Kathryn Gin Lum is assistant professor of religious studies in collaboration with the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University. She is the author of Damned Nation: Hell in America from the Revolution to Reconstruction (Oxford University Press 2014).
At the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5, President Obama urged humility about “a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith” to the point where we commit atrocities, like slavery and Jim Crow, in the name of Christ. Critics quickly denounced Obama’s comments as un-American, while supporters defended their accuracy. But few have asked why Obama did not also link Christian conviction to the campaign against slavery and racial injustice.