Getting Right with God: Southern Baptists and Desegregation, 1945-1995


This groundbreaking study finds Southern Baptists more diverse in
their attitudes toward segregation than previously assumed.

Focusing on the eleven states of the old Confederacy,
Getting Right with God examines the evolution of Southern ...

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Getting Right With God: Southern Baptists and Desegregation, 1945-1995

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This groundbreaking study finds Southern Baptists more diverse in
their attitudes toward segregation than previously assumed.

Focusing on the eleven states of the old Confederacy,
Getting Right with God examines the evolution of Southern Baptists'
attitudes toward African Americans during a tumultuous period of change
in the United States. Mark Newman not only offers an in-depth analysis
of Baptist institutions from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and
state conventions to colleges and churches but also probes beyond these
by examining the response of pastors and lay people to changing race relations.

The SBC long held that legal segregation was in line with
biblical teachings, but after the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown vs. Board
of Education
decision in favor of desegregating public institutions,
some Southern Baptists found an inconsistency in their basic beliefs. Newman
identifies three major blocs of Baptist opinion about race relations: a
hard-line segregationist minority that believed God had ordained slavery
in the Bible; a more moderate majority that accepted the prevailing social
order of racial segregation; and a progressive group of lay people, pastors,
and denominational leaders who criticized and ultimately rejected discrimination
as contrary to biblical teachings.

According to Newman, the efforts of the progressives to
appeal to Baptists' primary commitments and the demise of de jure segregation
caused many moderate and then hard-line segregationists to gradually relinquish
their views, leading to the 1995 apology by the Southern Baptist Convention
for its complicity in slavery and racism. Comparing Southern Baptists to
other major white denominations, Newman concludes that lay Baptists differed
little from other white southerners in their response to segregation.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a moving account of a great regional, religious, and racial tragedy, and Newman treats everyone involved with fairness, understanding, and empathy....This book covers a lot of terrain that has never been spelled out before, and it will be the indispensable first word on the topic....It fills a very significant void in the scholarship of the 20th-century South and of the history of southern religion."
—John Boles, Rice University

"It is the best manuscript that has been done on the relationship of Southern Baptists to African Americans during the Civil Rights movement."
—Wayne Flynt, Auburn University

Publishers Weekly
In this historical study of race and the postwar Southern Baptist Convention, Newman argues that most white Southern Baptists were "moderates" on racial issues; they supported de jure segregation, because their primary concern was obeying the law, then slowly changed after court decisions and new legislation mandated desegregation. On either side were vocal minorities: hard-line segregationists argued that biblical Christianity required a total separation of the races, while progressive Baptists criticized racist policies as contrary to Christ's example. This is a solid, if pedestrian, study; the prose is forthright and the book's organization efficient, though a bit uninspired. (Nov. 15) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780817310608
  • Publisher: University of Alabama Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2001
  • Series: Religion & American Culture Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark Newman is a reader of history at the University of Edinburgh’s School of History, Classics, and Archaeology. Newman’s Getting Right with God: Southern Baptists and Desegregation, 1945-1995, won the Lillian Smith Book Award for nonfiction from the Southern Regional Council, the American Studies Network Book Prize from the European Association for American Studies, and the Anne B. and James B. McMillan Prize from the University of Alabama Press.

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Table of Contents

1 The Southern Baptist Convention and African Americans, 1845-1944 1
2 An Overview: Southern Baptists and Desegregation, 1945-1971 20
3 The Sociology of Religion and Social Change 35
4 Southern Baptists and the Biblical Defense of Segregation 48
5 Progressive Southern Baptists and Civil Rights 65
6 Public School Desegregation 87
7 Law and Order 110
8 "The Great Commission": Evangelism at Home and Abroad 129
9 The Variety of the Southern Baptist Experience in Desegregation 150
10 The Major White Denominations and Race Relations, 1945-1971 168
11 An Overview: Southern Baptists and African Americans, 1972-1995 191
12 Conclusion 205
App Baptist State Convention Newspapers: Circulation 211
Notes 213
Bibliography 261
Index 275
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