This groundbreaking study finds Southern Baptists more diverse intheir attitudes toward segregation than previously assumed.Focusing on the eleven states of the old Confederacy,Getting Right with God examines the evolution of Southern Baptists'attitudes toward African Americans during... a tumultuous period of changein the United States. Mark Newman not only offers an in-depth analysisof Baptist institutions from the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) andstate conventions to colleges and churches but also probes beyond theseby examining the response of pastors and lay people to changing race relations.The SBC long held that legal segregation was in line withbiblical teachings, but after the Supreme Court's 1954 Brown vs. Boardof Education decision in favor of desegregating public institutions,some Southern Baptists found an inconsistency in their basic beliefs. Newmanidentifies three major blocs of Baptist opinion about race relations: ahard-line segregationist minority that believed God had ordained slaveryin the Bible; a more moderate majority that accepted the prevailing socialorder of racial segregation; and a progressive group of lay people, pastors,and denominational leaders who criticized and ultimately rejected discriminationas contrary to biblical teachings.According to Newman, the efforts of the progressives toappeal to Baptists' primary commitments and the demise of de jure segregationcaused many moderate and then hard-line segregationists to gradually relinquishtheir views, leading to the 1995 apology by the Southern Baptist Conventionfor its complicity in slavery and racism. Comparing Southern Baptists toother major white denominations, Newman concludes that lay Baptists differedlittle from other white southerners in their response to segregation.
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