Since OUP's publication in 2000 of Michael Emerson and Christian Smith's groundbreaking study, Divided by Faith (DBF), research on racialized religion has burgeoned in a variety of disciplines in response to and in conversation with DBF. This conversation has moved outside of sociological circles; historians, theologians, and philosophers have also engaged the central tenets of DBF for the purpose of contextualizing, substantiating, and in some cases, contesting the book's findings. In a poll published in January 2012, nearly 70% of evangelical churches professed a desire to be racially and culturally diverse. Currently, only around 8% of them have achieved this multiracial status. To an unprecedented degree, evangelical churches in the United States are trying to overcome the deep racial divides that persist in their congregations. Not surprisingly, many of these evangelicals have turned to DBF for solutions. The essays in Christians and the Color Line complicate the research findings of Emerson and Smith's study and explore new areas of research that have opened in the years since DBF's publication. The book is split into two sections.
The chapters in the first section consider the history of American evangelicalism and race as portrayed in DBF. In the second section the authors pick up where DBF left off, and discuss how American churches could ameliorate the problem of race in their congregations while also identifying problems that can arise from such attempted amelioration.