The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture

The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 1: Religion

SAMUEL S. HILL Volume Editor
Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 272
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    The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture
    Book Description:

    Evangelical Protestant groups have dominated religious life in the South since the early nineteenth century. Even as the conservative Protestantism typically associated with the South has risen in social and political prominence throughout the United States in recent decades, however, religious culture in the South itself has grown increasingly diverse. The region has seen a surge of immigration from other parts of the United States as well as from Latin America, Asia, and the Middle East, bringing increased visibility to Catholicism, Islam, and Asian religions in the once solidly Protestant Christian South.In this volume ofThe New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, contributors have revised entries from the originalEncyclopediaon topics ranging from religious broadcasting to snake handling and added new entries on such topics as Asian religions, Latino religion, New Age religion, Islam, Native American religion, and social activism. With the contributions of more than 60 authorities in the field--including Paul Harvey, Loyal Jones, Wayne Flynt, and Samuel F. Weber--this volume is an accessibly written, up-to-date reference to religious culture in the American South.

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-1657-5
    Subjects: Religion, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xvi)

    In 1989, years of planning and hard work came to fruition when the University of North Carolina Press joined the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi to publish theEncyclopedia of Southern Culture. While all those involved in writing, reviewing, editing, and producing the volume believed it would be received as a vital contribution to our understanding of the American South, no one could have anticipated fully the widespread acclaim it would receive from reviewers and other commentators. But theEncyclopediawas indeed celebrated, not only by scholars but also by popular audiences with...

    (pp. xvii-xx)

    Scholars have long recognized religion as a key factor in the culture of the American South. Since the early 19th century, evangelical Protestant groups have dominated the region’s religious life. Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians at times, Pentecostal and holiness groups—all have fully or tangentially shared much theology, ritual, and social attitude. Differences in religious behavior and belief among rich and poor, black and white, urban and rural, and men and women have also been notable in defining religion’s role in southern life. Although the nation as a whole was historically more diverse than the South in its religious demography and...

    (pp. 1-20)

    The South’s religious life is distinctive in ways that parallel the region’s general distinctiveness. Its fervently religious people are frequently described as “born again,” their religion as “fundamentalist.” There is some accuracy in the use of these terms. But even they refer to complex concepts. Moreover, they do not do justice to the diversity of the South, which includes the religion of white people, the religion of black people, and the expanding varieties of each.

    Students of religious movements always do well to ask about the intentions of the religious people themselves. What do they believe? What has powerful meaning...

  6. Appalachian Religion
    (pp. 21-24)

    Many Appalachian people have clung to their religious traditions as they have to other beliefs. This devotion has troubled other American Christians, and so mainline denominations sent great numbers of missionaries into the region. Some missionaries felt that the mountaineers had to be saved from themselves and their culture, as well as for God. Many mountain people joined the mission churches, but others went on worshipping as their forebears had.

    Deborah McCauley, inAppalachian Mountain Religion: A History (1995), has questioned the missionary intrusion into the region and has made a convincing argument that the Appalachian religion is an authentic...

  7. Architecture, Church
    (pp. 24-28)

    The earliest southern churches, Roman Catholic missions, dotted the east coast from Florida toVirginia beginning in the 16th century. Although none of these is extant, Roman Catholic missions and chapels built in the 18th century in Texas survive in such places as San Antonio, El Paso, and Goliad. These buildings reflect the then-current styles of Spain, including the elaborate stone carving at San Jose mission, San Antonio, and the Moorish details at St. Francis Espada in San Antonio. The Roman Catholic parish churches of Louisiana, on the other hand, reflect 18th-and 19th-century French classical styles.

    The earliest Anglican churches of...

  8. Asian Religions
    (pp. 28-34)

    In 1965 Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act, which liberalized codes regarding quotas on Asian immigrants. This law eventually affected the entire country, but in the South, a region known for its religious homogeneity and cultural provincialism, the growing numbers of Asian religious groups stand out as striking anomalies. The emergence of these groups also coincided with economic, legal, and industrial gains in the South since World War II. Between the Civil War and the 1960s, southern states were always among those with the lowest immigrant population. With the incremental transformation of an agriculturally based economy to one of...

  9. Black Religion
    (pp. 35-39)

    The religious life of the majority of black southerners originated in both traditional African religions and Anglo-Protestant evangelicalism. The influence of Africa was more muted in the United States than in Latin America, where African-derived theology and ritual were institutionalized in the communities of Brazilian candomblé, Haitian voodoo, and Cuban Santeria. Nevertheless, in the United States, as in Latin America, slaves did transmit to their descendants styles of worship, funeral customs, magical ritual, and medicinal practice based on the religious systems of West and Central African societies.

    Although some slaves in Maryland and Louisiana were baptized as Catholics, most had...

  10. Broadcasting, Religious
    (pp. 39-44)

    Religious broadcasting is as old as broadcasting itself. The first wireless voice transmission was an informal religious broadcast. Beamed from Brant Rock, Mass., on Christmas Eve of 1906 to ships within a several-hundred-mile radius, the program content consisted of Bible readings, a violin solo of “O Holy Night,” and a vocal recording of Handel’s “Largo.”

    When the first regularly scheduled radio programming began at station KDKA in Pittsburgh, regularly scheduled religious programs commenced within two months. Radio broadcasting exploded in the 1920s so that by early 1925 there were more than 600 stations on the air. Just over 10 perent...

  11. Calvinism
    (pp. 44-49)

    Calvinism designates that way of being Christian that has its roots in the life and work of John Calvin (1509-64), the Protestant reformer of Geneva. Its theology is both Catholic and Protestant. It is Catholic in that Calvin reaffirmed the ancient catholic faith, in particular the Apostles’ Creed, the doctrine of the person of Jesus Christ as found in the Nicene Creed and the Chalcedonian Definition, and the doctrine of the Trinity. It is Protestant in that Calvin thought he was continuing the work of Luther. He built on the affirmations of Luther’s writings of 1520: the supreme authority of...

  12. Churches, Country
    (pp. 49-54)

    Southern evangelicals were mainly country folk, not city slickers. The religious movement that gave rise to the “southern church” began in rural camp meeting revivals early in the 19th century and retained a distinctly rural accent straight through the 20th century. Although the South always boasted a fair share of the nation’s “gentlemen theologians”—erudite, well-educated, urban-based ministers—the mainstream of southern evangelicalism tended toward the bivocational, emotional, and rural. It was among lower-class youth who claimed no firm church affiliation that the early camp meetings flourished. And it was their appeared in the 1930s, the movement was quite diverse...

  13. Civil Rights and Religion
    (pp. 54-58)

    The relation of religion and civil rights in the South is as old as southern culture. Black religious experience, forged from oppression, differs from its white counterpart in the South. The oldest black spirituals had political and civil rights overtones embedded in their religious message. “Wade in the Water,” “With My Face to the Rising Sun,” “Shall We Gather at the River,” and many others had to do with meeting, planning, and escaping. Freedom singing has been a key ingredient in the modern civil rights movement, incorporating gospel music in powerful and moving ways. For instance, the nationally known Freedom...

  14. Diversity, Religious
    (pp. 58-62)

    Conventional wisdom holds that the South is a bastion of conservative, evangelical Protestantism—the “Bible Belt” of popular lore. Dominated by the Southern Baptist Convention, the region’s and the nation’s largest Protestant body, and by the United Methodist Church, the South has appeared to be, in sociologist John Shelton Reed’s terms, “since antebellum times, monolithically Protestant.” At the dawn of the 21st century, statistics buttress this claim, with Tennessee and South Carolina, for example, showing more than a quarter of their total population identified with some Baptist or Methodist body.

    At the same time, a vital and vibrant diversity, never...

  15. Ethnic Protestantism
    (pp. 62-65)

    Southern Protestantism arose, almost entirely, from ethnic roots. During the 18th century nearly a million immigrants entered the southern backcountry—the majority of them of Germanic or Celtic ancestry—as well as numerous Pennsylvania Quakers who formed a special English subcultural, if not ethnic, community. Highland Scots also entered the region through Wilmington and settled the upper Cape Fear Valley in North Carolina, and Salzbergers and Huguenots did so through the ports of Savannah and Charleston, respectively. Non-English immigration into the backcountry profoundly shaped the culture of the entire region. In the late 18th century, Presbyterians emerged as the elite...

  16. Folk Religion
    (pp. 65-69)

    Leading scholar of American folk religion William M. Clements defines it as “unofficial religion,” the spiritual experience that exists separate from, but alongside, the theological and liturgical religion of the mainline established churches. Clements has identified 10 traits of the folk church: “general orientation toward the past, scriptural literalism, consciousness of Providence, emphasis on evangelism, informality, emotionalism, moral rigorism, sectarianism, egalitarianism, and relative isolation of physical facilities.”

    Folk religious events include Sunday school classes, vacation Bible school meetings in the summer, Bible study gatherings, covered-dish suppers, singing services, devotional hours, and all-day services with dinner on the grounds. The church...

  17. Frontier Religion
    (pp. 69-73)

    Three primary phases of southern frontier experience occurred—(1) the colonial frontier; (2) the initial trans-Appalachian frontier; and (3) the frontier created by Indian removals. In each period, the religious life of the Southwest was distinct and in certain respects unique in the nation.

    After the first century of southern colonial settlement, which amounted to a frontier experience for Europeans, the southern colonial frontier consisted of the western Piedmont and the Great Valley. Settlement of the valley began in earnest in the 1730s, with the massive migration of Scots-Irish and German settlers, who were attracted by the cheap and plentiful...

  18. Fundamentalism
    (pp. 73-79)

    The Fundamentalist movement, as distinct from fundamentalism as a theological orientation, appeared around 1900 among conservative northern Protestants concerned about the development of liberal theology, the social gospel, Darwinian evolution, and secular trends in American culture. With the exception of concerns about the promotion of Darwinian evolution, these trends were largely quiescent in the South until after World War II. The movement made limited progress in the South prior to midcentury because of southern evangelicalism’s conservatism. When the social, intellectual, and cultural upheavals that kindled the northern movement began to alter southern culture in the postwar decades, southern evangelicals believed...

  19. Islam
    (pp. 79-81)

    Muslims have spread throughout the South, becoming a part of the religious landscape of many southern cities as well as influencing rural areas. Muslim immigrants and African American Muslims have organized mosques in cities of various sizes, ranging from Biloxi, Miss., to Richmond, Va., establishing sites for communal prayers, religious schools, and community services. In smaller towns where only a few Muslims reside, families often gather in homes to celebrate Islamic festivals.

    The history of Islam in the South extends from at least the 18th century, as some of the Africans brought to the South were Muslim. Omar bin Said,...

  20. Jewish Religious Life
    (pp. 81-85)

    Jewish religious identity in the South is complicated and defies easy categorizations. The different Jewish immigrant groups that arrived from the colonial era through the 20th century brought with them diverse customs, traditions, and belief patterns, creating different American southern Judaisms. These religious ideologies and practices were modified by region, surrounding populations, a constant influx of Jewish immigrants and transplants, and, perhaps most important, changing religious ideologies taking place in the larger South.

    The first Jews in the South came between 1654 and 1820 and were of Sephardic and Ashkenazic origin. They hailed from Portugal, England, Jamaica, Holland, Curaçao, Brazil,...

  21. Latino Religion
    (pp. 85-89)

    Specific forms of Latino Catholicism have a long historical trajectory in the geographic extremes of the South, but in the past decade, Latino religion has become increasingly pervasive and varied throughout the region. Tejano (Mexican Texan) religion dates from Mexico’s ceding of Texas to the United States, which was completed with the Compromise of 1850. In the late 19th century, mestizos in the region, whose indigenous ancestors had been evangelized by Franciscans during Spanish military expeditions, identified as Catholic but had tenuous ties to the institutional church. As the U.S. Catholic Church assumed ecclesiastical control of the region, many factors...

  22. Literature and Religion
    (pp. 89-94)

    Religion has influenced the imagination of southern writers in fundamental ways. Both aesthetically and thematically, religious practice in the region has helped writers render a particular place and time as a target for their satire and as a prism through which they interpret human experience. Often southern writers’ debts to the religious beliefs and practices of their region are unacknowledged, perhaps even unconscious. William Faulkner asserts such influences exist, nonetheless: “The writer must write about his background. He must write out of what he knows and the Christian legend is part of any Christian’s background, especially the background of a...

  23. Missionary Activities
    (pp. 94-97)

    Religious revivalism swept the South in the early days of the Republic and brought with it an intense belief in the millennium—the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth that would commence when all peoples of the world had been given a chance to accept Christ. By natural extension foreign missions joined domestic missions to Native Americans in the effort to carry out the Great Commission: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them . . . ; [and] teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:19–20). Richard Furman, pastor of the First...

  24. Modernism and Religion
    (pp. 97-100)

    In American religious studies the term “modernism” describes a style of Christian theology that attempted to adjust traditional religious doctrines to the intellectual demands of the modern world, especially to biological evolution and historical-critical study of Scripture. Although the term is often used to describe the beliefs of all who make such adjustments, it is usually reserved for the liberal theology of the early 20th century (1920–40) .

    Modernism has not been a significant position among southern theologians. The predominant southern orientation has been theological orthodoxy. Even before the Civil War, southern theologians, especially in the culturally influential Presbyterian...

  25. Native American Religion
    (pp. 100-104)

    For millennia, religious practices enabled Native Americans in the Southeast to maintain or restore vital balances disrupted by human action or the actions of other living beings. Across the Southeast, Native Americans perceived spiritual values and meanings in a wide range of activities, events, and phenomena. They found holiness in a comet’s sweep across the sky, the earth’s rumbling in a quake, turbulence in a river, and the flight of a bird. Their dreams foretold the future, warning of impending sickness and death or, more auspiciously, a successful hunt. Their systems of belief and morality shaped how they understood weather,...

  26. New Age Religion
    (pp. 104-106)

    The term “New Age” suggests a broad and open spirituality connected to notions of unity between spirit and body. No institution, church organization, or governing board claims authority over New Age religion and its many meanings, so definitions of the term vary widely. The term comes from 1960s Britain, where groups dissatisfied with institutional religion and seeking more meaningful forms of spirituality and a wider range of forms of worship developed new or reinterpreted forms of religious practice and belief. The term “New Age” proved especially attractive in and since the 1960s to American Baby Boomers, who felt a great...

  27. Pentecostalism
    (pp. 107-110)

    American Pentecostalism comprises many diverse organizations, some of which are predominantly southern in both membership and influence. Much of the drama of early Pentecostal history occurred in the South, among the socially disinherited whose yearnings for spiritual perfection and otherworldly ecstasy had made them participants in the Holiness movements that had swept the region intermittently for decades.

    Pentecostalism became a definable movement after 1901 when a consensus on the evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit emerged among the followers of Charles Parham, a Kansas Holiness preacher. The simple assertion that glossolalia (or speaking in tongues) was always the...

  28. Politics and Religion
    (pp. 111-114)

    To the extent that there has ever been any truth to the term “Solid South,” it has come from the distinctive relationship between religion and politics that has been a defining feature of the region. Pervasively Protestant, dominated from early times by evangelical groups, southern religion has tended strongly toward tradition and orthodoxy, being more biblical in belief, more emotional in practice, and more moralistic in its attitudes about the world than religion in other parts of the country. Over the past century, this conservative religion has contributed to the conservative politics of the region, as an alliance between evangelical...

  29. Preacher, Black Folk
    (pp. 114-118)

    During the Great Awakening of 1800 and for years after, many itinerant preachers found that their listeners for religious services often numbered in the thousands. To accommodate such large congregations, the camp meeting was institutionalized. These large-scale worship services were especially successful in the border states of Kentucky and Tennessee, where many clergymen from the North traveled. This new form of divine worship, sometimes attracting as many as 20,000 or more at events such as the one held at Cane Ridge, Ky., included black as well as white worshippers. Although this form of worship never caught on in the Northeast,...

  30. Preacher, White
    (pp. 118-121)

    White southern religion, once considered a monolithic, unidimensional structure, is now recognized as diverse and filled with ambiguities. Previously accepted stereotypes have been challenged by recent scholarship, which points out the diversity of southern culture in general and of southern religion in particular. Accordingly, the tendency to categorize all southern preachers as overzealous evangelists espousing a fiery brand of fundamentalism must be called into question as well. Ministers of southern white Protestant churches have been represented among the ranks of the theological elite, multimedia practitioners of the gospel, and country parsons alike. There are as many images as there are...

  31. Protestantism
    (pp. 121-125)

    Southern Protestantism and southern culture are as inseparable as bourbon and fruitcake. The South stands out both as a discernible cultural entity and as an equally unique religious region. Indeed, it is the most religious and Protestant area of an extraordinarily religious nation. Southerners tend to be more active in religious organizations and more orthodox in measurable belief than any of their fellow citizens. Evangelical Protestants often make up 80 to 90 percent of the “churched” population, and most call themselves Baptists and Methodists. Yet there is also great diversity—independent churches, all the major organized denominations, a rapidly growing...

  32. Restorationist Christianity
    (pp. 126-132)

    This style of Christianity that self-consciously seeks to ignore historical Christian forms and traditions and to reproduce primitive Christianity has flourished in the American South, but it is not unique to the South. Restorationism has deep roots in British Protestantism and appeared with particular vitality in the left wing of that heritage, especially among the Puritans, Baptists, Quakers, and, later, the early Methodists. Thus, restorationist traditions that persist in America today—in addition to the modern heirs of the Swiss and German Anabaptists—include Mormons, various types of Baptists, various Holiness and Pentecostal groups, Christian Churches, and Churches of Christ....

  33. Revivalism
    (pp. 132-135)

    This phenomenon is characterized by an emphasis in religion on a renewal of interest in belief and practice, marked by the conversion of new members and the rededication of existing members to the church. In the South revivalism has set the dominant tone for Protestant Christianity since the early 19th century, informing the main religious concerns of mainstream denominations and smaller organizations alike.

    Southern revivalism has occurred at two levels. One is composed of the spectacular general awakenings of society, which at several periods of the region’s history have brought significant numbers of people into connection with various southern denominations....

  34. Roman Catholicism
    (pp. 135-139)

    From the first Catholic settlers in colonial Maryland to the recent influx of Spanish-speaking and Asian Catholics, “southern” Catholics have traditionally occupied an ambivalent place in the region as they struggled to balance a universal faith with their own peculiar ethnoreligious differences in a social environment that often has been hostile toward them. After the American Revolution the American Catholic Church, composed of roughly 35,000 native Catholics located largely in Maryland, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania and under the leadership of John Carroll, the first American bishop (1790), had sought social and cultural assimilation into American life. By the mid-19th century, however,...

  35. Social Activism
    (pp. 139-143)

    “Social activism” is hardly the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of religion in the South. Historically, most southern Christians have emphasized obedience to the powers that be, political quietism and conservatism, personal (as opposed to social) morality, and a suspicion of social activism as a distraction from the real business of saving souls for eternal life. Presbyterian theologians historically defended the venerable doctrine of the “spirituality of the church”, and most southern churches—especially white churches but often black churches as well—advised political quietism, insisting that rewards would come in heaven above for those who lived...

  36. Spirituality
    (pp. 143-147)

    Observers of the contemporary South can see as many “spiritualities” and definitions of the term “spirituality” as there are individual seekers. For many, the term “spirituality,” in its broadest sense, denotes “the simple life, well lived.” Recently one grandmother, teaching a faith formation class in Kernersville, N.C., drawing on the rich background of her Irish Catholic tradition, summarized the spiritual journey for her teenage students in these words: “There are only two things worth doing in life: to know the truth and to be in love.” The rest of their study time together was a commentary on her understanding of...

  37. Sports and Religion
    (pp. 147-151)

    Although the devotion of southerners to sports is frequently identified with football in Texas and Alabama, basketball in Kentucky, NASCAR in the Carolinas, and baseball’s spring training in Florida, the popularity of these sports developed in the 20th century. Before the Civil War, however, the most popular sports in the South were cockfighting, card playing, hunting and fishing, horse racing, and prize fighting. Because of their association with gambling, most of these sports faced strong moral condemnation from southern ministers and churchwomen. In Georgia before midcentury, Jesse Mercer, editor of theChristian Index, urged Baptists and Methodists in Particular to...

  38. Theological Orthodoxy
    (pp. 152-155)

    The term “orthodoxy,” meaning right belief, has functioned in southern religion mainly as a polemical self-designation. While numerous groups have claimed to be orthodox, often as a way of contrasting themselves to groups presumed unorthodox, the term has never had a uniform meaning.

    In the South, the term has most often been used by Protestants to designate belief in the infallibility of the Bible, the biblical miracles, the divinity of Christ, and the doctrine that Christ’s death on the cross satisfied the conditions for eternal salvation in a heavenly afterlife for the faithful. For 19th-century southern Catholics, however, orthodoxy required...

  39. Urban Religion
    (pp. 155-160)

    Cities have served the South as religious centers and as sites of religious diversity. Along the South’s periphery, in such cities as Baltimore, Miami, New Orleans, and El Paso, Roman Catholics constitute a majority of those people with religious affiliations. Although Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Disciples of Christ collectively account for most church members in interior cities, Episcopalians and Lutherans as well as Catholics and Jews constitute notable minorities. Usually worshipping in biracial or separate churches in the antebellum period, African Americans increasingly established their own denominational structures after the Civil War and created mostly Baptist and Methodist congregations. Less...

  40. Women and Religion
    (pp. 160-164)

    Three factors help explain the place of women in religious movements and institutions in the American South. The first is the overwhelming dominance of evangelical Protestantism among whites since the turn of the 19th century and among blacks since emancipation. Second, the white South is more ethnically homogeneous than other regions. Third, the South has been slower to abandon the traditional family structure, which is reflected in the patriarchal nature of all southern institutions.

    The distinctive religious history of the South began with the two Great Awakenings. Although the revivals of the mid-18th century had some small impact on the...

  41. Zion, South as
    (pp. 164-168)

    The 17th century saw the crumbling of the old feudal and manorial systems that had dominated the geographic and economic landscape of Europe and had held the landless peasant in virtual bondage, but the modern institutions that replaced the old systems did little to elevate the least elements of the general populace. Capitalism was more beneficial to the neophyte capitalists than to the laborers; population pressures, worn-out soil, and problems associated with the displacement abounded; unsatisfactory religious conditions paralleled economic woes. Princes in central Europe demanded that their subjects adhere to the religion of their political leaders, and religious dissent...

  42. African Methodist Episcopal Churches
    (pp. 169-170)

    The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AME Zion) Church have never been distinctively “southern” churches, but they have been two of the most popular and powerful religious denominations among southern blacks. Both groups originated in northern cities—Philadelphia and New York City, respectively—in the late 18th century. Blacks were among early converts to Methodism in North America, but segregated church services and discrimination in the ritual of communion led to the withdrawal of black Methodists. Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, and William White were early founders of the AME Church, while William Brown, Francis...

  43. Asbury, Francis
    (pp. 170-171)

    (1745–1816) MINISTER.

    Francis Asbury was born four miles from Birmingham, England, 20 or 21 August 1745. As early as age 15, he began to preach, and in 1766 he became one of John Wesley’s traveling ministers in the ‘‘Methodist’’ connection. Five years later he volunteered to become a Wesleyan missionary to the colonies. There the greatest interest in the evangelical movement existed in the South, where Asbury took charge of the Baltimore district in 1773. As the only missionary to remain during the Revolution, he become superintendent of the evangelical enterprise through-out the Revolution he began to attract the...

  44. Bible Belt
    (pp. 171-172)

    “Bible Belt” is a term coined by H.L. Mencken in the 1920s to describe areas of the nation dominated by belief in the literal authenticity of the Bible and accompanying puritanical mores. He did not give the term a specific location, but he did associate it with rural areas of the Midwest and, especially, the “Baptist backwaters of the South.” He used the term as one of derision, referring, for example, to “the Bible and Hookworm Belt” and calling Jackson, Miss., “the heart of the Bible and Lynching Belt.”

    The term has been used by scholars as well. In mapping...

  45. Blue Laws
    (pp. 172-173)

    Considered reverential by some, overly puritanical by others, blue laws, or Sunday closing laws, exist in most of the southern states. Based on an English statute passed in 1678 during the reign of Charles II and carried piously into the colonies, blue laws prohibit worldly business and diversion—except when deemed necessary or charitable—on the traditional day of rest.

    The term “blue laws” comes from the blue paper used in binding the Massachusetts statutes on moral behavior in the 1960s. The first American colonial law regulating Sabbath activities was passed in Virginia in 1610, requiring Sunday church attendance, and...

  46. Campbell, Alexander (1788–1866) MINISTER.
    (pp. 173-174)

    Campbell was a major figure in a religious movement that came into being on the American frontier in the early 19th century and continues to thrive in the modern South. Its purpose was to restore the unity of the church on the basis of the Scriptures. Campbell, Thomas Campbell (his father), Barton W. Stone, and Walter Scott were the founders of a movement whose congregations today call themselves Churches of Christ, Christian Churches, and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The movement had great appeal to individuals in Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

    Campbell was born in...

  47. Campbell, Will D. (b. 1924) MINISTER, WRITER, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST.
    (pp. 174-176)

    In December 2000 when Will D. Campbell received the National Medal for the Humanities, President Clinton referenced the New Testament in his introduction: “Scripture says ‘be doers of the word and not hearers only’; Will Campbell is a doer of the word.”

    Campbell’s life bears ample testimony. Born 18 July 1924 in the piney woods of southwestern Mississippi, Campbell spent his early life centered on family and faith. The primordial forces of blood, spirit, and water brought Campbell into the fold of Christian faith at seven and into the gospel ministry at sixteen.

    Louisiana College was Campbell’s introduction to the...

  48. Camps and Retreats
    (pp. 177-178)

    Each of the South’s three largest denominations—Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian—maintains some kind of camp or conference center in the mountains of western North Carolina. The Presbyterians operate the Montreat Conference Center, the Methodists support Lake Junaluska, and the Southern Baptists have Ridgecrest Assembly.

    The South was relatively slow to start special church camps. The builders of one of the first camps, Montreat in North Carolina (1807), were northern religious leaders who modeled the new camp on the Ocean Grove retreat in New Jersey. Beginning in the 1920s and 1930s, many southern church groups first started camping in state...

  49. Cannon, James, Jr. (1864–1944) MINISTER.
    (pp. 178-179)

    Cannon entered the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, after a religious conversion experienced while attending Randolph-Macon College. He received training at Princeton Theological Seminary and was given his first charge in 1888 in the Virginia Conference.

    Cannon’s multifaceted career included educational, editorial, and interdenominational work. He twice served as principal of Blackstone Female Institute in Virginia, substantially adding to that school’s funding and enrollment. As the first superintendent of the Junaluska Methodist Assembly in North Carolina, he further demonstrated his administrative talents.

    From the beginning of his ministry Cannon was active in ecclesiastical affairs and participated in the...

  50. Christian Broadcasting Network
    (pp. 179-180)

    The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) was founded in 1960 by M. G. (Pat) Robertson and began broadcasting from one-kilowatt station WYAH-TV in Portsmouth, Va., on 1 October 1961. From this modest beginning, CBN grew by the early 1980s to become the largest religious broadcaster and the fourth largest cable network in the United States. In 1984 its programs appeared by syndication on approximately 200 television stations in the United States and on CBN Cable Network transmitted via satellite to more than 4,000 cable systems. The Christian Broadcasting Network owns and operates television stations in three major markets and has 80...

  51. Dabbs, James McBride (1896–1970) MINISTER, WRITER, AND REFORMER
    (pp. 181-182)

    Dabbs was born in 1896 in Sumter County, S.C. He died there in 1970. In the course of his life he was a teacher, a farmer, a poet and essayist, and a symbol of both the past and future. Educated at the University of South Carolina, Clark University (Massachusetts), and Columbia University, he taught English at the University of South Carolina (1921–24) and Coker College (1925–37) . In 1937 he returned to the family home, where he farmed with an intensity unknown to the academics of the time, who extolled the virtues of the agrarian way but remained...

  52. England, John (1786–1842) ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP.
    (pp. 182-183)

    Born in Cork, Ireland, John England won fame there as a preacher, writer, editor, and political agitator against the proposal to allow the British king a veto in the selection of Catholic bishops. When he came to the United States in 1820, he found in his diocese 5,000 Catholics scattered over 140,000 square miles. Most were Irish immigrants or refugees from revolution in Santo Domingo. He had responsibility for Catholics in Georgia and the Carolinas from 1820 to 1824.

    England was an active bishop, establishing congregations headed by catechists in the three southern states, where priests visited periodically to say...

  53. Falwell, Jerry (b. 1933) MINISTER.
    (pp. 183-184)

    Born on 11 August 1933 in Lynchburg, Va., Jerry Falwell is the son of a successful businessman and a pious Baptist mother. Falwell did not regularly attend church as a youth, but on Sunday mornings his mother turned on a radio broadcast called theOld Fashioned Revival Hour, a pioneering religious broadcast from southern California. His born-again conversion occurred at a Lynchburg Baptist church on 20 January 1952. Two months later, after intensive study of the Bible, he decided to become a minister. Falwell entered Lynchburg College in 1950 as an engineering student, but after his conversion experience he transferred...

  54. Fatalism
    (pp. 184-185)

    There is an outlook distinctive to the South in which history is viewed as having a predestined outcome. This dark outlook has shaped southern social institutions, literature, and politics, and it has inhibited social reform. In such a view, time and history are not the arena of grand visions and idealistic reconstruction à la Thoreau and Emerson. Rather, as Faulkner had Quentin Compson’s grandfather say while giving him his pocket watch inThe Sound and the Fury, time is “the mausoleum of all hope and desire.” The battles with time “are not even fought. The field only reveals to man...

  55. Graham, Billy (b. 1918) EVANGELIST.
    (pp. 185-187)

    Born 7 November 1918 near Charlotte, N.C., William Franklin Graham Jr. was the firstborn of a fundamentalist Presbyterian couple. His rise to national fame as an evangelist came during the prime of McCarthyism and the early fear of atomic warfare. Graham exploited these two sensations by proclaiming a brand of Christian Americanism that promised to give the United States victory over both internal subversion and external Soviet threat. He perceived the United States as the chosen nation after the order of ancient Israel, with himself as Jehovah’s Right of the 1980s are found in Graham’s early preaching. He denounced the...

  56. Great Revival
    (pp. 187-188)

    This series of religious revivals that swept across the southern states between 1800 and 1805 is sometimes called the Second Great Awakening in the South. The movement was more accurately the South’s first great awakening. It changed the religious landscape of the region, ensuring a Protestant evangelical dominance that continues today.

    Small outbreaks of intense religious activity had occurred previously in the South, but these earlier small revivals had been confined to specific locales and to one denomination. Examples of these were the Presbyterian revival centered in Hanover County, Va., in the 1740s, the Separate Baptist revival beginning in North...

  57. Hays, Brooks (1898–1981) POLITICION AND RELIGIOUS LEADER.
    (pp. 188-189)

    Brooks Hays personified, during his more than 50 years in public service, the Christian layperson in politics. Born 9 August 1898 near Russellville, Ark., to Sallie Butler and Steele Hays, he graduated from the University of Arkansas (B.A., 1919) and George Washington University (LL.D., 1922). After serving in World War I, he married in 1922, the year he was admitted to the bar.

    Hays was an assistant attorney general of Arkansas and twice an unsuccessful reform candidate for governor of that state and once for Congress before he went to Washington as an attorney for the U.S. Department of Agriculture...

  58. King, Martin Luther, Jr. (1929–1968) MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, SOCIAL ACTIVIST.
    (pp. 189-191)

    Martin Luther King Jr. was a clergyman, intellectual, and civil leader with deep roots in southern black Baptist Protestantism. The son, grandson, and great- grandson of Baptist preachers, he was born in Atlanta, Ga., on 15 January 1929 and was exposed throughout his youth to the restrictions of Jim Crow. While a student at Atlanta’s Morehouse College (B.A., 1948), he fell under the influence of black preacher-intellectuals such as Benjamin E. Mays and George D. Kelsey, and he himself chose a career in ministry. He then studied liberal Christian ethics at Crozer Theological Seminary (B.D., 1951) in Chester, Penn., and...

  59. Merton, Thomas (1915–1968) RELIGIOUS FIGURE AND WRITER.
    (pp. 191-192)

    Thomas Merton was born in Prades, France, the son of Owen Merton, a New Zealand painter, and Ruth Jenkins Merton, an American artist. Merton settled in the United States in 1935 to study at Columbia University after a tumultuous youth on the Continent and in England, where he studied after the death of his parents. Converted to the Catholic Church while at Columbia, he entered the Cistercian (Trappist) monastery of Our Lady of Gethsemani near Bardstown, Ky., in 1941. His spiritual autobiography,The Seven Storey Mountain(1948), was an immense success. He followed that work with a torrent of books,...

  60. Methodist Episcopal Church, South
    (pp. 192-194)

    Methodists first entered the South in the 1760s, and by the 1780s most American Methodists were concentrated there. The movement grew dramatically after the revivals of the early 1800s. The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, existed from 1845 until 1939, with most of its membership in the southern states, but with a few churches in the border states and in the West. The precipitating cause of its formation was the slave ownership of one of the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church, James O. Andrews, an involvement that led to the division of the church into predominantly northern and southern parts....

  61. Moon, Charlotte Digges “Lottie” (1840–1912) SOUTHERN BAPTIST MISSIONARY.
    (pp. 194-195)

    For four decades Lottie Moon was a pioneer China missionary of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Her life is skillfully celebrated by denominational literature, which has described her as the most famous individual in Southern Baptist history, as well as the human symbol of her church’s ongoing commitment to overseas missionary work.

    Growing up on a plantation near Charlottesville, Va., Lottie Moon developed marked interests in religion and in the study of foreign language and cultures. Following the Civil War she taught school in Kentucky and Georgia until 1873, when deepening spiritual concerns led her to enter missionary service. From...

  62. Moral Majority
    (pp. 195-197)

    The Moral Majority was an educational, lobbying, and fund-raising organization dedicated to conservative Christian causes. Founded in 1979 with the assistance of “New Right” leaders, the Moral Majority was led by Jerry Falwell, pastor of the 18,000-member Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va.

    Nationally, Moral Majority maintained a legislative office near the Capitol in Washington, D.C., monitored legislation, issued regular appeals to its members for political action through letter writing, lobbied Congress on behalf of specific legislation, and published theMoral Majority Report,a small monthly newspaper. Legally, Moral Majority was composed of three separate organizations: Moral Majority, a...

  63. Moravians
    (pp. 197-198)

    The Moravians are a Protestant religious group, known also as the Unitas Fratrum, that was founded in the 15th century by followers of John Hus, a Bohemian reformer and martyr. The movement spread to America, and today the headquarters of the Southern Province of the Moravian Church in America are located in Winston-Salem, N.C. Although not representative of predominant southern religious evangelicalism, the Moravians have contributed a distinctive history and aesthetic tradition to the South’s culture.

    To serve as missionaries to the American Indians, as well as to escape German intolerance of their beliefs, a small group of Moravians left...

  64. National Baptists
    (pp. 198-199)

    The National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc., the unincorporated National Baptist Convention of America, and the Progressive National Baptist Convention have a combined membership of 12 million people in more than 50,000 congregations and together form a historical tradition that has dominated southern black Baptist life since the late 19th century. Black Baptists had worshipped in independent congregations and as part of biracial churches before the Civil War, but emancipation quickly brought the establishment of separate black denominations.

    From 1865 to 1895 black Baptists worked to achieve a separate religious identity. The Consolidated American Baptist Missionary Convention tried unsuccessfully to unify...

  65. O’Connor and Religion
    (pp. 199-200)

    Flannery O’Connor’s contribution to the literature of the English-speaking world is widely known. Equally important is her contribution to the knowledge of religion in the South and to contemporary understanding of the Christian faith grounded in southern experience. As a native of Georgia, she knew intimately the dominant Protestant faith of the area and was especially fascinated by the untutored practices and convictions of backwoods religious folk. She often found their religious convictions skewed and desperate and their practice crude; yet she found among them, by her own accounting, a surprising pattern of true Christianity that encompassed the pattern of...

  66. Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS)
    (pp. 200-203)

    Initially known as the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America (PCCSA), the denomination originated as a result of the Civil War. It was organized at Augusta, Ga., in 1861 and remained separated from the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA) until 1983, when it reunited with the parent body, which had become the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (UPCUSA). The PCUS thus no longer has a separate existence, but it was an institutional embodiment of a distinctly regional religious identity. The PCCSA supported slavery and secession, and it continued to exist...

  67. Prohibition
    (pp. 203-204)

    Although closely identified with the southern ethos in the 20th century, the movement to limit the sale and use of alcoholic beverages has never been an exclusively southern endeavor. The first areas touched by this effort were in the East and Midwest in the antebellum period. Prohibition, as an ideal, originated in the voluntarism of the early temperance movement. After the Civil War more advocates adopted the policy of abstinence, or “teetotalism,” and followed the legislative example of the state of Maine. Such groups as the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the Anti-Saloon League of America organized for the fight....

  68. Protestant Episcopal Church
    (pp. 204-206)

    The earliest English settlers at Jamestown brought their Anglican religion with them. With the American Revolution, though, the Church of England became the Episcopal Church and lost its position as the established church of the South. The recovery of the Episcopal Church in the South from its near extinction after the Revolution was brought about through the work of strong leaders, many of them southerners, such as Richard Channing Moore, the second bishop of Virginia, who was a New Yorker, and the second and third bishops of South Carolina, Theodore Dehon and Nathaniel Bowen, who were New Englanders. Stark Ravenscroft,...

  69. Roberts, Oral (b. 1918) MINISTER.
    (pp. 206-209)

    Oral Roberts was born in 1918 in Pontotoc County, Okla., the son of Ellis Melvin Roberts and Claudius Irwin. His father, a minister in the Pentecostal Holiness Church, spent most of his life pastoring small churches in the South. Oral Roberts received the Pentecostal baptism of the Holy Spirit in 1936 and joined his father in the ministry.

    A defining spiritual crisis in Roberts’s early life occurred in July 1935, when he experienced what he believed was a miraculous healing from tuberculosis and stuttering during a tent meeting in Ada, Okla. Roberts believed that after his healing God called him...

  70. Sacred Places
    (pp. 209-211)

    Does the religious life of the South, centering in evangelical Protestantism, really acknowledge specific sites to which some kind of sacred significance is attached? Not so, of course, if the question assumes a classic catholic frame of reference. In several other respects, however, it does. In the South, the dominance of center to left-wing Protestantism dictates the particular terms on which certain places are recognized as very special, even sacred.

    Sacred places fall into four categories (examples are given below). The first is places where denominations had their American start or where momentous events have occurred in their history. The...

  71. Serpent Handlers
    (pp. 211-212)

    These religious people are members of various independent Pentecostal Holiness churches who interpret Mark 16:18 (‘‘They shall take up serpents’’) as an injunction to use poisonous snakes in religious services. At least two nights every week they gather in their one-room frame houses of worship and, to the accompaniment of loud rhythmic music, handle rattlesnakes, copperheads, and other venomous snakes with complete abandon. Sometimes they place the snakes on top of their head, wrap them around their neck, tread on them with bare feet, or toss them to other worshippers. Bites are surprisingly infrequent and are generally seen as evidence...

  72. Shakers
    (pp. 212-214)

    The people who took the name of United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing began as a dissenting group among English Quakers. Mother Ann Lee and her followers came to America and founded a settlement in New York in 1774. The Shakers—short for “shaking Quakers”—received their name from the spiritually ecstatic, frenetic whirling and dancing of their religious meetings. They founded the agricultural community of Pleasant Hill in the bluegrass country of Kentucky in 1805 and the South Union community soon after near the Tennessee border with Kentucky. Shaker settlements believed in equality among blacks and whites,...

  73. Southern Baptist Convention
    (pp. 214-216)

    No other major denomination has shaped white southern religion and culture as powerfully or as long as has the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Organized in 1845 as a result of disagreement with northern Baptists over slavery and sectionalism, the SBC became the official “established” church of the South and America’s largest Protestant denomination. While retaining a traditional Baptist emphasis on local church autonomy, freedom of conscience, and individualistic conversion, the SBC united a fiercely independent constituency around southern culture, denominational programs, and missional zeal. White southern culture provided a core of values, myths, and symbols that enhanced denominational stability; the...

  74. Sunday Schools
    (pp. 216-217)

    Sunday schools have played an important role in the South, especially in the decades following the Civil War. Initially a secular institution whose modern origins date from late 18th-century England, Sunday schools had been established in some southern towns and cities by the post-Revolutionary period. The Sunday school became increasingly religious in focus as church officials recognized the importance of establishing a place for children within the church and of guiding their spiritual and moral development. Statistics showed over time that most conversions occurred as a result of children’s Sunday school involvement, and denominational leaders saw them as the best...

  75. Thornwell, James Henley (1812–1862) PRESBYTERIAN CLERGYMAN AND THEOLOGIAN.
    (pp. 218-220)

    Religious educator, editor, and author, James Henley Thornwell was born in Marlboro District, S.C.; graduated from South Carolina College in 1831; studied at Andover Theological Seminary, Harvard, and Presbyterian Theological Seminary (Columbia, S.C.); and was licensed to preach in 1834. He served several churches for short periods of time and took part in the affairs of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA; Old School) beginning in 1837 when he attended his first General Assembly, being elected moderator in 1847. He was elected professor of metaphysics at South Carolina College in 1837 and taught at that institution...

    (pp. 221-222)
  77. INDEX
    (pp. 223-248)