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The New Evangelical Social Engagement$
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Brian Steensland and Philip Goff

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199329533

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199329533.001.0001

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The Rise of the Diversity Expert

The Rise of the Diversity Expert

How American Evangelicals Simultaneously Accentuate and Ignore Race

Chapter:
(p.179) 8 The Rise of the Diversity Expert
Source:
The New Evangelical Social Engagement
Author(s):

Gerardo Marti

Michael O. Emerson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199329533.003.0008

As evangelicals increasingly describe race relations in terms of successful racial integration (the joining of disparate racial and ethnic groups into a common fellowship), a growing number of books, conferences, and workshops are breeding “experts” for stimulating multiethnic/multiracial churches. The increase of awareness is encouraging, but the actual content of such talk is not. Using the platform of successfully diverse congregations and assumptions about how such congregations operate, evangelicals who appear to care most about race relations simultaneously 1) accentuate race and 2) seek to wholly ignore race. Evangelicals accentuate race by pushing forward initiatives as “solutions” to the “problem” of race based on navigating presumed racial differences and promoting racial complementarity. At the same time race is accentuated, evangelicals ignore race by promoting discourses and programs of cross-cultural mission outreach that avoid direct discussion of racial dynamics. Whether accentuating or ignoring race, we find that among evangelical “diversity experts” in the United States—where white-dominance is characteristic of American evangelicalism—non-white exoticism and otherness become opportunities to label racial differences that ultimately reinforce historically-conditioned stereotypes in uncritical ways.

Keywords:   Evangelicals, Race, Diversity, Experts, Congregations

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