ISSN: 1522-5658
Supplement 24 (2023)

Table of Contents

Religion, Race, and the Other

Edited by Ronald A. Simkins, Creighton University

Introduction (pp. 1–3)

Ronald A. Simkins, Creighton University
[ Introduction ]

1. Religion, Race, and Immigration Attitudes in the 2020 US Elections (pp. 4–29)

Gregg B. Johnson and James Paul Old, Valparaiso University
[ Abstract ] [ Chapter 1 ]

2. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ 2018 Statement against Racism: A Critical Analysis (pp. 30–52)

Todd A. Salzman and Michael G. Lawler, Creighton University
[ Abstract ] [ Chapter 2 ]

3. The Romanian Orthodox Church and the Roma (pp. 53–74)

Nicolae Roddy, Creighton University
[ Abstract ] [ Chapter 3 ]

4. Wakara’s Skull: Settler Religion, Settler Science, and the (Re-)creation of the American West (pp. 75–96)

Max Perry Mueller, University of Nebraska–Lincoln
[ Abstract ] [ Chapter 4 ]

5. An Act “More Offensive than Slavery”: Revista Católica’s Response to Lynching in the Late Nineteenth Century (pp. 97–117)

Julia Fleming, Creighton University
[ Abstract ] [ Chapter 5 ]

6. Earthly Objects: Agriculture and Nature Religion in the Antebellum North
(pp. 118–31)

Matthew W. Dougherty, Victoria University in the University of Toronto
[ Abstract ] [ Chapter 6 ]

7. Jews and Slavery in Antebellum America: What Does the Bible Say? Why Does It Matter? (pp. 132–40)

Leonard J. Greenspoon, Creighton University
[ Abstract ] [ Chapter 7 ]

8. An Evaluation of Black Church Rosters as a Predictor for Discriminatory Burial Location Practices in a Pioneer Cemetery (pp. 141–51)

Brian Kokensparger, Creighton University
[ Abstract ] [ Chapter 8 ]

The role that religion plays in shaping many kinds of political attitudes has received considerable scholarly attention, and recent studies have documented the influence of religion over attitudes toward immigration. Since different religious traditions have different teachings on this issue, the relationship is complex, and it is further complicated by the unique role that religion plays within particular racial and ethnic communities. It is likely that the influence of religion over immigration attitudes will depend on the unique circumstances of particular racial or ethnic communities. The heightened attention paid to immigration during recent United States elections provides a unique opportunity to explore these questions further. Using Cooperative Election Study data from 2020, this study finds that race and ethnicity are stronger predictors of immigration attitudes than religion affiliation; however, religious affiliation does have some influence, particularly for White respondents. Additionally, this study finds that for some of the groups that hold the most extreme attitudes on immigration, religious service attendance has a moderating effect that moves both conservatives and liberals toward more moderate positions.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued several documents on racism. In this essay, we critically analyze its most recent document, Open Wide Our Hearts. First, we provide a brief overview of OWOH. Second, we critically analyze that statement and compare it to other USCCB documents addressing racism, focusing on the tension between racism as a “radical evil” or “intrinsic evil” vs. a conscious or unconscious sin, the interrelationship between personal sin and social sin, and the failure to recognize and acknowledge “white privilege.” Third, we offer ethical methodological suggestions to guide the USCCB’s next formal statement against racism.
Shortly after their fourteenth-century migration into the Romanian principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, an indeterminate but significantly large number of Roma families were enslaved by ruling princes, who in turn gifted many of them as property to noble and monastic estates. Their emancipation nearly five centuries later was followed by varying degrees of otherness—from toleration to deportation and death—that persisted throughout successive political regimes and social climates, all of which with varying degrees of support from the Romanian Orthodox Church (ROC). As of this writing, the ROC has yet to officially acknowledge and apologize for the prolonged enslavement of Roma on Orthodox monastic estates, let alone the indignities and violence toward Romani families perpetrated by many of its clergy during the height of the nation’s fascist period in WWII. This paper briefly recounts the tragic experience of Roma in pre-modern and modern Romania, with special focus on the role of the ROC and its clergy in the abuse of Roma rights. It also acknowledges some of the rare occasions when Roma rights and dignity have been supported by enlightened clerics. Finally, in support of Roma rights organizations and initiatives by European Union and the Romanian government to promote Roma inclusion in society, it concludes with a respectful and reasoned appeal to the Romanian Orthodox Patriarchate and the Synod of Bishops to officially acknowledge and apologize for the church’s participation in Roma enslavement, believing such action would help expunge institutional sin and begin the long overdue process of reconciliation leading to a brighter, mutually beneficial future.
In 1872, the skull of Wakara (c. 1815–1855), the infamous Ute horse thief and slave trader, was stolen from his gravesite in Utah’s Pahvant Mountains. I argue that what happened to Wakara’s skull reveals how settler religion and settler science combined to form the dominant creation story of the American West. I recount three, interrelated creation stories of America. I also tell a fourth story about Wakara, a founding father of the American West whom few scholars of the West have heard of. The theft of Wakara’s skull relates to why Wakara has been purposefully left out of the dominant creation story of the West. Yet Wakara’s story, and the stories of his lineal, tribal, and spiritual descendants, also reveal that, instead of the linear creation story of settler conquest and Indian removal, the West is being re-created constantly through cycles of displacement and diaspora as well as resistance, resilience, and return.
In the late nineteenth century, Revista Católica, a Jesuit Spanish-language weekly from New Mexico, analyzed American lynching ethically and condemned it editorially. Denouncing lynching as wrong under any circumstances, Revista’s argument evolved to include race, acknowledging non-Hispanic whites’ vigilantism against marginalized groups, and religion, since it interpreted lynching as an Anglo-Protestant practice. The review invoked lynching to discredit Protestant leaders who supported vigilantism, especially against Jesuit targets. For Revista, lynching, a barbarous act under any circumstances, also revealed the oppressive violence and hypocrisy of the dominant culture.
The category of “nature religion,” first proposed by Catherine Albanese, drew attention to the religious work that the concept of nature has done in North America. This paper argues for the importance of nature religion in evangelical writing about agriculture during the aggressive expansion of the early and mid-nineteenth century. It argues, first, that evangelicals portrayed agriculture as redemptive: exalting human beings from economic dependency and perhaps returning the earth to an Edenic state. Second, it argues that evangelicals portrayed the extension of European-style agriculture as a way to redeem the land from “waste” and fulfil its divinely appointed purpose. Third, it argues that evangelicals read the flourishing of agriculture as a sign that the dispossession of Indigenous peoples fulfilled God’s purposes, making landscapes into texts authorizing colonial expansion.
In early January 1861, several religious leaders throughout the United States took to their pulpits to consider whether slavery, as practiced in the South, was or was not supported by the Bible. Among this largely Protestant group there were a few rabbis, some of whom found biblical support for slavery, with others condemning it based on biblical teachings. In my presentation, I will summarize and analyze selected antebellum sermons within several contexts: Jewish interpretive/exegetical traditions, other (Christian) sermons delivered on the same topic, American biblical interpretation through the mid-nineteenth century, and the lasting effects and relevance of these sermons up to and including today. I invite readers to reflect on other circumstances in which the (mis)interpretation/application of the Bible has played a role in the consideration and determination of attitudes toward race.
Were historically Black churches homogenous in race over the history of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Omaha? What was the percentage of Black citizens who regularly attended a given church, and might therefore be listed in its roster? This paper examines the rosters of historically Black churches to determine if several of the names of buried deceased persons that are already identified as “Black burials” are also among those in the church rosters, thus verifying the likelihood that the person buried was Black. It is also a possibility that currently unidentified Black burials could be newly identified by finding names among the rosters. This paper also examines the rosters of Black churches to determine if they are good predictors for Black burials in Omaha’s Prospect Hill Cemetery, and therefore could be used as identifiers of deceased persons and their families who were subjected to the discriminatory burial location practices employed in local cemeteries during the redlining era.