Globalizing Southern Religious History

Kelly Gannon

Kelly Gannon is a PhD candidate in American Religious Cultures at Emory University.

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Kelly Gannon, "Globalizing Southern Religious History," Journal of Southern Religion (18) (2016):

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“Southerners, it has been said, are those Americans most haunted by God,” historian James McBride Dabbs once wrote. “As religion continues to permeate the southern character and southern culture, it could not have worked other than to have structured southern history and southern mythology.”[1] Although religion in a variety of forms may have been a chief characteristic of southern culture, southern religious identity has never been as monolithically Protestant as 1960s civil rights leaders or today’s ever-visible Religious Right may cause it to appear. Rather, the category of “southern religion” is a complex amalgam of peoples, beliefs, practices, and ideas. Southerners have moved, settled, traveled, mixed with new groups, met with divergent philosophies, and changed over time. This flow of ideas, as my colleagues in this roundtable describe, has contributed to the formation of dissenters and outsiders. As such, I argue that southern religion cannot be studied in a vacuum or merely in contrast to the larger United States. To study southern religion, especially new arrivals or those outside the Protestant ranks, means to place southern religiosity into transnational networks of belief and cultural practice.

Thomas Bender has asserted in his A Nation Among Nations: America’s Place in World History (2006) that “American history cannot be adequately understood unless it is incorporated into [a] global context.”[2] A decade later, at this watershed moment in international geo-politics, it is ever more important to consider the place of our scholarship and our historical subjects in the larger world. Yet, even as cultural and social histories of the South grow in complexity, and scholarship on religion places American religion in an international context, these categories, southern religious history and globalism, have yet to fully come together in southern studies.

Recent surveys and religious censuses also point to a need to scrutinize the multifaceted cultural and religious demographic shifts of the American South. Americans began surveying religious affiliation over a century ago. Since that time, terminology, inclusiveness, and survey methodology have advanced. While improvements still have not made for a perfect study of American religious identity, contemporary scholars have a much clearer picture of national religious diversity than ever before.[3] The 2010 U.S. Religion Census: Congregations & Membership Study produced by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies paints a fascinating picture of the extent to which American religious life interacts with the global world. The survey of 236 religious groups uses county level data to draw conclusions about the number of adherents of various religious congregations. The study’s data is reported in two ways: “Counties Where Each Religious Body Has the Most Adherents” and “Counties Where Each Religious Body Has the Highest Ratio of Total Adherents.” Given the relatively sparse populations of many southern counties as compared to northern or West Coast counties, the “Ratio of Total Adherents” data works well when analyzing the South relative to the rest of the United States.[4]

According to this 2010 Religious Census, as a ratio of total adherents, Marion County, South Carolina, has the highest ratio of Bahá’í members in the United States. In fact, according to this data, 10% of Marion County residents are Bahá’í.[5] Fairfax County, Virginia, has the highest ratio of Coptic Orthodox Church members in the United States. DeKalb County, Georgia, and Washington, DC, are tied with the greatest ratio of Eritrean Orthodox members. Pinellas County, Florida, has the greatest ratio of Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America members. Barrow County, Georgia, has the largest ratio of members in the Malankara Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church in North America. Several counties in central Kentucky each have the largest ratios of particular Amish-Mennonite communities, including Midwest Beachy Amish-Mennonite, Ambassadors Amish-Mennonite, and Unaffiliated Conservative Amish-Mennonite Church congregants. The highest ratio of total adherents to Zoroastrianism is a tie between Butts County, Georgia, Fort Bend County, Texas, and Montgomery County, Maryland.[6] Evidently, there is much more diversity in the American South than simply different derivatives of white or black Protestantism.

This Religious Census study admittedly has its flaws. For example, not all religious practitioners are members of official congregations. As with many religion surveys, it fails to take into account culturally religious adherents who are not faith practitioners (for example, those who celebrate Santa Claus without believing in the Christ narrative, or those who identify as familiarly or culturally “Jewish” but do not believe in a deity). Also, these statistics do not include several religious minority groups such as Jains, Taoists, Sikhs, and small sectarian offshoots of Korean Presbyterianism, because, by the survey’s own admission, “No adherents were available for this group.” The survey also does not break down the number of international and immigrant members of several more common congregations, such as the number of Latino/as attending Pentecostal churches. Despite these caveats, the study gives scholars at least foundationary knowledge on which to understand religious diversity in states of the former Confederacy.

Bearing in mind this intriguing data and historiographical gap, this study will analyze the historiography of globalism in southern religious history. While my report is not exhaustive, I hope to present how historians have traditionally conceived of globalism in southern religious history and where the historiography may be leading scholars today.


To start a historiography of southern religious culture, I will begin with American Indians since they were the first southeastern peoples. Before and after European colonialization, southeastern Indian tribes interacted across tribal and colonial boundaries through trade, war, marriage, and eventually through forced migration to reservations. Many texts about American Indians in the South are centered on conflicts between tribes and white Americans, movement and resettlement, or white Americans’ racial views of native peoples, especially in light of slavery or Jim Crow laws. Several studies—for example, Christina Snyder’s Slavery in Indian Country (2012) or Theda Perdue’s Mixed-Blood Indians (2003)—often include religion as a cultural demarcation for Southern Indians, but rarely analyze religion as a set of beliefs or practices.[7] Conversely, many strong studies of native religions, like Colin G. Calloway’s New Worlds for All (1998), Tisa Wenger’s We Have a Religion (2009) or Francis Paul Prucha’s The Churches and Indian Schools, 1888–1912 (1979), discuss interactions between American Indians and western (Christian) religious ideas, but do not address the South or southern culture.[8]

In a similar geographic omission, many texts that consider American religion in the Atlantic World stay mostly in New England and the Mid-Atlantic. These include, for example, David Hall’s Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment (1989) which creates a comparative history of the term “popular religion” in seventeenth century Europe and New England, or Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra’s Puritan Conquistadors (2006) which uses discourse to argue that early Spanish Catholic settlers and English Puritan settlers had remarkably similar religious-based justifications for the colonialization and conversion of native peoples.[9] And as Edmund Morgan noted all the way back in 1968, “we already know more about the Puritans than any sane man should want to know.”[10]

Many classic texts in the historiography of African American culture and religion also lack a global lens. Lawrence Levine’s Black Culture, Black Consciousness (1977), John Boles’s edited volume Masters and Slaves in the House of the Lord (1988), or John Blassingame’s The Slave Community (1972), intertwine the Americanization of slaves with the origins of the Black Church.[11] Although these authors disagree about the extent of slaves’ religious autonomy, they collectively use religion as a method through which to examine the development of African American culture, rather than weaving a pan-Atlantic narrative or considering African and African American religiosity over time. Even Albert J. Raboteau has admitted the many omissions in the first edition of his Slave Religion (1978), especially connections between African American spirituality and West African religions.[12]

The historiography of ethnicity and immigration has had many successes in placing American religious history in a global context. However, the historical subjects of most of these studies usually live in New York, Boston, Chicago, and sometimes San Francisco. For example, Richard Hughes Seager’s The World's Parliament of Religions (2009) is a solid analysis of the interactions between practitioners of various religions and members of the white Protestant establishment at the Chicago World’s Fair.[13] Similarly, Robert Orsi’s The Madonna of 115th Street, uses public religion to draw conclusions about gender, social constructions, class, and ethnicity in turn-of-the-century Harlem.[14] Both of these texts are significant to the field, but neither deals with pluralism and ethnic diversity in the American South.

Scholars of recent history and ethnography have begun to dig into the implications of the Hart-Cellar Immigration Act of 1965. This federal act changed the European-centric immigration quota system that was enacted in 1921. As a result, immigrants from new places, Asia and Latin America especially, could more easily enter the United States. Most of these immigration studies are still based around major coastal cities, and occasionally the southwest when referring to Latinos. For example, Borderlands Saints by Desirée A. Martín (2013) investigates the worship of saints and saint-like figures in Latino communities along the Mexico/United States boarder.[15] However, her analysis does not travel east of southwest Texas, an area treated more culturally similar to Arizona than Alabama. Luís D. León’s La Llorona’s Children (2004) is a seminal study of Mexican-American religious belief and practice, but is likewise confined to the southwest, mostly California.[16] Sociologist James W. Loewen’s dissertation-turned-book, The Mississippi Chinese (1971), was an innovative book for its time. Unfortunately, the text only mentions Christian Chinese. Immigration and the South are present, but a deep interrogation of religion is largely not. Other than to note that a particular congregation was started by a former Chinese missionary, Loewen’s book never digs deeper into how these Chinese became Protestant or if the community has multi-religious practices.[17]

Despite the relatively small number of globally-conscious studies about religion in the South, there are a few texts that present strong approaches. Like Bender, works by James Cobb, including Redefining Southern Culture (1999) and Globalization and the American South (edited with William Whitney Stueck, 2005), have argued for a reexamining of southern identity, culture, and history through a modern, global lens.[18] While neither text is concerned with religion specifically, they do take into account that, especially since the 1970s, the Sunbelt as a whole has undergone a massive population shift. In turn, new histories and sociological studies of the South should be discussing the impact of newly arriving groups to the region. Outside the general methodology set forth by Cobb and Stueck and others like them, several studies, old and new, act as exemplars for how scholars of religious history can bring a more global lens to southern studies.

Decades ago, Charles Hudson did just this in his 1976 book, The Southeastern Indians. An interdisciplinary work, The Southeastern Indians draws evidence from archaeology, material and visual culture, early European settlers’ diaries, and the notes of nineteenth-century anthropologists, to discuss lives of native southeasterners before they were forcibly moved out West.[19] In “Chapter Three: The Belief System,” Hudson describes how religious ideas were shared when tribes interacted with each other. He states:

The Natchez, for example, after being driven out of the lower Mississippi valley by the French went to live with Creeks, Chickasaws, Catawbas, and Cherokees. And it is notable that [anthropologists] James Mooney and John Swanton who collected Southeastern oral traditions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries often remarked on the large number of motifs and stories that were common all over the Southeast. In some cases, the Indians with whom Mooney and Swanton worked explicitly said that they learned some of their oral traditions from storytellers who were from other Southeastern societies.[20]

As the analysis continues, Hudson is careful to note theological similarities between the groups, such as a conception of the cosmos consisting of three worlds (“This World, an Upper World existed above the sky vault, and an Under World existed beneath the earth and waters”), while also teasing out that each group had its own belief system.[21] Similarly, Joel Martin’s 1991 book, Sacred Revolt, interrogates religious traditions of the Creek Confederacy. Martin argues that Muskogee conceptions of the sacred, including rituals, spaces, and modes of being, were in contrast to that of European settlers and thus became connected to the Muskogee Red Stick rebellion.[22] While these texts are far from perfect and somewhat outdated, their global approach was ahead of its time and continues to be a model for framing this type of study.

Pious Pursuits, edited by Michele Gillespie and Robert Beachy (2007), is a collection of essays that considers both southern religion and more European Americans than just Puritans. The Moravians, originally from Bohemia and Moravia in what is now the Czech Republic, found refuge from religious persecution in Germany before coming to the New World and setting in Pennsylvania. Within a few years, a large group of Moravians used the Pennsylvania Wagon Road to travel southward, settling in the North Carolina Piedmont. Gillespie and Beachy’s book discusses the social, cultural, migratory, and religious history of the Moravians on both sides of the Atlantic.[23] James Van Horn Melton’s book, Religion, Community, and Slavery on the Colonial Southern Frontier (2015) does similar work. He analyzes the Salzburgers, a small religious community that arrived in early colonial Georgia after fleeing persecution in Austria.[24] Melton studies how their religious beliefs concerning slavery and land ownership, as well as their interactions with American Indians, often clashed with other white settlers on the Georgia frontier.

Also covering this period, Jon Sensbach’s 2007 article, “Religion and the Early South in an Age of Atlantic Empire,” gives a thorough overview of some major themes and texts emerging in the study of southern religion and the Atlantic World.[25] So too, does Rebecca Anne Goetz’s article, “Religious Diversity and the Coming of Christianity in the Prerevolutionary South” (2012). Goetz states, “The early South we are in the process of recovering was deeply diverse: it was multireligious, multiethnic, and multiracial.”[26] To this point, Glenn Crothers’ Quakers Living in the Lion’s Mouth (2012) places the history of Virginia’s Quaker community in a global context.[27] Crothers examines how Quaker theology contributed to the expulsion of Quaker communities from a myriad of places; he then analyzes the people and places Quakers came to affect (or be affected by) as a small group traveled through England then New England, before settling in the Northern Neck of Virginia. Crothers uses visual culture, material culture, oral histories, and diaries to do this work. The global lens employed by Crothers, Melton, and Gillespie and Beachy, show how place, space, and migration have deep theological and cultural effects on both particular faith groups and those with whom they come into contact.

Sylviane Diouf also demonstrates this in her 1998 book Servants of Allah, which analyzes Islam’s place in the African diaspora. Servants of Allah begins in West Africa before the entrance of Europeans, and traces Islam in the United States in detail through the early nineteenth century before drawing conclusions about today. Using French, Spanish, English, Arabic, and West African sources, Diouf argues the reason for the little inclusion of African Muslims in American slave histories “is not racial but cultural: the West African Muslims may be seen as ‘true blacks’ instead of Moors or Arabs, but their culture and religion are viewed as foreign, Arab.” [28] Michael Gomez also globally contextualizes the evolution of early African American religious identity in two works: Exchanging our Country Marks (1998) and Black Crescent (2005).[29] So too, are Dianne Stewart, Tracey Hucks, and Rachel Harding, whose recent works are collectively are challenging the historiography of the Afro-religious diaspora to be both more gender inclusive and reconsider the U.S. South’s global connections to Caribbean and Brazilian histories.

As scholars contemplate (im)migration and diaspora, several recent studies are tackling the effects of multiculturalism and globalism on southern religious communities. Many of these texts, especially in the last ten years, have centered on Catholics. Catholicism has a long tradition of mediating a global space. Maura Jane Farrelly’s comprehensive article, “Catholicism in the Early South” (2012) gives a historiographical overview of the study of American Catholicism before moving into a history of Catholic southerners.[30] “America’s first Catholics—that is to say, the Catholics who oversaw America’s transition from a collection of British colonies to an autonomous republic—were southerners, slaveholders, ardent republicans, and enthusiastic revolutionaries,” she asserts.[31] Although Farrelly’s article ends in the Early Republic, her footnotes cover a wide swath of eras, including the recent arrival of a large and vibrant Latino population to the American South.

A similar early America focus can be seen in Emily Clark’s Masterless Mistresses (2007). Clark discusses the arrival of the French Company of Saint Ursula to colonial New Orleans.[32] Under French colonial rule, then under Spanish colonial rule, and finally in a slave-holding U.S. state, the Ursuline sisters crossed boundaries of race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion to serve the women and girls of New Orleans. Clark states, “When the last third of the eighteenth century had brought a recalibration of the contours of colonial society, the nuns’ program to enlist all women in the propagation of the faith made the convent a setting where colliding categories of nationality, race, and class were mediated.”[33]

Recently, other texts like Jeroen Dewulf’s “From Moors to Indians” (2015) are also looking at global issues in ethnicity and American Catholic identity.[34] Taking a more ethnographic approach, Terry Rey and Alex Stepick’s Crossing the Water and Keeping the Faith (2013) examines contemporary Haitian religion in Miami.[35] The authors, both sociologists, center their analysis at the intersection of ethnicity, class, Catholicism, evangelical Protestantism, and Haitian Vodou. Uniquely, this work focuses not just on congregants or practitioners, but it also discusses how the Catholic Church as an institutional governing body is working with local congregations in Miami to honor heritage religions without losing sight of Catholic doctrine.

Conversations about religion and diaspora in the American South would not be complete without mentioning Judaism. As my colleagues in this roundtable have pointed out, this is a rich area in need of additional attention. I will add that in order to truly contextualize southern Judaism in a global sense, it is not enough to concentrate solely on Jewish identity as otherness. In the edited volume Jewish Roots in Southern Soil (2006), chapters like Gary Phillip Zola’s essay on nineteenth-century Reform Judaism in Charleston, Richmond, and Savannah, or Mark Greenberg’s study of Sephardic and Ashkenazic immigration to Savannah, demonstrate the need to interrogate belief, faith, and practice, in addition to identity, using a global lens that draws on the Jewish diaspora. [36] After all, it is nearly impossible to contextualize Jewish river settlements in Louisiana or what Ferris and Greenberg have called “a transition from the Old World model of ‘synagogue-community’ to the New World ‘community of synagogues’” without understanding the divergent “worlds” themselves.[37]

Recently, “Nuevo South” studies give scholars a renewed opportunity to consider southern religion in a global context. João Paulo Bezarra Chaves notes in his “Where Should We Go Next?” (2014), “As Hjamil Martinez-Vasquez demonstrated, United States religious historiography as a whole has been constructed on the basis of a tradition that left many groups muted.”[38] Given this fact, as well as that there is “to this day no critical analysis of the potential racial tension” between Anglo-American Baptist evangels and Mexican-Americans during the 1800s, Chaves’ article is a call to reconsider religious identity across a borderland.[39] Roberto Treviño’s 2006 book, The Church in the Barrio, discusses the establishment of Houston’s Catholic Latino community and its connections to the rise of the 1970s Chicano movement.[40] In a 2013 article in which he reflects on the process of researching and writing his book, Treviño wrote,

The tripartite racial landscape that forms the book’s backdrop implicitly challenges the usefulness the black-white binary model for examining religion and civil rights in the South’s westernmost fringes…the book reminds us that southern inter-racialism becomes more complex when religious space is shared by ethnic Mexicans and African Americans.[41]

Shared and contested space is a common theme that grows out of a global history of southern religion. In this way, Chad Seales’s The Secular Spectacle (2013) is a reminder that southern evangelism and southern forms of civil religion (for example the Lost Cause), can also be interrupted by the influx of newcomers and new faiths.[42] In 1985, Orsi’s description of public celebrations of the Madonna by Harlem’s Italian American community demonstrated that publicly performed religion is an opportunity to study ritualized meaning making by newcomers to the United States, as well as changes in the rituals as generations progress. Drawing on this notion, Seals describes first, the black-white binary of southern civil religion in Siler City, North Carolina, and then the effects of Siler’s new Latino Catholic community taking its religious practices to the streets. Seales argues that in the eyes of white Siler citizens, a public display of a passion play marked “a secular difference between Latino migrants and other Americans.” While white Catholics once “flew under the radar” in Siler City, the arrival of the Latino migrants and their public sphere devotional practices “put [Catholics] on the religious map.”[43]

Other new releases are also opening up the historiography, drawing non-Western religious traditions into southern studies. More than simply adding “diversity” to the historiography, these texts also analyze the global flow of ideas to the American South. No Jim Crow Church, Louis Venters’s 2015 book, is a historical study South Carolina’s Bahá’í community.[44] The book begins around the turn of the twentieth century and discusses the movement of Bahá’í ideas and believers across the Atlantic and along the Atlantic Coast. The bulk of the text covers the tumultuous 1950s to 1970s. Venters’ well-written narrative argues that notions equality at the root of Bahá’í’s belief in the unity of humanity gave way to an interracial church even under Jim Crow, and “undermined both the practical mechanisms and the spiritual underpinnings of white supremacy” in Civil Rights era South Carolina [45]

Jeff Wilson’s Dixie Dharma (2014) is an ethnographic study centered on a Buddhist community in Virginia.[46] Wilson researched Richmond’s Ekoji Buddhist Sangha, which is home to five unique lineages of Buddhism: Soto Zen, Tibetan Karma Kagyu, Pure Land, Vipassana, and Meditative Inquiry. Wilson is concerned with two main ideas: how the Ekoji members have carved out a space for themselves amongst southern evangelicals, and if southern Buddhism acts differently than other forms of “American Buddhism” found on the West Coast or northeastern cities. Dixie Dharma challenges notions of global and regional religious structures; it is a significant recent contribution to the historiography.


From Hudson to Clark to Seales to Wilson, these historiographic examples reveal just a few ways to use a global lens for studying southern religion: through performativity and ethnography, material culture and archaeology, oral history or traditional archival sources. These texts also demonstrate, as Bender asserts in the conclusion to A Nation Among Nations, that “history and humanity are not in fact enclosed in boxes, whether national, ethnic, local, or continental. Good empirical history ought to reflect this truth.”[47] With demographics rapidly changing in the American South and international connections being more thoughtfully integrated into humanities scholarship, scholars of southern religious history have the opportunity to include global themes in their analyses. This effort is more than simply adding “diversity” to southern religion; rather, it is a call to interrogate deeply how religion in the American South fits in context with the rest of the United States, the Atlantic World, and the religious formation of global networks.

The flow of ideas into and out of the American South has not been limited by time or boundaries. Additionally, the entrance and proliferation of outsider religious ideas in southern culture have affected both the outsiders and those with whom they came in contact. Some outsiders of the past, like the Moravians, are now seen as part of the southern religious mainstream today, while others, like Richmond’s Ekoji members, remain somewhat on the fringe. As southern demographics continue to rapidly change and international connections are more thoughtfully integrated into humanities research, scholars of southern religious history have the opportunity to include global themes and analytical lenses in their work.

[1] Patrick Gerster and Nicholas Cords, “Overview: The Religion of the Lost Cause,” Myth and Southern History, Vol 1: The Old South, 2nd Edition, eds. Patrick Gerster and Nicholas Cords (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989), 169.

[2] Thomas Bender, A Nation Among Nations: America’s Place in World History (New York: Hill and Wang, 2006), 6.

[3] For more on the challenges of using religion data from U.S. Census records, see for example: Catherine L. Albanese, “Understanding Christian Diversity in America,” in American Christianities: A History of Dominance & Diversity, ed. Catherine A. Brekus and W. Clark Gilpin (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2011), 29–58.

[4] For context, the twenty-five most populated counties (based on the 2010 United States Census) include only six counties in the South: two in Florida and four in Texas. Furthermore, no county in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, or West Virginia ranks in the top 100 counties by population size. Source: U.S. Census Bureau: Population Division, “United States At a Glance,” 2010 Census Data Products, last modified 2010, (accessed May 10, 2015).

[5] “Maps and Charts for 2010,” 2010 U.S. Religion Census.

[6] The data for this paragraph was drawn from the 2010 U.S. Religion Census by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies. Source: Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, “Maps and Charts for 2010,” 2010 U.S. Religion Census: Congregations & Membership Study, last modified 2012, (accessed Apr. 22, 2015).

[7] Christina Snyder, Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2010). Theda Perdue, Mixed-Blood Indians: Racial Construction in the Early South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2003).

[8] Colin G. Calloway, New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997); Tisa Wenger, We Have a Religion: The 1920s Pueblo Indian Dance Controversy and American Religious Freedom (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2009); Francis Paul Prucha, The Churches and Indian Schools, 1888–1912 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979).

[9] David D. Hall, Worlds of Wonder, Days of Judgment: Popular Religious Beliefs in Early New England (New York: Knopf, 1989); and Jorge Cañizares-Esguerra, Puritan Conquistadors: Iberianizing the Atlantic, 1550–1700 (Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press, 2006).

[10] Edmund S. Morgan, “The Historians of Early New England,” in The Reinterpretations of Early American History: Essays in Honor of John Edwin Pomfret, ed. Ray Allen Billington (New York: Norton, 1968), 41.

[11] Lawrence Levine, Black Culture, Black Consciousness (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977); John Boles, Masters and Slaves in the House of the Lord: Race and Religion in the American South, 1740–1870 (Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 1988); John Blassingame, The Slave Community (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972).

[12] For more on this, see the Afterward of the 2004 revised edition of Raboteau’s Slave Religion, for example pages 327-328. Albert J. Raboteau, Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004 [1978]), 323–324.

[13] Richard Hughes Seager, The World's Parliament of Religions: The East/West Encounter, Chicago, 1893 (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2009).

[14] Robert A. Orsi, The Madonna of 115th Street: Faith and Community in Italian Harlem, 1880–1950 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985.)

[15] Desirée A. Martín, Borderlands Saints: Secular Sanctity in Chicano/a and Mexican Culture (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2013).

[16] Luis D. León, La Llorona's Children: Religion, Life, and Death in the U.S. Mexican Borderlands (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004).

[17] James W. Loewen, The Mississippi Chinese: Between Black and White (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971).

[18] Bender, A Nation Among Nations; James C. Cobb, Redefining Southern Culture: Mind and Identity in the Modern South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1999); James C. Cobb and William Whitney Stueck, eds., Globalization and the American South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005). See also James L. Peacock, Harry L. Watson, Carrie R. Matthews, The American South in a Global World (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press 2005).

[19] Charles Hudson, The Southeastern Indians (Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 1976).

[20] Ibid., 122.

[21] Ibid., 122–123.

[22] Joel Martin, Sacred Revolt: The Muskogees’ Struggle for a New World (Boston: Beacan Press, 1991).

[23] Michele Gillespie and Robert Beachy, eds., Pious Pursuits: German Moravians in the Atlantic World (New York: Berghahn Books, 2007). Pious Pursuits is part of the European Expansion and Global Interaction series edited by Pieter C. Emmer and Seymour Drescher.

[24] James Van Horn Melton, Religion, Community, and Slavery on the Colonial Southern Frontier (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

[25] Jon Sensbach, “Religion and the Early South in an Age of Atlantic Empire,” Journal of Southern History 73 (August 2007): 631–642.

[26] Rebecca Anne Goetz, “Religious Diversity and the Coming of Christianity in the Prerevolutionary South,” Journal of Southern Religion 14 (2012).

[27] A. Glenn Crothers, Quakers Living in the Lion’s Mouth: The Society of Friends in Northern Virginia, 1730–1865 (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2012).

[28] Sylviane A. Diouf, Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas (New York: New York University Press, 1998), 204.

[29] Michael A. Gomez, Exchanging our Country Marks: The Transformation of African Identities in the Colonial and Antebellum South (Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1998); Michael A. Gomez, Black Crescent: The Experience and Legacy of African Muslims in the Americas (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005). Exchanging our Country Marks covers the colonial and early Republic moment, through roughly 1830. Black Crescent is more of a survey text that discusses African (American) Islam from the fifteenth century through the activism of the Nation of Islam.

[30] Maura Jane Farrelly, “Catholicism in the Early South,” Journal of Southern Religion 14 (2012), accessed May 11, 2015,

[31] Farrelly, “Catholicism in the Early South.”

[32] Emily Clark, Masterless Mistresses: The New Orleans Ursulines and the Development of a New World Society, 1727–1834 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2007).

[33] Clark, Masterless Mistresses, 3.

[34] Jeroen Dewulf, “From Moors to Indians: The Mardi Gras Indians and the Three Transformations of St. James,” Louisiana History 56 (Winter 2015), 5–41.

[35] Terry Rey and Alex Stepick, Crossing the Water and Keeping the Faith: Haitian Religion in Miami (New York: New York University Press, 2013).

[36] These are Chapter 7 and Chapter 1, respectively, in Marcie Cohen Ferris and Mark I. Greenberg, Jewish Roots in Southern Soil: A New History (Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2006.)

[37] Marcie Cohen Ferris and Mark I. Greenberg, “Introduction,” in Ferris and Greenberg, Jewish Roots in Southern Soil: A New History (Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2006), 5.

[38] João Paulo Bezarra Chaves, “Where should we go next? A call for the critical investigation of possible racial encounters between Anglo-American and Mexican-American Baptists in Texas during the pioneer period,” Baptist History and Heritage 49 (Fall 2014), 23. Full text available online through The Free Library: <> (accessed August 7, 2016).

[39] Chaves, “Where should we go next?,” 24.

[40] Roberto Treviño, The Church in the Barrio: Mexican American Ethno-Catholicism in Houston (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2006).

[41] Roberto Treviño, “Reflections on The Church in the Barrio,” Journal of Southern Religion 14 (2012), accessed August 5, 2016,

[42] Chad Seales, The Secular Spectacle: Performing Religion in a Southern Town (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013). For more information on the Lost Cause as a form of southern civil religion, see for example: Charles Reagan Wilson, Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865–1920, 2nd Edition (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2009 [1980]); or The Journal of Southern Religion’s 2015 “Southern Civil Religions” roundtable, <>.

[43] Seales, The Secular Spectacle, 115.

[44] Louis Venters, No Jim Crow Church: The Origins of South Carolina's Bahá’í Community (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2015.)

[45] Venters, No Jim Crow Church, xiii.

[46] Jeff Wilson, Dixie Dharma: Inside a Buddhist Temple in the American South (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2014).

[47] Bender, A Nation Among Nations, 301.