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The University of North Carolina Press
Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt / Edition 1

Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt / Edition 1

by Christine Leigh HeyrmanChristine Leigh Heyrman
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Revealing a surprising paradox at the heart of America's "Bible Belt," Christine Leigh Heyrman examines how the conservative religious traditions so strongly associated with the South evolved out of an evangelical Protestantism that began with very different social and political attitudes.
Although the American Revolution swept away the institutional structures of the Anglican Church in the South, the itinerant evangelical preachers who subsequently flooded the region at first encountered resistance from southern whites, who were affronted by their opposition to slaveholding and traditional ideals of masculinity, their lack of respect for generational hierarchy, their encouragement of women's public involvement in church affairs, and their allowance for spiritual intimacy with blacks. As Heyrman shows, these evangelicals achieved dominance in the region over the course of a century by deliberately changing their own "traditional values" and assimilating the conventional southern understandings of family relationships, masculine prerogatives, classic patriotism, and martial honor. In so doing, religious groups earlier associated with nonviolence and antislavery activity came to the defense of slavery and secession and the holy cause of upholding both by force of arms—and adopted the values we now associate with the "Bible Belt."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807847169
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 04/27/1998
Edition description: 1
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Christine Leigh Heyrman is professor of history at the University of Delaware.

Table of Contents


Prologue: Canaan's Language

1. Raising the Devil
2. The Season of Youth
3. Family Values
4. Mothers and Others in Israel
5. Mastery


What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

One of the most engaging and compelling histories I have ever read; indeed, it is the best history of religion in the South that we now have and is sure to become a model of how we should do religious history.—Donald Mathews, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Heyrman provides an elegant and evocative portrait of the early estrangements. Southern Cross: The Beginnings of the Bible Belt has narrative power, unusually combining incisiveness with humanity. . . . It is hard to see that her book has a serious competitor.—Times Literary Supplement

A masterly study combining meticulous scholarship, thoughtful argument, and informed storytelling. Heyrman brings literary wit and grace to her subject, and students and scholars of the early National period and the antebellum South will be well-rewarded by this engaging text.—Maryland Historical Magazine

[A] remarkable study. . . . Although other historians . . . have noted the slow process of evangelization that culminated so successfully in the mid-nineteenth century, none have told the story with such compelling detail, compassionate sympathy and wise humor as Heyrman.—Georgia Historical Quarerly

Christine Heyrman has produced a history of extraordinary value for anyone seeking to understand how evangelicalism stamped an entire region. Southern Cross is a fascinating story, full of anecdotes and told with style, wit, and sophistication.—Randall Balmer, Barnard College, Columbia University

Evangelical religion will never look the same after this beautifully crafted history.—Michael P. Johnson, Johns Hopkins University

An extraordinarily rich exploration of the first hundred years of evangelical faith in the South. . . . Heyrman has given us a great deal to think about in this wonderfully told and beautifully written story. In the end, we are left to ponder what the South, and indeed the United States, might look like today if those 18th-century evangelical firebrands with their message of freedom for slaves and recognition for women had managed to carry the day.—Charles B. Dew, New York Times Book Review

A wonderful book. . . . With meticulous documentation and an elegant writing style.—Michael D. Schaffer, Philadelphia Inquirer

[Describes] in vivid and convincing detail, the ways in which Southern evangelicals remade their faith to fit more easily into their society. For that accomplishment, and for tackling the history of the evangelical mainstream in an innovative way, this book represents an important contribution.—Koinonia

Undoubtedly one of the most important, and most impressive, works on southern religion to appear this decade.—Atlanta History




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