The Irony of Southern Religion
Over the last three decades scholars have rediscovered the religious dimension of the Old South's history. Evangelical Christianity was a central component of the culture of both antebellum whites and blacks. In its formative years evangelical religion stood in critique of the dominant society and opposed slavery, but by the eve of the Civil War evangelical religion was a stalwart defender of that peculiar institution. Religion was essential to the development of southern nationalism, was used to defend secession, and convinced white southerners that victory was certain. Moreover, when defeat came, southerners again turned to religion to explain the course of events. Blacks also found meaning and solace in evangelical Christianity; in the churches they were treated more nearly as equals than anywhere else in southern society.
"The lectures provide a summation of Boles's career-long study of evangelical southern religion. They offer a clear and straightforward account of the dominant strands of religion in the South." (E. Brooks-Holifield, Georgia Historical Quarterly)
"This is a succinct, bold, interpretive, mature work of scholarship." (Howard Beeth, Maryland Historical Magazine)
"Boles projects an awareness and understanding of southern life that is at once historically rigorous and introspective. This brief volume should be required reading in any course in southern history." (David Rowe, The North Carolina Historical Review)
" The Irony of Southern Religion is a valuable compendium of information on the many facets of southern religious history and is useful primarily as a reference work. Boles has gathered an impressive amount of evidence to support his arguments. The work is a welcome addition to a neglected portion of American history." (David L. Kimbrough, The Filson Club History Quarterly)
The Author: John B. Boles is the Cline Professor of History at Rice University and is the managing editor of the Journal of Southern History. He is the author of numerous books, including The Great Revival, 1787-1805: The Origins of the Southern Evangelical Mind, Religion in Antebellum Kentucky, Black Southerners, 1619-1869, and The South Through Time: A History of an American Region. Among his edited books is Masters and Slaves in the House of the Lord: Race and Religion in the American South, 1740-1870.