Taking Religion Seriously

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Over the past two years I've read a number of books that address various aspects of religion before, during, and after the Civil War.  I don't mean the popular titles that pluck out spirituals to make us feel good or stories that reinforce our overly simplistic assumptions about Christian Warriors and God-Loving Southerners v. the atheist North.  A few notable titles on my short list include Mark Noll's The Civil War as a Theological Crisis, Harry Stout's Upon the Altar of the Nation, and Drew Faust's This Republic of Suffering, to name just three. 

I just picked up and am looking forward to starting Charles F. Irons's The Origins of Proslavery Christianity: White and Black Evangelicals in Colonial and Antebellum Virginia (University of North Carolina Press, 2008).  I've read a number of his essays published in various collections, but I am looking forward to reading what I must assume stems from his dissertation, which was written here at the University of Virginia.  Here is the jacket description:

"In the colonial and antebellum South, black and white evangelicals
frequently prayed, sang, and worshipped together. Even though white
evangelicals claimed spiritual fellowship with those of African
descent, they nonetheless emerged as the most effective defenders of
race-based slavery.As Charles Irons persuasively argues, white
evangelicals' ideas about slavery grew directly out of their
interactions with black evangelicals. Set in Virginia, the largest
slaveholding state and the hearth of the southern evangelical movement,
this book draws from church records, denominational newspapers, slave
narratives, and private letters and diaries to illuminate the dynamic
relationship between whites and blacks within the evangelical fold.
Irons reveals that when whites theorized about their moral
responsibilities toward slaves, they thought first of their
relationships with bondmen in their own churches. Thus, African
American evangelicals inadvertently shaped the nature of the proslavery
argument. When they chose which churches to join, used the procedures
set up for church discipline, rejected colonization, or built
quasi-independent congregations, for example, black churchgoers spurred
their white coreligionists to further develop the religious defense of
slavery.

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