America's Original Sin Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America

Jim Wallis

Book - 2016

America's problem with race has deep roots, with the country's foundation tied to the near extermination of one race of people and the enslavement of another. Racism is truly our nation's original sin. "It's time we right this unacceptable wrong," says bestselling author and leading Christian activist Jim Wallis. Fifty years ago, Wallis was driven away from his faith by a white church that considered dealing with racism to be taboo. His participation in the civil ri...ghts movement brought him back when he discovered a faith that commands racial justice. Yet as recent tragedies confirm, we continue to suffer from the legacy of racism. The old patterns of white privilege are colliding with the changing demographics of a diverse nation. The church has been slow to respond, and Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour of the week. In America's Original Sin, Wallis offers a prophetic and deeply personal call to action in overcoming the racism so ingrained in American society. He speaks candidly to Christians -- particularly white Christians -- urging them to cross a new bridge toward racial justice and healing. Whenever divided cultures and gridlocked power structures fail to end systemic sin, faith communities can help lead the way to grassroots change. Probing yet positive, biblically rooted yet highly practical, this book shows people of faith how they can work together to overcome the embedded racism in America, galvanizing a movement to cross the bridge to a multiracial church and a new America.

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2nd Floor 305.8/Wallis Checked In
Grand Rapids : Brazos Press [2016]
Physical Description
xxv, 238 pages ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Main Author
Jim Wallis (author)
  • Introduction: You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free
  • Race is a story
  • The parables of Ferguson and Baltimore
  • The original sin and its legacy
  • Repentance means more than just saying you're sorry
  • Dying to whiteness
  • A segregated church or a beloved community?
  • From warriors to guardians
  • The new Jim Crow and restorative justice
  • Welcoming the stranger
  • Crossing the bridge to a new America.
Review by Library Journal Reviews

Author and Sojourners founder Wallis (God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It) employs a particularly evangelical take on the doctrine of original sin. None of us start with a clean slate; we are damaged by the past. Within this theological perspective, Wallis works to convince his fellow evangelicals that, in this sense, racism is America's original sin, further arguing that racism has been with this country before it was a nation, and that its effects are so pervasive and entrenched that even "race neutral" or "color-blind" policies can only serve to preserve the grievous fault. The author continues with a similarly evangelical remedy—repentance, insisting that the concept is not simply a matter of being sorrowful for past wrongs but a turning about that actively works toward being reconciled with one another. However, a secular translation that evangelicals can use across sectarian lines is less apparent. The balance of the book looks at the range of steps to effect that reconciliation. Wallis may be a bit too quick in outlining particular penances since he seems to offer no dialog with those of good will who disagree. VERDICT A thought-provoking plea to white evangelicals and white Christians in general.—James Wetherbee, Wingate Univ. Libs., NC [Page 108]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A best-selling author and leading Christian activist shows how Christians can work together to overcome the destructive and pervasive nature of racism in American society. Simultaneous eBook.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Looks at the state of race relations in America and the thread of racism running through American society, and offers guidance on how Christians can work to overcome its pernicious influence.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Bestselling author and leading Christian activist Jim Wallis shows how Christians can work together to overcome the destructive and pervasive nature of racism in American society.