God's Row and America's Religious Landscape

“God’s Row” and America’s Religious Landscape
by Darren Grem

Since we’ve lately been on the topic of the nation’s contemporary religious landscape, I thought I’d broadcast an interesting article from Sunday’s NY Times. According to James Angelos, storefront churches and temples have been popping up with increasing regularity along a two-mile stretch of White Plains Road in the Bronx, changing the borough’s religious environment and possibly affecting its economic well-being. We’ve discussed religious organizations as economic entities before, but this story relates another perspective. Detractors think this area of the borough needs more than spiritual rejuvenation, arguing that the churches and temples along “God’s Row” take up real estate that could better serve the community if zoned for business. Religious leaders disagree, arguing that the economic problems in the area predated the “revival” along White Plains Road.

Regardless, the row over God’s Row hints at some of the broader social and economic ramifications – whether direct or indirect – caused by the various religious restructurings currently occurring across America. Read all about it here.


The Fated Place said…
This phenomenon is quite common. Rudy Busto, Professor of Religion at UCSB, commented to me that in his area of San Francisco this transition has occurred not once, but twice in the last decade or so.

I experienced a similar turning-over in Durham, North Carolina. What had been black evangelical storefront churches transitioned to Hispanic churches.

The real question, as you hint, is who should determine the fate of these locations. The economy of place suggests that if a venture capitalist or business developer believed they could make money in these locations they would have done so. The almighty dollar rules--and religion rakes in the bucks. I think the communities have made their choice, and when they change their mind we'll see another transition.