The religious inequalities young Kyati Joshi observed as an Indian American girl in Georgia’s genteel surroundings left lasting impressions. She tenders her experiences and insights in her latest offering, White Christian Privilege: The Illusion of Religious Equality in America.
“A pervasive Christian privilege prevails in the United States today.” So Joshi, now an internationally known scholar-activist, begins untangling the threads of White Christian privilege, normativity, and hegemony. Her aim? A “historically informed road map of how Christian privilege developed and has influenced the American experiment from colonial times to the present.” While looking at not only the road behind us but also the road ahead, she aims to provide a “guide” to a more just coexistence. Furthermore, she hopes to call readers to form the type of vision Rev. Dr. M. L. King had to “see the promised land” and “21st-century communities to learn new patterns of thought and behavior.”
Through the theoretical lenses of critical race theory and intersectionality, Joshi strategically blends religious studies, U.S. history, constitutional law, and case law with real-life examples.
In six chapters and just over 200 pages, Joshi shines a light on Christianity's social power to define what is normal, thereby excluding and harming religious minorities. She traces the early formation of an American National identity. Through the lens of social science, echoing many other voices, she sees race and religion woven together to form a White Christian supremacy manifested throughout America’s history: in the doctrine of Manifest Destiny, in immigration policy, in many legal documents, and treaty formation.
Seeing religious freedom and separation of church and state as ideals at best and empty promises at worst, Joshi laments, if we believe these ideals are realities rather than our hopes, then White Christian Supremacy “will remain invisible.”
This book will challenge readers to change long after reading it, and long after the reckless rhetoric in the quadrennial flurry of American politics.
Joshi will appeal to those interested in scholarship and well-crafted arguments. She gives voice to the better angels among us that call all of America to her true ideals, aspirations not yet realized, and dreams of liberty and justice for all. And she will appeal to that cross-section of Christianity with ears to hear that the call to service for all is still the path to true greatness.