At an Easter dinner gathering in 2016, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove’s teenage son and his grandfather began to butt heads. The topic was the upcoming election and then-candidate Donald Trump. While his conservative, Christian grandfather supported the idea of “Making America Great Again,” his black son questioned whether or not his grandfather understood what that meant. In an attempt to reconcile these worlds Wilson-Hartgrove wrote “Reconstructing the Gospel: Finding Freedom from Slaveholder Religion” (IVP Books/2018).
The book sheds light on the history of the Gospel after the Civil War and how racism was infused into sermons, songs and the culture of Christianity. The book breaks down how hymns like “Amazing Grace” are nothing more than tributes to white supremacy and sermons that justify slave ownership. Host Frank Stasio talks with Wilson-Hartgrove about his examination of Christianity’s racist roots. Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, who penned the book’s forward, joins the conversation to talk about religious reconstruction.