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Catholicism in the Early South - Journal of Southern …
The traditional evangelical denominations, the Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians, have long been at the heart of the South's religious culture, and they retained their hold during this period of social change. Baptists continue to represent about half of the church-affiliated population of the South, Methodists about a quarter, and Presbyterians ten percent. The (SBC) has been a "folk religion of the South," and yet it has also been the largest US Protestant church, thanks in part to establishing new congregations in the West, far beyond the original southern borders of the denomination in the nineteenth century. Increasingly a corporate-dominated bureaucracy, the SBC has long been closely allied with the South’s power structure, lending its conservative voice to issues of racial and social justice. Fundamentalists have taken over institutional control of the denomination since the 1980s, establishing creeds for the enforcement of orthodoxy, reshaping its educational institutions to narrow the range of teaching options, emphasizing the primacy of the inerrancy of the Bible, and moving away from traditional Baptist support for separation of church and state to support, among other government-enforced social causes, prayer in schools. Many moderates have left the SBC, weakening its numerical strength and leaving a narrow ideologically focused, leadership.
The study of Catholicism in the colonial South—particularly the study of lay Catholic experiences during this period—will, I fear, continue to be plagued by an exaggerated version of a perennial problem in the field of colonial American history: the scarcity of sources. Nevertheless, the scholarship that has come out in the last decade or so suggests that the contributions early Catholics made as people, rather than as members of an institution, to the cultivation of American and even southern identity in the eighteenth century can be uncovered with some creative massaging of the surviving sources, a bit of genealogical research (so as to find the Catholics in the sources that are not specifically church-related), and a whole lot of dedication.
The Catholic Church in America began in a ..
The study of southern Catholicism has endured a problematic status within the scholarship of both southern religion and American Catholicism. The Catholic Church can claim the title of the first Christian community in the South, possessing a pedigree that spans five centuries to the Spanish and French colonization of the Southeast and predating the rise of southern Protestantism. However, after the Louisiana Purchase Catholicism became a minority religion within an overwhelmingly Protestant region with a few isolated exceptions (in Louisiana and parts of the Gulf Coast). This minority status fostered tension in the construction of a southern Catholic identity; a tension between religious and regional identification. In matters of faith, southern Catholics stood apart from southern Protestants, whose social and theological identities were defined in part by opposition to Catholicism. However, when regarding politics, culture, and especially racial attitudes, southern Catholics largely resembled their Protestant neighbors. Remarkably different in one sense yet unexceptional in others, southern Catholicism has endured a marginal position in the study of southern religion and American Catholicism because it was either too different or not different enough.()However, a growing body of scholarship signals recognition that the experience of the Catholic South offers a unique perspective on the region’s distinctive history. This is particularly true regarding the era of the Civil Rights Movement. As Dave Chappell and others have persuasively argued, religion and religious communities played a central role in the dynamics of the Civil Rights Movement.() The three books under review demonstrate that the opposite was also true: that the African-American freedom struggle influenced southern Catholics and their religious communities.
In Black, White, and Catholic, R. Bentley Anderson explores a remarkable period of interracial cooperation against Jim Crow in the New Orleans Catholic community from the end of World War II to the eruption of Massive Resistance following Brown v. Topeka Board of Education. As James Bennett has documented, the centuries-old practice of racial integration (but not equality) in New Orleans Catholic community gave way to a segregated Church in the early twentieth century with the approval and cooperation of the Catholic hierarchy.() After World War II, however, a changing social and theological atmosphere created a limited degree of activism among the Catholic laity against the racial status quo. Anderson explores the emergence of two Catholic interracial organizations that stood for change: the Southeastern Regional Interracial Commission (SERINCO) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR). While both organizations possessed relatively small memberships and brief organizational existences, their activism prompted both change within Catholic institutions and potent reaction from the defenders of Jim Crow within New Orleans.
Catholics and Jim Crow, Review Essay - Journal of …
Attention to the historical development of religion in the South underscores dramatic changes and ways in which religion has entered into the ideology and experience of southerners. , an American version of the English national religion, was the first dominant religious tradition in the South, but dissenting Protestant sects, Catholics, and Jews were also present in the southern colonies. Virginia was especially significant as the home to Anglicanism, becoming the established church early on. Maryland, in its origins, represented an early version of southern religious pluralism, established as a potential refuge for Roman Catholics but also attracting , , and . After the in the 1680s, Maryland adopted Anglicanism as the state church of the colony, as did the Carolina colonies and eventually the rest of the southern colonies. Lay influence made for a distinctive Anglicanism, compared to the Church of England. Without a bishop in the colonies and with the predominant secular, materialistic values of a plantation society, the Anglican church was institutionally and culturally weak, but its presence did provide some degree of unity across the colonies, with ministers holding the main religious worship services in the South through the early 1700s, teaching a common theology and moral values, and operating schools. A distinctive group of French Protestants in South Carolina, the , mostly joined the Anglican church there.
If Pope Pius sought to comfort the President as well as the man — and when can a man, whether President, Pope or CEO, ever be completely separated from his office? — the reason most likely can be found in an understanding of the Old South’s way of life and by considering the life of the Church in the South both before and during the years that the region fought unsuccessfully for its nationhood. Arriving at the understanding, and undertaking the consideration are worthwhile, since the picture that will emerge is part of the heritage of Catholic Americans in whatever part of the country they live, or even if their own ancestors did not reach these shores until after the War Between the States.
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Center for the Study of Southern Culture
The CHR was established in 1949 as an interracial organization of Catholic laypeople dedicated to tearing down the divisions in their church imposed by Jim Crow. To achieve this goal the CHR sought to reunite black and white Catholics into a spiritual community by holding integrated masses, a Speaker’s Bureau, and by lobbying the Archbishop of New Orleans to end or modify segregation policies within the archdiocese. SERINCO was founded in 1948 and composed of college students from various New Orleans Catholic educational institutions, most notably Loyola University of the South and Xavier College, a historically black Catholic institution. Like the CHR, SERINCO desired to create a dialogue that would lead to the end of Jim Crow, particularly within Catholic schools. To promote this message SERINCO organized activities such as “Interracial Sundays” that brought white and black Catholic students together to celebrate integrated masses. Unlike later student organizations dedicated to civil rights like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), SERINCO members avoided disruptive demonstrations and instead sought to influence opinion through dialogue among other students, Catholic college administrators, and the Archdiocese of New Orleans. However, the success of such efforts at dialogue proved uneven, as evidenced in fruitless protests against campus minstrel shows and segregated theatres showing Passion plays. Nevertheless, members of the CHR and SERINCO took brave stances in an atmosphere where expressing the idea of racial equality and any sort interracial contact risked the threat of denunciation and ostracization.
Catholic Answers - Official Site
The Catholic Church in America began in a southern context, and Catholicism was the first form of Christianity to take root in the American South. Sixteen years before Sir Walter Raleigh attempted to found the first British colony in North America, thirty-seven years before the Virginia Company of London set up shop along the banks of the James River, and fifty years before the first English Calvinists anchored their ships on the tip of the arm of Massachusetts Bay, Spanish priests were serving soldiers on what eventually became known as Parris Island, South Carolina, and Jesuits were working to convert Algonquian Indians along what was then called the “Ajacán Peninsula,” between the James and the York Rivers that empty into the Chesapeake Bay.
Catholic Answers Focus Should Catholic priests be allowed to marry
The primary reason evangelical Protestantism has dominated the religious history of the South, and northern urbanism has dominated the American history of the Catholic Church, is simple: numbers. In spite of the bravado with which I began this essay, boldly staking a claim for Catholicism on the colonial southern landscape, the reality is that the vast majority of people living in the region—white, black, and Native American, alike—were unchurched in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Moreover, it was not until Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian evangelicals made the inhabitants of the South their personal project that the South became the “Bible Belt” that journalists have been writing about ever since H.L. Mencken spent a few historically significant days in Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925.
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