The Methodist Unification: Christianity and the Politics of the Jim Crow Era

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NYU Press, 2008 - Religion - 197 pages

In the early part of the twentieth century, Methodists were seen by many Americans as the most powerful Christian group in the country. Ulysses S. Grant is rumored to have said that during his presidency there were three major political parties in the U.S., if you counted the Methodists.
The Methodist Unification focuses on the efforts among the Southern and Northern Methodist churches to create a unified national Methodist church, and how their plan for unification came to institutionalize racism and segregation in unprecedented ways. How did these Methodists conceive of what they had just formed as “united” when members in the church body were racially divided?
Moving the history of racial segregation among Christians beyond a simplistic narrative of racism, Morris L. Davis shows that Methodists in the early twentieth century—including high-profile African American clergy—were very much against racial equality, believing that mixing the races would lead to interracial marriages and threaten the social order of American society.
The Methodist Unification illuminates the religious culture of Methodism, Methodists' self-identification as the primary carriers of "American Christian Civilization," and their influence on the crystallization of whiteness during the Jim Crow Era as a legal category and cultural symbol.

 

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 Birth of a Nation Birth of a Church
23
Saints Cemeteries and Savages
45
3 Race Consciousness
63
The Bogey of Social Equality
81
The Problem of Missions and the Urgency of Patriots
103
Epilogue
127
List of Delegates to the Joint Commission with Biographical Notes
133
Notes
149
Selected Bibliography
175
Index
191
About the Author
197
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Morris L. Davis is Assistant Professor of the History of Christianity and Wesleyan/Methodist Studies at Drew University.

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