role that theologians play in shaping public sentiment and the power that Christian theologians hold as guardians of symbolic capital, we might have new warrants for reconstructing Christian theological claims to finality, uniqueness, and superiority. This is not in competition with the Christian call of the gospel but is its application in our day.

Mark Lewis Taylor has helped to illuminate the power that theologians hold as guardians of symbolic capital. His contribution to this discussion begins with an analysis of who we are ontologically as human beings who are situated within a "weighted world," asserting that we cannot get around the plain fact that our being is political. He built this argument from the ground up, proposing that the nature of human existence is that we are situated in webs of fundamentally interconnected relationships in constant struggle for well-being and that this struggle is ultimately political.

Taylor began by situating the human person inextricably within the social fabric. We are ontologically (in our very being), as human beings, thoroughly enmeshed in relations to others, where matter and spirit emerge in sociality as we share our lives and space with others. This is the very basis of our being, so there is no human being or human becoming apart from its intimate interrelation with others, materially and spiritually. Ideally, Taylor wrote, we as human persons could relate to one another in "the delicate spacing of bodies, involving both mutual intimacy and distancing of bodies." (54) Yet, while this potential power equilibrium should ontologically--and could theoretically--frame our existence as human beings, our world is tragically characterized not by "delicate spacing" where the weight of the world is shared equally among us. Instead of delicate balance, the weight of the world is "shifted" onto some and released from others.

Taylor explained: "Shifting names what happens when the labile extension and delicate spacing of world bodies is disrupted. The results are not extension, relation, and spacing in a singular plural world, but masses, gatherings, crowdings, crammings, accumulations, demographic spurts, exterminations,' and so on." (55) Instead of delicate spacing of intimacy and relationality, a disequilibrium is maintained in our world by the constant exertion of power. Instead of individual striving only toward self-transcendence, all human beings are inevitably situated in the push-and-pull of a constant struggle: The privileged struggle to maintain their position and well-being, while the dispossessed struggle to achieve well-being. The struggle that Taylor named includes striving for bodily securities ("capital" in both economic and material senses), but it also includes the struggle for recognition, which he captures with the idea of "symbolic capital": "There is ... both an egoistic pursuit of self-love and a fascination with, and need to secure, approval of others. Glory, honor, credit, praise, fame--these make up the currency of symbolic capital." (56)

With the struggles to survive and to secure approval, Taylor's work offers a framework through which to consider the landscape of the theologian's work. Each of us is necessarily interconnected through networks and relationships; enmeshed in those relationships, we are invested in "matter" and material well-being while also impacted on the level of "spirit," insofar as we are seeking recognition. Simply put, "Human being is steeped in this weighted world ... bodies and their dispositions are shaped by a struggle for recognition and accumulation of symbolic capital." (57) Human beings are fundamentally constituted by their struggle to secure capital--both economic/material and symbolic. They, we, struggle for well-being and for recognition, and the two are not disconnected, but the conferral of recognition is intertwined with the conferral of well-being. The question of who counts as a matter of recognition is relevant to the question of who counts as a recipient of material well-being. The conferral of recognition through symbolic capital is in specific relation to the securing of well-being.

Who confers symbolic capital? In Taylor's view, gatekeepers of the family, the religious field, educational systems, and the state all function as guardians of symbolic capital. The scholar-theologian is embedded in at least two of these powerful fields. While Taylor drew on Pierre Bourdieu, this intersecting of material and symbolic power across fields of influence also recalls Edward Said's prescient witnesses to how academic discourses are not the domain of only one set of actors but are situated within mutually informing sets of discursive, economic, and material practices. Said asked us to consider:
   that fields of learning ... are constrained and acted upon by
   society, by cultural traditions, by worldly circumstance, and by
   stabilizing influences like schools, libraries and governments ...

      ... A field like Orientalism has a cumulative and corporate
   identity, one that is particularly strong given its associations
   with traditional learning (the classics, the Bible, philology),
   [its associations with] public institutions (governments, trading
   companies, geographical societies, universities), and
   [Orientalism's associations with] generically determined writing
   (travel books, books of exploration, fantasy, exotic description).

Taylor outlined and Said reminded us that our theological discourses are part of a larger network of discourses such that spheres conceptualized as distinct are actually mutually informing in the discursive landscape. Key to both programs is the recognition that this entanglement of discursive practices has implications for and impact on lived political, social, and material situations. Guardians of symbolic capital can confer privileges that are accompanied by social, political, and material well-being, or they can deny these privileges and the attached material well-being. Our theological ideas do not float free from the social networks in which we as human being are embedded.

If racialized oppressions can be traced to theological foundations and we can see the work done by theologies of Christian superiority as part of this oppression, perhaps there is a new warrant for revising our theologies of religious pluralism toward greater inclusiveness of real diversity. The theological tradition of Christian supremacy has as its briefest shorthand the expression, "Outside the Church, No Salvation." This axiom reigned supreme as the Christian response to religious diversity from the second through the twentieth centuries. It organized a fledging church over against its others and propelled Christian empire when this same church was sufficiently powerful. (59)

If we can trace the ideology of White supremacy and its attendant subject position of White well-being to powerful theological foundations of exclusion, might this be an opportunity to reorient our theological thinking by placing the practical outcomes of our theologizing more clearly in view? Christian theologies of religious difference emerge from engagement with the biblical texts, to be sure, but the scriptural witness is engaged through contemporary theories and inflected with the diverse interests of persons embedded bodily in a material world. Further, Christian theologies of religious difference have the symbolic capital to produce legal, social, and material outcomes.

Given the vast diversity that can be produced by this dynamic mix and this shifting set of influences, we might foreground in our theological method what Francis Schussler Fiorenza identified as a "retroductive warrant." In his words, "A retroductive warrant within the philosophy of science refers to the fertility of a hypothesis, idea or theory.... This theoretical and practical fruitfulness is both prospective and retrospective.... Theological theory advances not simply by implication or correlation, but rather through the creative suggestion by which the experience of the community's past, present and future is illuminated." (60) The practical fruitfulness of our theologies of religious pluralism--in their potentially racist or anti-racist applications--might be placed more fully in view as we continue the interfaith work of the twenty-first century.

In the discourse on religious pluralism that gained speed in the last part of the twentieth century and has flowered into full-fledged interfaith studies in the twenty-first century, very little attention has been paid to the intersection of race and religious pluralism. Among the few theologians willing to recognize the possibility, Gavin D'Costa has argued, "Exclusivist theologies do not logically and necessarily lead to racist or imperialist attitudes toward non-Christians, although, contingently, they may on occasion." (61) Yet, the preponderance of evidence suggests that the same proponents of White supremacy in America's modern period were also defenders of Christian superiority. Thus, the employment of a retroductive warrant against both exclusivist theologies and even the more modest inclusivist ones on the grounds of their fruitfulness in perpetuating racism and religious oppression must invite our consideration.

White American Christian theologians need to take stock of the way their work is embedded in systems of oppression ("that is, to the sanctioning and nurturing of systems of inequality that are woven throughout social institutions and embedded within individual consciousness"). (62) James Cone has indicated this clearly and repeatedly over more than forty years of work: "No group has done more in defining the public meaning of the gospel than White scholars. And no group has done more to corrupt its meaning, making Christianity seem compatible with White supremacy." (63) Theologians bear the responsibility for the public meaning of the gospel, but this also means that theologians have the tools to reshape the public meaning of the gospel in anti-racist theologies.

In Schussler Fiorenza's method, a retroductive warrant is one among many component parts of a method that seeks a broad reflective equilibrium among its constituent factors. The retroductive warrant is one element complemented by engagement with the hermeneutics of scripture and tradition, recognition of distinctive background theories, and engagement with living communities of discourse. Theologians attentive to racism embedded in White theologies have employed a retroductive warrant to reconstruct Christian thought and practice attentive to the realities of White supremacy, but their work has not always seen this as also a response to Christian hegemony. (64) The retroductive warrant that resists Christian dominance and rejects exclusivism and inclusivism as fueling racial and religious discrimination is placed into conversation with scripture and tradition as a theology of religious others emerges. This commitment to the well-being of my non-Christian neighbor resonates well with the witness of the gospel to Jesus' own concern for those on the margins. (65) Given the history of Christian hegemony's fueling White supremacy, now is the time for theologians to employ an anti-supremacist retroductive warrant and to find warrants for a nonsupremacist theology in scripture and tradition as well.

(1) I am employing capitalization of "White" and "Black" (and "Whiteness") as a way of indicating racial categories that have been used in a variety of racial projects within the United States. In this, I am following the U.S. Census Bureau, which capitalizes all race categories; see

(2) See S.pdf.

(3) See

(4) Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Racial Formation in the United States: From the 1960s to the 1990s, 2nd ed. (New York and London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 55-56; emphases in original.

(5) Examples of racialized legislation include not only those pertaining to servitude in Slave Codes but also those pertaining to access to social institutions; e.g., Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896; access to education, Morrill Land Grant Acts of 1862 and 1890; and access to housing and Social Security, 1934.

(6) For a concise overview of this history, see Joseph Barndt, Becoming an Anti-Racist Church: Journeying toward Wholeness (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2011).

(7) Omi and Winant, Racial Formation, p. 62.

(8) Ibid., p. 63.

(9) Ibid.

(10) J. Kameron Carter, Race: A Theological Account (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2008), p. 89, quoting Immanuel Kant, "The Personified Idea of the Good Principle," in his Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason (1793).

(11) Willie James Jennings, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race (New Haven, CT, and London: Yale University Press, 2010), p. 87.

(12) James W. Perkinson, "Reversing the Gaze: Constructing European Race Discourse as Modern Witchcraft Practice," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 72 (September, 2004): 619.

(13) Carter demonstrated this with respect to White non-Christians in the construction of the jews as a distinct racial category. This racialization of "Jewishness" continued throughout the nineteenth century with devastating effects in twentieth-century Germany under the Third Reich. For the intersection of "Jewish" as a racial and religious category in Hitler's Germany, see Susannah Heschel, The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008).

(14) Stephen G. Ray, Jr., "Contending for the Cross: Black Theology and the Ghosts of Modernity," Black Theology: An International Journal 8 (April, 2010): 59; emphases in original. The racialization of Native Americans as a religious project of Christian mission is outlined in Daniel Murphree, "Race and Religion on the Periphery: Disappointment and Missionization in the Spanish Floridas, 1566-1763," in Henry Goldschmidt and Elizabeth McAlister, eds., Race, Nation, and Religion in America (Oxford, U.K., and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), pp. 35-59.

(15) Ray, "Contending for the Cross," p. 60.

(16) Barndt claimed that "every institution in the United States--including every church--was created with a mission and purpose to serve white people exclusively" (Barndt, Becoming an Anti-Racist Church, p. 130).

(17) Daniel B. Lee, "A Great Racial Commission: Religion and the Construction of White America," in Goldschmidt and McAlister, Race, Nation, and Religion, p. 85.

(l8) John L. O'Sullivan, "The Great Nation of Futurity," The United States Democratic Review, vol. 6, no. 23 (1839), pp. 426-430.

(19) Aug[ustus] J. Thebaud, The Church and the Moral World: Considerations on the Holiness of the Church (New York; Cincinnati, OH; and St. Louis, MO: Benziger Brothers, 1881), pp. 157-158.

(20) Ibid., pp. 158-159

(21) Ibid., p. 198.

(22) Ibid., pp. 199-200; emphasis in original.

(23) The work of universities and theology faculties in the production of America's religio-racial project of White Christian supremacy is chronicled in Craig Wilder, Ebony and Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America's Universities (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013).

(24) John Henry Barrows, "Words of Welcome," in John Henry Barrows, ed., The World's Parliament of Religions (Chicago: Parliament Publishing Co., 1893), vol. 1, p. 74; also in Richard Hughes Seager, ed. and intro., The Dawn of Religious Pluralism: Voices from the World's Parliament of Religions, 1893 (LaSalle, IL: Open Court Publishing, 1993), p. 25.

(25) Henry Harris Jessup and other speakers at the Parliament reminded us of the prominence of the voices represented in this venue. As described by the Presbyterian Historical Society, Jessup was a graduate of Union Theological Seminary before years in service to mission in Syria. "In 1866, Jessup helped found the Syrian Protestant College, now the American University of Beirut" (see the "Biographical Note" at http://www.history.pcusa.Org/collections/research-tools/guides-archival-collections/rg-183#sthash. Hr2CIPPy.dpuf

(26) Henry Harris Jessup, "The Religious Mission of the English-Speaking Nations," in Seager, Dawn, pp. 37-38. While Jessup's paper was not read until the thirteenth day of the seventeen-day Parliament, Seager selected this essay to open his chronicle of the event. It is remarkable that more discussion of the 1893 Parliament does not draw attention to the racist ideology of White Christians, given the scholarly reliance on Seager's work in representing the Parliament.

(27) The Rev. Alexander McKenzie, pastor of the Shepard Memorial Church, Cambridge, MA, in Barrows, World's Parliament, vol. 1, p. 84.

(28) D. Lee, "A Great Racial Commission," p. 104.

(29) Omi and Winant, Racial Formation, p. 71; emphases in original.

(30) "Maria Caravaglios, "A Roman Critique of the Pro-Slavery Views of Bishop Martin of Natchitoches, Louisiana," in Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, vol. 83 (1972), p. 71; quoted in Cyprian Davis, "God of Our Weary Years: Black Catholics in American Catholic History," in Diana L. Hayes and Cyprian Davis, eds., TakingDown Our Harps: Black Catholics in the United States (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1998), p. 25.

(31) James Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2011), pp. 7-8.

(32) Erika Lee, "Immigrants and Immigration Law: A State of the Field Assessment," Journal of American Ethnic History 18 (Summer, 1999): 87.

(33) Hon. George C. Perkins, "Chinese Exclusion: Speech in the Senate of the United States, Wednesday, November 1, 1893, on the Provisions of the New Chinese Law" (Washington, DC, 1893), p. 9; available at hb5s20045s/?order=6&(brand=calisphere.

(34) E. Lee, "Immigrants," p. 89.

(35) Erika Lee, "The Chinese Exclusion Example: Race, Immigration, and American Gatekeeping, 1882-1924 "Journal of American Ethnic History 21 (Spring, 2002): 38; emphases in original.

(36) Rev. O[tis] Gibson, Chinaman or White Man, Which? A Reply to Father Buchard, Delivered in Platt's Hall, San Francisco, Friday Evening, Mar. 14,1873 (San Francisco, CA: Alta California Printing House, 1873), pp. 9 and 13; Chinese in California Collection, University of California Libraries/California Digital Library; available at http://content.cdhb. org/ark:/13030/hb7c600sdw/?order=7&brand=calisphereand ark:/13030/hb7c0005dw/?order=9&brand=calisphere.

(37) Ibid., p. 29; available at =17&brand=calisphere.

(38) Aaron Augustus Sargent, "Chinese Immigration: Speech of Hon. A. A. Sargent of California, in the Senate of the United States, March 7, 1878" (Washington, DC, 1878), p. 23; Chinese in California Collection, University of California Libraries/California Digital Library; available at hb387002gk/?order=13&;brand=calisphere.

(39) E. Lee, "Immigrants," p. 90.

(40) Pat McCarran [the late U.S. Senator from Nevada], "Should Basic Changes Be Made in U.S. Immigration Policy?" Congressional Digest, January 1, 1956, p. 19. Even today, racist perspectives can be proposed on religious grounds--e.g., "In his controversial book, Who Are Wei, Samuel Huntington called on Congress to adopt immigration criteria aimed at preserving the so-called 'Anglo-Protestant culture'" (Liav Orgad and Theodore Ruthizer, "Race, Religion, and Nationality in Immigration Selection: 120 Years after the Chinese Exclusion Case," Constitutional Commentary 26 [Spring, 2010]: 261).

(41) Barrows, World's Parliament, vol. 1, p. 88; quoted in Seager, Dawn, p. 344.

(42) Pung Kwang Yu, quoted in the caption under his photograph in Barrows, World's Parliament, vol. 1, p. 377.

(43) Kinza Rigue M. Hirai, "The Real Position of Japan toward Christianity," in Barrows, World's Parliament, vol. 1, p. 449.

(44) Daily Tribune, September 16, 1893, in Seager, Dawn, p. 334.

(45) Ibid., in Seager, Dawn, p. 335.

(46) Frederick Douglass, "Impromptu Comments," in Walter R. Houghton, ed., Neely's History of the Parliament of Religions (Chicago: Neely Publishing Co., 1894), p. 702; in Seager, Dawn, p. 135.

(47) Emil Gustav Hirsch served as rabbi of Chicago Sinai Congregation from 1880 to 1923. "[I]n this time, he was a towering figure and exercised enormous influence on the Reform movement. He was an excellent scholar and for many years served as professor of rabbinic literature and philosophy at the University of Chicago. He was also the author of some 300 articles in the Jewish Encyclopedia (1901-06)" (Bernard Martin, "Mordecai M. Kaplan and Reformjudaism, "Judaism 30 [Winter, 1981]: 75).

(48) Emil Gustav Hirsch, "Elements of Universal Religion," in Houghton, Neely's History, pp. 816-820; in Seager, Dawn, pp. 221-222.

(49) Fannie Barrier Williams, "What Can Religion Further Do to Advance the Condition of the American Negro?" in Seager, Dawn, p. 143. For an extensive account of Williams's work, see Wanda Hendricks, Fannie Barrier Williams: Crossing the Borders of Region and Race (Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2014). For a fuller account of Williams's Parliament speech and its theological implications, see Jeannine Hill Fletcher, "Marginal Notes: Women and Other 'Others' in the Theology of Religions," presentation at an international conference on Dialogue and Discernment: The Past, Present, and Future of Interreligious Dialogue, at the University of Leuven, Belgium, November 12-15, 2014; publication pending.

(50) Orgad and Ruthizer, "Race, Religion, and Nationality," p. 255.

(51) Ibid., p. 261.

(52) Ibid., p. 256, quotingAshcroftv. Iqbal (2009).

(53) Another clear example of religious prejudice's restricting American citizens' rights is the resistance to the building of an Islamic Center in New York City (Park, 51); see At the time of completing this essay, the current debate over many states' refusing to accept the relocation of Syrian refugees is also relevant.

(54) Mark Lewis Taylor, The Theological and the Political: On the Weight of the World (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2011), p. 41.

(55) Ibid., quoting Ian James, The Fragmentary Demand: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Jean-Luc Nancy (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006), p. 79 [incorrect page attribution to James].

(56) Taylor, The Theological and the Political, p. 88.

(57) Ibid., pp. 223-224.

(58) Edward W. Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1979), pp. 201-202.

(59) See Francis A. Sullivan, Salvation outside the Church? Tracing the History of the Catholic Response (New York and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1994).

(60) Francis Schussler Fiorenza, "Systematic Theology: Task and Methods," in Francis Schussler Fiorenza and John Galvin, eds., Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2011), pp. 58 and 59. For more on Schussler Fiorenza's use of the retroductive warrant, see Terrence Bateman, Reconstructing Theology: The Contribution of Francis Schussler Fiorenza (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2014).

(61) Gavin D'Costa, Christianity and World Religions: Disputed Questions in the Theology of Religions (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), p. 25.

(62) Jack Hill, "Fighting the Elephant in the Room: Ethical Reflections on White Privilege and Other Systems of Advantage in the Teaching of Religion," Teaching Theology and Religion 12 (January, 2009): 8.

(63) James H. Cone, "Black Liberation Theology and Black Catholics: A Critical Conversation," Theological Studies 61 (December, 2000): 745.

(64) Cone, Perkinson, Ray, and Emilie Townes are among a cohort of Christian theologians and ethicists who have been addressing White supremacy within Christian theology throughout their careers. Barndt has presented his work with a more activist and pastoral leaning. To what extent this work is incorporated within theological programs is a significant concern that Taylor's work raises; see Taylor, The Theological and the Political.

(65) This argument was being developed by Aimee Upjohn Light in the conclusion of her article, "Is Jesus on the Side of the Non-Christian?" Journal of Interreligious Dialogue, Issue 8 (2012), pp. 60-76; available at

Jeannine Hill Fletcher (Catholic) has a B.A. from the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and an M.T.S. and Th.D. (2001) from Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, MA. She has taught theology at Fordham University, Bronx, NY, since 2001, with previous teaching experience at Harvard University, 1998-2001. Her work at Fordham included a travel course to the 2004 Parliament of the World's Religions in Barcelona, Spain. Her more than two dozen scholarly addresses to professional societies have taken her throughout the U.S. and to Canada, Belgium, and Spain, and she has given more than three dozen presentations in academic and religious settings. Since 2007, she has been Faculty Director of Fordham's Service-Learning Program, as well as part of the instructional team for summer seminars on Theologies of Religious Pluralism and Comparative Theology for the American Academy of Religion (Luce Foundation Grant). Her books include Motherhood as Metaphor: Engendering Interreligious Dialogue (Fordham University Press, 2013) and Monopoly on Salvation? A Feminist Approach to Religious Pluralism (Continuum, 2005). Her articles have appeared as chapters in a dozen books (with four more forthcoming) and in such journals as American Catholic Studies, the Journal of Interreligious Studies, and Theological Studies. Her reviews have appeared in several theological journals.
COPYRIGHT 2016 Journal of Ecumenical Studies
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2016 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Fletcher, Jeannine Hill
Publication:Journal of Ecumenical Studies
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2016
Previous Article:Pluralistic inclusivism and Christian-Muslim dialogue: the challenge of moving beyond polite discussion toward reconciliation and peace.
Next Article:Descandalizing multiple religious identity with help from Nicholas Black elk and his spirituality: an exercise in interreligious learning.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2022 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |