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Political Engagement Meets the Prosperity Gospel: African American Christian Zionism and Black Church Politics

sociology-of-religionJournal abstract
How do religion and race affect political engagement in black churches? Studies of black church-based politics typically use religious frameworks of emancipation in the form of social gospels, associating politically engaged groups with socially liberal politics and movements for racial justice. In contrast, this article draws on two years of fieldwork as well as interviews with clergy and laity to explain how non-emancipatory religious frameworks and politically conservative religious activism operate in black churches. Using the case of African American Christian Zionism, which draws on racial and religious motivations to foster political support for the State of Israel, this article argues for increased attention to theologically and politically conservative social movements within black churches. The discourse of this movement provides an instructive example of how black church political engagement is increasingly focusing on alternative motivations and social solidarities, rather than exclusively operating in contexts that emphasize racial justice and emancipation.