What Would Jesus Do? A Reflection on the Role of Religion and Ethics

  • Catalina Freixas
  • Mark Abbott
Part of the The Urban Book Series book series (UBS)


The purpose of the chapter is to explore the role of religion and ethics in the creation and mitigation of segregation. The research of Lincoln and Mamiya (The Black Church in African-American experience. Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 1990), Stassen and Gushee (2003), Hayes (Forged in the Fiery Furnace: African-American Spirituality. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 2012), Irving (Waking up white: and finding myself in the story of race. Elephant Room Press, Cambridge, MA, 2014), Massingale (Racial Justice and the Catholic Church. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY, 2014), Stevenson (America’s Original Sin: racism, white privilege, and the bridge to a New America. Brazos Press, Ada, MI, 2016), Ward (The fire this time: a new generation speaks about race. Scribner, New York, 2016), and Dyson (Tears we cannot stop: a sermon to White America. St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2017) informed this focus-group agenda. Two main themes emerged from the conversation. The first was that all the mainstream religions had both perpetuated racism and segregation as well as fought for their demise. The second was that contemporary faith-based groups have lost the commitment that they once had to social justice in the 1960s. Nevertheless, the discussants maintained that all Americans, whether they are religiously affiliated or not, have a moral imperative to address the injustices which African Americans continue to endure. In the accompanying essay, “Race-Neutral Language and the Catholic Obsession with Innocence: A St. Louis Priest’s Homily in the Wake of Michael Brown’s Death,” Aimee VonBokel argues that mainstream religions—American Catholicism in particular—have used the allusion that simply not causing harm excuses them from actively working to undo social injustices.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catalina Freixas
    • 1
  • Mark Abbott
    • 2
  1. 1.ArchitectureWashington University in St. LouisSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Social and Behavioral SciencesHarris-Stowe State UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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