Monica L. Mercado
The history of sexuality is a growing area of interest for scholars of religion and race in the North American context. That which is often regarded as a private matter—sex and sexuality—is in fact shaped by larger cultural, economic, political, and religious forces. To study the intersections of sexuality and race in American religious history, then, is to examine the role of belief, as well as formal religious institutions and their spokespeople, in circulating ideas about bodies, sex, marriage, family, morality, and immorality. If religious variety has been one way that scholars have understood the American experiment from the earliest colonial encounters to the present day, this chapter considers moments when sex and sexuality, and the religious thinking that passes judgments on sexual practices, has served to define or highlight racial difference in American history.