One of the most distinguishing characteristics of the 1990s in the United States was the level of violence. As particularly ugly examples of this violence, the church burnings of the mid- to late 1990s and the way the nation responded encouraged a search for community at the beginning of a new millennium. Americans were surprised to discover in both religious and secular efforts to aid the victims of church arson that community in the United States was stronger than they had believed—and stronger than the fires themselves would indicate. This chapter discusses how these incidents reveal much not only about the ongoing significance of race in American life but also about religion, politics, economics, class, and civil strife in the Clinton era.
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