Liberation Theologies in the United States

Liberation Theologies in the United States: An Introduction

Stacey M. Floyd-Thomas
Anthony B. Pinn
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Liberation Theologies in the United States
    Book Description:

    In the nascent United States, religion often functioned as a justifier of oppression. Yet while religious discourse buttressed such oppressive activities as slavery and the destruction of native populations, oppressed communities have also made use of religion to critique and challenge this abuse. As Liberation Theologies in the United States demonstrates, this critical use of religion has often taken the form of liberation theologies, which use primarily Christian principles to address questions of social justice, including racism, poverty, and other types of oppression.Stacey M. Floyd-Thomas and Anthony B. Pinn have brought together a stellar group of liberation theology scholars to provide a synthetic introduction to the historical development, context, theory, and goals of a range of U.S.-born liberation theologies. Chapters cover Black Theology, Womanist Theology, Latino/Hispanic Theology, Latina Theology, Asian American Theology, Asian American Feminist Theology, Native American Theology, Native Feminist Theology, Gay and Lesbian Theology, and Feminist Theology.Contributors: Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Mary McClintock Fulkerson, Nancy Pineda-Madrid, Robert Shore-Goss, Andrea Smith, Andrew Sung Park, George (Tink) Tinker, and Benjamin Valentin.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-2857-4
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    From the initial movement of European explorers forward, the creation of what became the United States entailed the destruction and rearrangement of cultures and worldviews. The United States has always been a contested terrain, forged through often violent and destructive sociopolitical arrangements. Markers of “difference” such as race and gender are embedded in the formation and development of this country. One cannot forget, however, that much of the struggle relating to this development took place within the framework of religious belief and commitment that informed, justified, and shaped the self-understanding of the nation.

    In the nascent United States, religion and...

  5. 1 Black Theology
    (pp. 15-36)

    The history of the United States involves the interplay of religion and political developments at numerous levels. From the religious rationale for the slave trade and the projection of the North American colonies as a “city on a hill,” selected by God for political dominance and economic greatness, through 20th-century appeals to religion by politicians and the political participation of religious figures, the rhetoric of the United States has involved a certain religious ethos and has given some shape to the ethical and moral sensibilities in play during the development of this nation and its self-understanding.

    In the case of...

  6. 2 Womanist Theology
    (pp. 37-60)

    In her sermon titled “Has the Lord Spoken to Moses Only?” Pauli Murray raises critical questions pertinent to the womanist theological project: “Does the future of humanity depend upon how quickly . . . feminine principles can be incorporated into our religious life and thought? Is God calling women to reassert prophetic leadership and ministry before it is too late?”¹ Murray uses the story of Miriam, sister of Moses and Aaron, the first woman identified as blessed by God with the gift of prophecy. Foreshadowing much of the womanist vision, Murray’s invoking of Miriam’s prophetic stance as an example of...

  7. 3 Latina Theology
    (pp. 61-85)

    The significance and contribution of Latina theology becomes clear when read in light of the contentious histories of Latina/os in the Americas. No single historical narrative line exists for Latina/os, as the term serves as an umbrella representing many distinct groups of people, each with their own history (Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, etc.).¹ Frequently, dominant political and economic powers have used religious ideas to bolster their own legitimacy and to provide a veneer of moral righteousness for their ideas. Throughout Latina/o history, this fusion of political power and religious ideas became more poignant during periods of significant transition...

  8. 4 Hispanic/Latino(a) Theology
    (pp. 86-114)

    Even though it has existed alongside other theologies of liberation and alongside other forms of contextual religious discourse since at least 1975, Hispanic or Latino theology still remains unknown or undiscovered by many in the wider arena of theological and religious scholarship.¹ I suppose that this neglect is related to and continues a long history of disrespect toward Latino/as and of their being rendered invisible or insignificant in the United States. However, I suspect that the neglect of Latino/a theology could also be tied to the failure to make a distinction between it and Latin American liberation theology. In other...

  9. 5 Asian American Theology
    (pp. 115-130)

    Asian American life is marked by memory of trauma and discrimination: the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882; the Immigration Act of 1924, including the Asian Exclusion Act; and the Japanese American Internment during World War II. Activism and liberation movements, such as the civil rights movement and the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s, would begin to crack the structures of oppression. However, signs of progress were not indicative of racial harmony among minoritized and marginalized groups. In 1992, as but one example, the Los Angeles South Central eruptions targeted and completely burned down over two thousand Korean American...

  10. 6 Asian American Feminist Theology
    (pp. 131-148)

    Asian American women’s theology is nascent and emerges in the aftermath of Christianity’s involvement in colonialism, which altered the spirit of Asian American women in many ways. This political and cultural configuration made these women deny their own traditions and regard their multireligious traditions and wisdom as demonic. It also devalued their physical appearance and forced them to accept Western notions of “beauty” as superior. Hence, Asian cultural resources have often been written with the gaze of colonialism, “orientalism,” and racism.¹

    Maxine Hong Kingston’s story “No Name Woman” in her bookThe Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood among Ghosts...

  11. 7 Native Feminist Theology
    (pp. 149-167)

    While liberation theologies rooted in diverse communities of color have proliferated, the development of Native liberation theology, particularly Native women’s theology, has been a slow process.¹ Nonetheless, Native women’s perspectives on spirituality and social justice have much to contribute to the field of liberation theology.

    There are a number of reasons for the reluctance of many Native religious scholars to embrace theology. First, theology’s generally traditional emphasis on proscribing proper doctrines and beliefs often runs counter to indigenous spiritual practices. Jace Weaver argues that theology is inconsonant with indigenous worldviews, which hold that systematic study of God is both presumptuous...

  12. 8 American Indian Theology
    (pp. 168-180)

    American Indian peoples became Christian at moments of utter despair and in the face of huge trauma that devastated them.¹ With the ever-present pressures of European colonialism on this continent, they turned to the very religion of their conqueror to find some sort of solace. As European mass murder and terrorism combined with European-generated epidemics took their toll on the aboriginal populations, suddenly the people found themselves with not enough knowledgeable participants to continue the old ceremonies.² One can add to these difficulties U.S. government political pressure on Indian communities to comply with demands for land cessions and reckless resource...

  13. 9 Gay and Lesbian Theologies
    (pp. 181-208)

    Early gay activism¹ targeted the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association—resulting in removal of the diagnosis of homosexuality as a “sociopathic personality disturbance, sexual deviation” in theDiagnosis and Statistical Manual II.² In addition, the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC), the largest LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) organization in the world, and denominational church groups such as Dignity (Catholic) and Integrity (Episcopalian) were born to support gay and lesbian Christians in accepting their sexual orientation, integrating their sexual orientation with their faith practice, and attempting to humanize ecclesial opposition to homosexuality. Just as the “Black is Beautiful” slogan...

  14. 10 Feminist Theology
    (pp. 209-226)

    It was not until 1913 that “feminism” became a frequently used term in the United States. Originating in a French activist group in the 1880s, the label “feminist” migrated to the Americas through Britain. Until then, the activism of North American women had been identified as the “woman movement.” Frequently associated with 19th-century organizing for women’s suffrage, the “woman movement” included a host of other forms of activism, such as the public challenges of the 1848 Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments, which demanded access to all vocations for women and equity in politics and religion.¹ With the term “ feminist”...

  15. About the Contributors
    (pp. 227-230)
  16. Index
    (pp. 231-246)