Published online by Cambridge University Press: 11 May 2022
The system of dehumanization through the transatlantic slave trade and chattel slavery drew upon racism as its economic and religious rationale. White Protestants, who predominated among the earliest white settlers, developed their theology and social ethics in a concretized context of Black subjugation. The vast majority of the enslaved, exposed to Protestantism in British North America, never abandoned sensibilities derived from their African religious background. Postbellum and twentieth-century society saw a growth in missions, Social Gospel work, church-building, the Holiness and Pentecostal movements, activism and justice movements, and political involvement among Black Christians – often resisted by white Christians every step of the way. Today’s Black church increasingly identifies with the Black Lives Matter movement and the importance of critical race theory, which posits that racism pervades sacred and secular structures and systems in American society.