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Making the Bible BeltTexas Prohibitionists and the Politicization of Southern Religion$
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Joseph Locke

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190216283

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190216283.001.0001

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Of Tremor and Transition

Of Tremor and Transition

Crisis and the Origins of Southern Clericalism

(p.59) 3 Of Tremor and Transition
Making the Bible Belt

Joseph Locke

Oxford University Press

At the turn of the twentieth century, a “New South” of industry, cities, and commerce promised to modernize the American South. Amid much regional change, southern evangelicals commonly comprehended and universally lamented a spiritual crisis. Despite growing churches, rising salaries, enhanced public prestige, and expanding congregations, southern white Protestant ministers perceived only a landscape of empty churches, disrespected preachers, indolent congregants, and a hostile public. Within their insular denominational worlds, southern religious leaders such as Baylor president William Carey Crane outlined the contours of their anxieties. But if a deep-seated sense of widespread crisis confronted religious Texans, a new generation of emerging leaders such as J. B. Cranfill promised a way out: they could fight in the public sphere. Senator Morris Sheppard and others increasingly imagined that the politics of prohibition could free religious southerners from their perceived crisis and reclaim an imagined golden age for American religion.

Keywords:   spiritual crisis, New South, church growth, neurasthenia, William Carey Crane

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