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154 Canadian Review of American Studies Revuecanadiennecfetudesam{mcaines I do wonder at the dropping of "Gay" from Gay Sunshine Press, publisher of Charley Shively's two collections, and note that Shively should be termed editor of both. Robert K. Martin Universite de Montreal Paul Harvey. Redeeming the South: Religious Cultures and Racial Identities Among Southern Baptists, 1865-1925. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997. Pp. 330. Redeeming the South is an important study of black and white southerners' competing, conflicting, and interlaced identities in the aftermath of the Civil War. Paul Harvey argues that Baptist worship was a central means by which southerners worked out post-emancipation race relations and the South's cultural position in the reunited nation. The study makes a powerful case for southern Baptist churches as fonts of culture, at once peculiarly regional and importantly American. It is also an important corrective to several decades of scholarship which has lavished attention upon the rise of biracial evangelicalism before the Civil War, but has failed to provide "a narrative that interprets the black and white Baptist experience in the South within the central themes of American cultural history" in the postbellum period (3). Harvey not only charts this temporal territory thoroughly, but he treats white and black Baptists with equal rigour and exposes their dynamic relationship to one another in spite of the development of segregated worship. Redeeming the South begins by tracing how Baptist churches divided along racial lines during Reconstruction. Harvey explains that after segregation white southern Baptists became ever more central to the development of the white supremacist ideology for which the redeemed South would become famous. He argues, however, that religious segregation was not an utter catastrophe for freedmen. Rather, black Baptists found support and hope in separated churches, where "messages not only of moral equality ... but also of political rights sounded forth" (54). At the same time, the racial barrier among Baptists was not impenetrable. Black Baptist churches continued to Book Reviews 155 have interaction with their white counterparts when it suited, even if this contact was an ongoing source of conflict within both communities. According to Harvey, white and black Baptists navigated parallel and, at times, overlapping courses from Reconstruction to the Progressive era that both incorporated and rejected elements of the national agenda of centralization , professionalization, and efficiency. Southern Baptists of both races clung to plain-folk religious traditions long after the war, even as they responded to increasing criticism from denominational reformers who were bent upon enhancing the "respectability" of the Baptists by pushing for an educated ministry, regularized worship, and church centralization. The ambivalent relationship of Baptists to this agenda mirrored southerners' efforts to both preserve their beloved past and position the South to compete in the modern, industrialized nation. For many white Baptists, Harvey suggests, the end of Reconstruction was as important for redeeming the South from the reformist, centralized religious culture of the North, as for saving the region from the spectre of social equality and political colonialism. Rural white Baptists continued their resistance to the reform impulse by maintaining into the twentieth century their local focus, by continuing to encourage emotionalism in their services, and by protecting congregational control over the ministry in spite of the growing professionalism of the clergy. Urban white churches were more receptive to progressive reform, particularly in their willingness to take up the cause of prohibition, but even there the victory of bourgeois values was mixed at best -as it was in the South more generally. In Afro-Baptist churches a similar struggle was apparent, as such prewar rituals as the ring shout and the recounting of visionary conversion experiences persisted into the postbellum era, but were increasingly the targets of criticism from reformers. The poverty of the southern black community made the goal of an educated ministry and centralized, regularized churches all but unattainable. Nevertheless, denominational reformers made some progress on those fronts, surprisingly with support from a handful of southern whites. African-American churches were burdened with the additional task, however , of constructing a response to Jim Crow that would serve their congregants well. While some activists at the time, followed by a contingent of historians...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-114X
Print ISSN
0007-7720
Pages
pp. 154-156
Launched on MUSE
2019-01-02
Open Access
No
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