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When Does Religious Racial Integration “Count?” A Caution About Seeking Ideal Ethnographic Cases

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If the particular demographics of attenders, their storied backgrounds, and the peculiar aspects of their social and economic circumstances fail to conform to an “ideal scenario” of “ultimate” diversity, we might find ourselves disappointed. This appears to be one of the most important aspects of Richard Pitt's critique. Pitt desires a different “ideal” case for analysis, a church with black leadership and a clear black dominance that successfully integrates whites. Such an analysis is sorely needed, but this does not reflect the dynamics of Oasis nor does it address what has been one of the most pressing questions among scholars of diversity over the past decade. Given that any black-white integration is rare, I would not so easily dismiss the specifics of this case. Indeed, rather than merely reverse the case, I want to radicalize the critique. It is time to more purposefully examine diversity beyond the “racial divide,” and I suggest here several ways we can expand the research agenda on diverse congregations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of SociologyDavidson College

Publication date: 2010-06-01

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