The Racial Justice Program

A photograph of panelists from the Racial Justice Program's Congressional Briefing, hosted on May 24, 2018

The Racial Justice Program

About the Racial Justice Program

The Racial Justice Program, founded in 2015, engages Racial Justice and Reproductive Justice frameworks in the approach to the work of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project. The Law, Rights, and Religion Project's Racial Justice Program (RJP) is the only project in the country dedicated to examining and addressing the impact of religious liberty law on communities of color.

The Racial Justice Program is directed by Kira Shepherd. To learn more about Kira, and to get in touch with her, check out her profile on the Law, Rights, and Religion Project Staff Page.

What does the Racial Justice Program do?

The Racial Justice Program examines and exposes the power of White Christian Supremacy and its historical roots in anti-Blackness by doing the work of the Law, Rights, and Religion Project with the lenses of Racial Justice and Reproductive Justice.

White Christian supremacy is anchored in the notion that conservative Christianity and mainstream white culture and values are superior to other religious systems and cultural norms. As such, white Christian ideology seeks to supersede democratic values that are grounded in the idea that the U.S. is a diverse and pluralistic society that is committed to equality and liberty.  

Religious exemption laws and policies often disproportionally harm communities of color.

For example, a Law, Rights, and Religion Project report, "Bearing Faith: The Limits of Catholic Health Care for Women of Color," found that Black and Latinx women in many states are more likely than white women to give birth in hospitals that place religious restrictions on reproductive health care. At the same time, laws and policies that disfavor religious minorities—like the Muslim travel ban—are often racialized, targeting both religious and racial minorities.

One of the primary aims of the Racial Justice Program is to illuminate the ways in which the notion of “religious liberty” has been captured by parties with a particular, and narrow, political agenda – something we term "White Christian Supremacy". Advocates of this agenda are loathe to defend the religious liberty rights of non-Christians, and remain insensitive to the ways in which the interests of people of color are left out of - if not harmed by - a concept of religious liberty that privileges the interests of white conservative Christians.

What are some examples of work done by the Racial Justice Program?

A few highlights of work produced by the Racial Justice Program include: