Reckoning with white-flight and faith: an ethno-theological case study of racial history and evangelical memory in postwar Los Angeles

Jones, Matthew (2021) Reckoning with white-flight and faith: an ethno-theological case study of racial history and evangelical memory in postwar Los Angeles. PhD thesis, Middlesex University / London School of Theology. [Thesis]

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Evangelicals in North America are divided over their understandings of racism and its history. This divide is evident in the polarized politics of the country and the Black-white binary of its culture. Historically, white Christians had a sordid past of racism, overtly seen in those who participated in Black slavery and white supremacy. As human rights advanced, white oppression transitioned from slavery to segregation and thereafter into new forms of racism in the Prewar, eventually leading to white-flight in the Postwar. In terms of research, little has been done investigating the phenomenon white-flight and how it plays into the aforementioned racially divided ecclesial reality.

American Evangelicalism has largely remained segregated, which historians and social scientists have quantitatively studied. To the historic and social data, this thesis aims to add a new exploratory qualitative study, specifically of white-flight evangelicals in Postwar Los Angeles. To date, a study of this kind has not been published, documenting white Evangelicalism’s boom in the Prewar and its exodus in the Postwar. Methodologically, the project employs an interdisciplinary approach, utilizing a mixed-methods theological analysis for interpreting stories of flight. These oral histories are situated in this thesis within American racial history and theologically examined for purposes of reconstructing a theology of white- flight.

Whilst widely acknowledged that Christians used theology to support and explain the horrors of Black slavery, what is unknown is the theology of white-flight. The contribution this thesis provides for academic research is a helpful framework for researchers, theologians, and ecclesial practitioners in addressing racialized boundaries extant in the church and in urban centers like Los Angeles. Beyond theology, in the field of California studies this project aims to contribute to the state’s religious history and create awareness of the goods theology brings to engagements in the intersections of religion, race, and history.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Sustainable Development Goals:
Research Areas: A. > School of Law
B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > London School of Theology
Item ID: 36604
Depositing User: Lisa Blanshard
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2022 15:37
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 17:40

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