The #BlackLivesMatter movement, French secularism, and intersectionality

New reviews from AAR’s Reading Religion on Edward Donalson III’s The #BlackLivesMatter Movement and Stephen M. Davis’s Rise of French Laïcité

The American Academy of Religion’s review pre-print, Reading Religion, has recently published reviews of two exciting Wipf and Stock titles.

The #BlackLivesMatter Movement: Toward an Intersectional Theology (Cascade, 2021)

RR reviewer David Justice writes of The #BlackLivesMatter Movement: “[W]ith this book Donalson has identified important points of intersection between BLM, the Black Church, and Black theology, and moved us closer to a fully liberating theology.” For the full review, visit here.

Edward Donalson III’s book focuses on the implicit theological aspects of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It examines, in conversation with theologians, the movement’s early published tenets in order to determine their implicit God claims. The study, conducted by a Pentecostal bishop, puts Black Liberation, Womanist, and Queer Liberation theologies in conversation with the praxis of the movement. An ecumenical group of Black pastors from across the United States met in an effort to determine the viability of the God claims of the movement in the life of the Black Church. As the research progressed, a new theological expression emerged as the real praxis of the movement; i.e., intersectional theology. This study project concludes with an exposition of the main points of this intersectional theology. 

Donalson currently serves as Senior Pastor of Kingdom Family Worship Center Int’l and is the Presiding Prelate of Freedom Assemblies Worldwide, and the Director of the Doctor of Ministry at the School of Theology and Ministry of Seattle University. He is the current President of the United Ecumenical College of Bishops. Dr. Donalson is also the Bishop of Operations for the P.U.R.E. Ministries International Fellowship Churches and serves both on the King County Juvenile Justice Steering Committee and the City of Kent Community Police Race Relations Taskforce.

Rise of French Laïcité: French Secularism from the Reformation to the Twenty-first Century (Pickwick, 2020)

On Rise of French Laïcité, reviewer Laura Coughlin writes, “Stephen M. Davis’ Rise of French Laïcité: French Secularism from the Reformation to the Twenty-First Century is a well-researched and comprehensive treatment of the way in which the French have come to understand a unique form of secularity enshrined in French law and accepted as a now-natural reality of French culture. The operative term for this secularity is laïcité, which Davis unpacks in a clear, direct, and disciplined historical survey. Any student of modern Western history, particularly those constrained to reading in English, would gain much from Davis’ treatment, solidly sourced from a varied group of mostly French thinkers, both old and new.” Read Couglin’s full review at Reading Religion‘s website.

Author Stephen M. Davis argues in Rise of French Laïcité that Americans are often baffled by France’s general indifference to religion and laws forbidding religious symbols in public schools, full-face veils in public places, and even the interdiction of burkinis on French beaches. An understanding of laicite provides insight in beginning to understand France and its people. Laicite has been described as the complete secularization of institutions as a necessity to prevent a return to the Ancien Regime characterized by the union of church and state. To understand the concept of laicite, one must begin in the sixteenth century with the Protestant Reformation and freedom of conscience recognized by the Edict of Nantes in 1598. This has been called the period of incipient laicite in the toleration of Protestantism. The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 reestablished the union of the throne and altar, which resulted in persecution of the Huguenots who fought for the principle of the freedom of conscience. French laicite presents a specificity in origin, definition, and evolution which led to the official separation of church and state in 1905. The question in the early twentieth century concerned the Roman Catholic Church’s compatibility with democracy. That same question is being asked of Islam in the twenty-first century.

Stephen M. Davis is an elder at Grace Church ( He and his wife Kathy have been engaged in church planting in the US, France, and Romania since 1982. He earned a DMin in Missiology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a PhD in Intercultural Studies from Columbia International University. He is the author of Crossing Cultures: Preparing Strangers for Ministry in Strange Places (Wipf & Stock, 2019) and Urban Church Planting: Journey into a World of Depravity, Density, and Diversity (Resource, 2019).


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