This article, the first of two exploring the Brethren in Christ Church’s response to race, racism, and the Civil Right movement, picks up the story in the early 1950s and runs through 1965—that is, after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the 1950s, the Brethren in Christ Church began to develop programs to address America’s “race problem” (e.g., starting new churches in black neighborhoods), but its support for black civil rights was always minimal. Even as the church expressed sympathy for the goals of the Civil Rights Movement, it condemned activist means of protest that, in its view, were overly assertive and threatening to law and order. Committed to the popular evangelical notion that social change is best and most faithfully advanced through the conversion of sinful individuals, and steeped in an Anabaptist view of nonresistance that shrank from coercive political strategies, the Brethren in Christ Church remained a largely silent observer of the most important social movement in 20th-century America.
Weaver-Zercher, David, "Sympathy and Disfavor: The Brethren in Christ Church and Civil Rights, 1950-1965" (2021). Biblical, Religious, & Philosophical Studies Educator Scholarship. 13.