Kenneth K. Baily's Southern White Protestantism

841 Words 4 Pages
The study of any field should start with the earliest literature on the subject; this, in regards to the history of Christianity in the American South, is Kenneth K. Baily’s Southern White Protestantism in the Twentieth Century. Bailey offers a history of the South, focusing on the ideas of white society from the 1900s to the author’s present time-1964. When a study of any part of southern history takes place, some focus must be given to African American culture. This is especially true when focusing on Christianity, which Bailey fails to do. The black population has molded and influenced the southern culture as much as whites have. Critique aside, this book provides that which the title promises- a history of white, southern, Protestantism. …show more content…
Hill, contains a handful of essays by Edgar T. Thompson, Anne Firor Scott, Sharles Hudson, and Edwin S. Gaustad. A significant portion of the work gives the reader the impression that religious aspects of the south have attracted little interest from historians in American history, southern history, and religious history. Hill hopes, as stated in his thesis that, “the subject of [the] chapters, concequently, [would] afford us a fresh and potentially rich investigation of religious phenomena and of the American South.” (PG22) Examples of this freshness is through discussions about the roles of women and the lack of religious cartography in the South by Anne Firor Scott and Edwin S. Gaustad, respectively. Present scholars of the field will understand that women’s history became a popular topic in the 1960s, thus explains the “newness” of the study and lack of true historical evidence through other means of historical literature, for the book lacks a sturdy number of secondary sources, relying on mostly diary entries and oral accounts. Additionally, the relation of slaves and their ancestors to Southern Christianity holds the same dilemma as the study of women during this time-former slaves were not interviewed about their lives until some years after emancipation, and the interest in their stories in relation to religion was not studied until the years this book was written, primarily beginning with the interests of Hill and …show more content…
Matthews’ Religion in the Old South proves provides a refreshing discussion in Southern Religious historiography, as it introduces the subject of the work as a study of evangelical Christianity’s impact on the culture of the South. The book is beautifully written and provides heavy detail on black and female Christians and how evangelicalism affected them (and some whites) to the point of becoming southern abolitionists. This subject is one that is debated in future literature, as opinions on the topic of slavery vary depending on which preacher is teaching and in what region. Regardless of what future literature holds, Matthews argues that the “religious continuum of black Christianity created a mode of survival and sense of victory that was much closer to the original message of evangelicalism than the mood and institutions of whites.” (PGXVIII). He gives new information on what the black church looked like and how slaves found a sense of freedom in the church. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, evangelicalism affected southern views so much that the south viewed the North as a nation-state of anarchist heathens, because they did not attend church as the South did. The north did in fact attend church in a perfectly biblical sense, but did not attend as often or with as much fervor as the south. The evangelicalism movement stands a heavy influencer in secession and the civil war, as many southern men felt compelled-even instructed- to worship alongside their

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