Michael Leo Owens has produced an eminently engaging analysis of Black Church collaboration with federal, state, and local governmental authorities in New York City in God and Government in the Ghetto: The Politics of Church–State Collaboration in Black America. Owens' book fills a void in the scholarship of the Black Church that has traditionally focused on its limited political role in protest and voter registration. Following the call of Black religious scholars, C. Eric Lincoln and Lawrence Mamiya, Owens examines the realpolitik of community organizing and collective political action in urban Black neighborhoods in the post-Civil Rights era and how Black churches functioned as political brokers in the shaping of public policy and distribution of public resources.

Owens begins with an origin narrative of...

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