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Hastings Race and Poverty Law Journal

Abstract

The November 2018 midterm elections engaged more voters than any midterm election since World War I. Moreover, from a Black Church perspective, the midterm elections arguably engaged more constituent members in secular politics than any time since the Civil Rights Movement and the historic passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. If the axiom is true that, “For every action there is a reaction,” the series of actions that have been part of Donald J. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” narrative have been met with a reaction that is “Making the Black Church Great Again!”

This interdisciplinary Article, juxtaposing aspects of law and theology, as well as history and sociology, asks the focal question, “And When Does the Black Church Get Political?” It uses an interdisciplinary approach to respond around a central thesis that Black Church politicization, as a fight for social justice, is responsive to certain sociopolitical and cultural events. In illustratively drawing a parallel between sociopolitical conditions during the Civil Rights Movement and those during the Era of Trump, this Article uses the African Methodist Episcopal Church as a quasi-case study in arguing the Black Church “gets political” when it responds to the needs of marginalized and oppressed people.

In addition to an extended literature review, this Article engages ethnographic research by using a set of fixed questions addressed to five members of the Council of Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in outlining a theology of resistance that is an intricate part of the Black Church experience. In response to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” narrative, I argue the time is now to also “Make the Black Church Great Again!”

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