Go deeper on topics related to preserving faith freedom for all with BJC’s book club. Together, we read through one book at a time, setting a goal of certain chapters each week. We’ll have weekly Zoom meetings in small groups to discuss questions based on the reading. At the end of each book club, we’ll invite the author to join us and share additional thoughts and ideas for action as we work to make sure freedom is protected for everyone.
Return to this page in the future for details on our next book club.
Previous book club selection:
OAK FLAT: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West
by Lauren Redniss
October 11-November 1, 2022
In October 2022, the BJC Book Club read and discussed Oak Flat: A Fight for Sacred Land in the American West by Lauren Redniss.
The book tells the story of a race-against-time struggle for a swath of American land, which pits one of the poorest communities in the United States against the federal government and two of the world’s largest mining conglomerates. The book follows the fortunes of two families with profound connections to the contested site: the Nosies, an Apache family whose teenage daughter is an activist and leader in the Oak Flat fight, and the Gorhams, a mining family whose patriarch was a sheriff in the lawless early days of Arizona statehood.
Learn more about the ongoing conflict over the land of Chí’chil Biłdagoteel — loosely translated in English as “Oak Flat” — at BJConline.org/SaveOakFlat.
One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America
by Kevin M. Kruse
May 3 – May 27, 2022
In May 2022, the BJC Book Club read and discussed One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America by Kevin M. Kruse.
In this book, Kruse reveals that the idea of “Christian America” is an invention — and a relatively recent one at that. As Kruse argues, the belief that America is fundamentally and formally a Christian nation originated in the 1930s when businessmen enlisted religious activists in their fight against FDR’s New Deal. Corporations from General Motors to Hilton Hotels bankrolled conservative clergymen, encouraging them to attack the New Deal as a program of “pagan statism” that perverted the central principle of Christianity: the sanctity and salvation of the individual.
Provocative and authoritative, One Nation Under God reveals how the unholy alliance of money, religion, and politics created a false origin story that continues to define and divide American politics to this day.
Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery
by Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah
January 11, 2022 – February 1, 2022
In January 2022, the BJC Book Club hosted weekly conversations as we read Unsettling Truths: The Ongoing, Dehumanizing Legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery.
In this book, Mark Charles and Soong-Chan Rah reveal the far-reaching, damaging effects of the “Doctrine of Discovery.” In the fifteenth century, official church edicts gave Christian explorers the right to claim territories they “discovered.” This was institutionalized as an implicit national framework that justifies American triumphalism, white supremacy, and ongoing injustices. The result is that the dominant culture idealizes a history of discovery, opportunity, expansion, and equality, while minority communities have been traumatized by colonization, slavery, segregation, and dehumanization. Healing begins when deeply entrenched beliefs are unsettled. Charles and Rah aim to recover a common memory and shared understanding of where we have been and where we are going. As other nations have instituted truth and reconciliation commissions, so do the authors call our nation and churches to a truth-telling that will expose past injustices and open the door to conciliation and true community.
Preview: Watch a November 2021 conversation with co-author Mark Charles and BJC’s Charles Watson Jr. at this link.
White Christian Privilege: The Illusion of Religious Equality in America
By Dr. Khyati Joshi
July 6 , 2021 – July 27, 2021
In July 2021, the BJC Book Club hosted a weekly conversation on White Christian Privilege: The Illusion of Religious Equality in America. The author, Dr. Kyati Joshi, joined the final session to talk with participants and take their questions.
In this book, Dr. Joshi explores Christian privilege, Christian normativity, and Christian hegemony in this powerful analysis. Her argument is simple: Christianity (particularly the European Protestant strain) has been established as the unacknowledged common culture, not simply religion, of the United States, leading to a situation where anything not white, Western, and Christian is seen as abnormal. Providing something of a whistle-stop tour — rather than an in-depth exploration — Joshi whisks through the development of white Christian privilege in just under two chapters. She explores the effects of the 16th-century papal “The Doctrine of Discovery” that authorized any Christian monarch who “discovers non-Christian lands has a right to claim a superior and paramount title to these lands” and argues it was used to justify the conquest of indigenous people. She also uses National Geographic’s 2018 apology for decades of racist coverage as a jumping-off point to examine contemporary problems in the representation of non-Christian minorities and foreigners.
Faith in American Public Life
By Melissa Rogers
Book reading and discussion: January 5 , 2021 – January 26, 2021
In Faith in American Public Life, Melissa Rogers ― former Special Assistant to President Barack Obama and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships ― explores the role of religion in the public square and focuses on principles that define the relationship between government and religion. While the U.S. Constitution prohibits government-backed religion, it protects the rights of religious individuals and organizations to promote their faith. These twin principles have helped freedom and faith to flourish in the United States.
The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism
By Jemar Tisby
Watch the Facebook Live introduction of the book club with BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler and Director of Education Charles Watson Jr.
The Color of Compromise is both enlightening and compelling, telling a history we either ignore or just don’t know. Equal parts painful and inspirational, it details how the American church has helped create and maintain racist ideas and practices. You will be guided in thinking through concrete solutions for improved race relations and a racially inclusive church.
Preview: Listen to Jemar Tisby on the BJC Podcast series on the dangers of Christian nationalism.