Exploring Christian Socialism and American Inequality: A Conversation with Princeton’s Heath Carter

By Andy Hale

Socialism—is there a word in American politics that can divide a conversation quicker?

“For many Americans, the very mention of socialism evokes dystopian visions of totalitarian rule and endless breadlines—whether in the old USSR or contemporary Venezuela,” Princeton historian Heath Carter told me on the latest episode of the CBF Podcast.

Carter serves as Associate Professor of American Christianity at Princeton Theological Seminary and is the author of Union Made: Working People and the Rise of Social Christianity in Chicago, The Pew and the Picket Line: Christianity and the American Working Class and the much anticipated forthcoming book On Earth as it is in Heaven: Social Christians and the Fight to End American Inequality, which retells the story of the American social gospel and how some American Christians, including some Baptists, came to see participation in fights against structural inequality as essential to their faith. 

Of course, not all Americans are adversaries of socialism, especially those receiving the benefits of Social Security, Medicare, Medicare and COVID-19 stimulus checks.

But what about Christian Socialism? While white evangelicals in America have historically been some of staunchest opponents of socialism, there is a robust and often-neglected history of Christian socialism as a movement to combat pervasive inequality in American society. Many know the names of social gospel champions like Walter Rauschenbusch and Washington Gladden but what about the other leaders in this grassroots movement for social change and equality in the United States? 

The CBF Podcast aims to bring you conversations with interesting persons and on interesting topics, and Dr. Heath Carter does not disappoint. Be sure to check out our conversation. 

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This podcast episode is brought to you by Fuller Seminary and The Center for Congregational Health.

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Andy Hale created and hosts the podcast of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Hale is the senior pastor of University Baptist Church of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, following eight years as the founding pastor of Mosaic Church of Clayton and five years as CBF’s church start specialist. Follow on Twitter @haleandy

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