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The Burden of Black Religion$
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Curtis J. Evans

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195328189

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195328189.001.0001

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 Black Religion in the New Nation: Outside the Boundaries of Whiteness

 Black Religion in the New Nation: Outside the Boundaries of Whiteness

(p.65) 2 Black Religion in the New Nation: Outside the Boundaries of Whiteness
The Burden of Black Religion

Curtis J. Evans (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter traces the convergence of white northern critiques of black religion in the post‐Civil War period and demonstrate the ways in which they converged with white southern views of black religion as degenerate and immoral. My principal argument is that to the extent that northern and southern Protestants imagined the United States as a white (Protestant) Christian nation, black religion, which was seen as the crucial cultural achievement of blacks, was regarded as beyond the boundaries of whiteness, morality and propriety. Black religion was no longer regarded as exemplary or special, but rather as emotionalism and lacking in practical morality. African American leaders tried to attack southern white notions of black religion as retrogression to African bestiality by holding on tenaciously to the older romantic racialist version of black Christianity. Yet even black leaders like Booker T. Washington seemed to assure whites that something was profoundly awry in the religious practices of black southerners.

Keywords:   northern Protestants, southern Protestants, black religion, retrogression, romantic racialists, Booker T. Washington, whiteness, Christian nation, black southerners, emotionalism

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