Whose Family Matters?: White Christianity, Black Feminism, and the Family Values Movement

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2021-05

Authors

Nwosa, Danielle

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Abstract

Between the 1960s and the 1980s, national attention on the perceived destruction of the Black family defined the white, middle-class American family as normative. The family values movement between the 1970s and 1990s continued this understanding. However, an analysis of the family values movement with attention to the intersection of race, class, and gender is frequently overlooked. In this thesis, I seek to understand how feminist and womanist theologians engaged with the bible and interpreted gender roles and family, as well as the significance of race to the family values movement.

This thesis integrates race into the discussion on gender roles and family values through the lens of biblical interpretation by predominantly white feminist theology and African-American womanist theology. Womanists’ intersectional understanding of oppression through race, class, and gender serves as the foundation for this inquiry. I analyze how feminist and womanist theologians invoked family and women’s role within it based on their distinct methods of biblical interpretation.

To pursue this underrepresented research on the significance of race within biblical gender roles and family values, I explore the religious basis of white conservative evangelicals’ profamily agenda. I assess the salience of race in constructing the “traditional American family” based on the social and political activism of white conservative evangelicals in the Religious Right. I also show how their criticism of mainstream feminism and feminist theology results in their advocacy for family values. My findings address the importance of intersectionality in determining whose family matters.

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