Jesus Saved an Ex-Con

My forthcoming book, Jesus Saved an Ex-Con (NYU Press), draws from fieldwork to examine how civil religion facilitates empowering social integration among the formerly incarcerated.

I conducted participant observation semi-structured interviews, at two sites of faith-based community organizing. In Chicago, the Community Renewal Society had incubated the FORCE project, while in Los Angeles, LA Voice and Homeboy Industries formed the Homeboys Local Organizing Committee (LOC).

My book finds that faith-based groups may draw from religious displays to expand the rights of the formerly incarcerated. While CRS/FORCE drew from the historically Black Protestant church's insurgent traditions of civic activism, LA Voice/the Homeboys LOC drew from Catholic pastoral traditions of civic engagement.

CRS/FORCE and LA Voice/the Homeboys LOC drew from religious displays to successfully organize for the passage of state bills and local ordinances regulating the use of employment application (criminal) background checks, as well as incarceration and public funds.