Forty years ago, cultural geographer Wilbur Zelinsky published what would be one of the first studies on religion and region. Based on his analysis of church membership data from 1952, Zelinsky identified seven major regions and five sub-regions in the United States. Largely based on census data, Zelinsky’s study presented a traditional view of religion that did little to account for beliefs and practices that fell outside the institutional walls of Christian churches. Despite this approach, his initial geographic study demonstrated to religion scholars that regional studies could help elucidate trends, patterns, and themes previously unrecognized. Regional studies might also provide new or different theoretical frameworks. One of Zelinsky’s regions was the “large Southern Region” which could be “readily identified as one in which Baptists are strongly dominant and Methodists form persistently large minorities.” The South also contained various sub-regions of interest, such as the “Carolina Piedmont” and “islands of Catholics.”1 As a cultural geographer, Zelinsky did not dig deeply into the religious intricacies of his defined regions but rather created a broad map. The task remained for future scholars of American religion to investigate these regions and see if Zelinsky’s geographical classification scheme would last.

In 1973, a group of professors in the Religion Department at Florida State University (FSU) established the Center for the Study of Southern Religion and Culture (Center). According to the Center’s advisory board, the reasons to study southern religion and culture were relevant to the entire nation at large. Many of the rising “evangelical Protestant denominations” had “strong roots in the South,” and the Center’s founders believed the religious culture of the region and its influence on the rest of the country disproved the current secularization thesis and notions of religious declension.2 When the Center’s funding ran out eight years later in 1981, it stopped sponsoring lectures and symposia and ceased publication of The Bulletin of the Center of the Study of Southern Religion and Culture (Bulletin). The Religion Department at FSU (the Center’s home base) eventually forgot it ever existed, until the summer of 2010. While reorganizing their basement storage space, department staff unearthed two over-stuffed file folders containing the grant applications, the Center’s small periodical, and other printed material about the former Center. The materials in these folders provide an image of the state of the field of southern religious studies in the 1970s and early 1980s, as well as an opportunity to consider how the Journal of Southern Religion has extended the mission of the Bulletin into the 1990s and 2000s.

Originally founded by faculty members at FSU and Florida A&M University, the Center quickly expanded to include scholars from other fields, illustrating the Center’s early interdisciplinary focus. Center director and FSU religion professor Richard L. Rubenstein (professor of Judaism and literature) described the Center’s founding members as scholars “who were convinced that the South had its own distinctive history, culture, and religious life.”3 Other members of the Center’s advisory board included Robert A. Spivey (Provost of the FSU College of Arts and Sciences and professor of New Testament and Hellenistic studies), John J. Carey (FSU professor of contemporary religious thought), Joe M. Richardson (FSU history professor), John F. Priest (1967 Executive Director of the American Academy of Religion, FSU professor of Old Testament and Ancient Near East studies), Jerry Chance (Florida A&M University professor of religion), and Bruce Grindal (FSU anthropology professor). Some of the founding professors and advisory board members studied southern culture, but much of their interest came not from their personal research agendas but rather from living in the South.

Three years after its start, the Center applied for a grant through the Rockefeller Foundation and received $104,000. In their successful 1976 grant application, the Center provided synopses of proposed research topics that the grant funds would help support. These included religion and criminology, religious life in prisons, social networks and religion in black rural communities, and the religious status of women in the South. The Center also hosted various symposia and conferences; for example, Harvard theologian Harvey Cox and Yale historian Sidney Ahlstrom each led a colloquium in the Center’s earlier days. At the time of the grant application, topics for future events included southern folklore, oral history methodology, Cuban-American communities, and the Lost Cause. Though these possible future topics indicate an emerging popularity of social and cultural history, many of the published articles in the Bulletin reflected an intellectual history approach.

One of the primary reasons the Center applied for grant funding was to make the Center’s activities and related research available through print and electronic media. With the 1976 Rockefeller grant money, the Center began to print the Bulletin. By 1981, the Center claimed a circulation of eight hundred copies per issue. The list of libraries that subscribed to the Bulletin included predictable southern universities such as Auburn University, Louisiana State University, and the University of South Carolina. But it also mailed to several institutions outside the region, with Loyola University Chicago, Brigham Young University, and Harvard College Library on the subscription list. The Bulletin mailing list also included international subscribers: the Instituto Nacional de Anthropogica e Historia in Coroba Mexico, National Taiwan University Library in Taipei, and Palace of Culture and Science in Warszawa, Poland. Reader feedback comprised part of an unsuccessful 1981 grant application, in which respondents called the Bulletin “very informative,” “unique,” and “provocative.” Theologian James H. Cone called the “quality” of the Bulletin “excellent,” and the contemporary Director of Research for the National Endowment for the Humanities called it “informative and intelligent.”4

For its fairly short length, the Bulletin covered extensive territory. Printing three issues a year for five years (1977–1981), the Center’s Bulletin ranged from eight to twenty pages and contained essays, transcripts of lectures at the Center, and book reviews. Unfortunately, the hidden stash of Center Bulletins is missing a few issues, but even with these absent publications, one can get a sense of the Center’s work and interest.5 In these Bulletins are 17 articles, six transcriptions of Center related lectures, 13 book reviews, and three other pieces (for example, two poems on Elvis Presley appear in Vol. 3, No. 3). Of the 23 essays (articles and lectures), half were historical analyses or literary criticisms, and the other half covered contemporary issues, some with a nod to anthropological methods. Many of the landmark texts from the late 1970s made their way in the Bulletin’s book reviews, which became a standard part of the Bulletin starting in the winter issue of 1978. The June 1979 issue reviewed E. Brooks Hollifield’s The Gentlemen Theologians: American Theology is Southern Culture, 1795–1860 (1978), which famously examined the development of southern theology and placed it in the context of southern culture. Albert J. Raboteau’s landmark Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South (1978) received a five-page review, which lauded the text for its groundbreaking work and Raboteau’s dedication to the developing field of African American religion. Furthermore, Donald Mathews’s “pioneering book” Religion in the Old South (1977) indeed became a “standard work” in the field, as reviewer Leo Sandon Jr. predicted.6

The articles in the Bulletin explored a variety of topics, but a few subjects, patterns, or themes appeared with more frequency than others. Of the 23 articles, four focused on race via African Americans and African American religion, and two specifically examined slavery and religion. One particularly noteworthy article came from historian Peter H. Wood. Wood’s award-winning Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion (1974) was pacesetting among many revisionist monographs of the 1970s that treated slaves as subjects worthy of study and as active agents rather than passive objects.7 His Bulletin article built on themes from Black Majority and likewise focused on the colonial period. Wood’s essay, “‘Jesus Christ Has Got Thee at Last’: Afro-American Conversion as a Forgotten Chapter in Eighteenth-Century Southern Intellectual History” was a video-taped address at the Center in April 1979 later published in the Bulletin. In his lecture, Wood opened with an encounter in 1769 in South Carolina between the famous evangelist George Whitefield and a free black man named John Marrant. Marrant became intrigued by the “crazy man” he heard “hallooing” (Whitefield), and after hearing Whitefield preach, Marrant was quickly converted. With this interaction in mind, Wood tracked the early relationship between African Americans and Christianity (and, in a way white culture in general) from the “era of pervasive mutual distrust” (1700–1730), to “the period of initial convergence” (1730–1760), and finally ending with “the era of black preaching” (1760–1790). The First Great Awakening played a key role in Wood’s narrative because the early revivals introduced slaves to the more “subversive and radical aspects of Christian doctrine,” in which “authority could be challenged through Christian doctrine itself.”8

Wood was hardly the only highly awarded scholar to speak at the Center.9 One of the Bulletin’s two articles on slavery addressed antebellum justifications for and arguments against slavery from the standpoint of moral progress. David Brion Davis won a Pulitzer Prize in 1967 for The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture (1966), and the American Historical Association’s Albert J. Beveridge Award (1975) and the Bancroft Prize (1976) for The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770–1823 (1975).10 In early 1979, Davis presented a lecture to the Center published later in the Bulletin on the relationship between slavery and ideas of progress.11 According to Davis, Enlightenment ideas about progress—moral, economic, and social—informed anti-slavery arguments, proslavery religious theorists, and anti-slave trade rhetoric.

While race was a common topic in the Bulletin, the problem was only framed in terms of black/white relations or slave religion. By contrast, Native Americans appeared once in a short November 1979 article by FSU professor and anthropologist J. Anthony Paredes titled “Kinship and Ethnicity among the Eastern Creek Indians.”12 It explored the “modern ethnic reassertiveness” of Creeks remaining in the southeast, who were mainly the descendants of the mixed-blood “friendly” Indians of the 1813–1814 Creek Civil War. Paredes’s article investigates terms such as “kinship,” “ethnicity,” and “genealogy” in his attempt to understand the meaning of these social scientific ideas in modern Creek society as they conceptualize their own modern identity.13

The “Culture” part of the Center’s name largely connoted a focus on the literary and musical arts, with three articles on southern writers and religion.14 FSU religion professor Lawrence Cunningham’s “Catholic Sensibility and Southern Writers” examined the premodern worldview—imparting “sacramental value” on the “natural world”—in the work of Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy.15 Though overtly Catholic themes did not overwhelm their writing, Cunningham found “the confrontation of modernity” in these works to be part of a wider Catholic tradition. Similarly, another article argued that the “spirit or attitude of Calvinism” filled the pages of William Faulkner’s Light in August, which spoke to Calvinism’s larger influence on the region in general.16 “The Sacred and the Profane in Flannery O’Connor’s ‘The Comforts of Home’” returned again to this famed southern author’s work, though this time via Mircea Eliade’s popular binary.17

Other than the articles on Creek kinship and the Catholic sensibility of southern writers, the Bulletin contained only one other reference to non-Protestant religion. In 1980, the Bulletin reviewed Nathan M. Kaganoff and Melvin I. Urofsky’s edited volume “Turn to the South”: Essays on Southern Jewry (1979), a book that convinced reviewer John Priest that “further study of the Southern Jewish experience can enhance our understanding of the Southern experience as a whole.”18 Still, the Protestant focus of the Bulletin does not come as a surprise. As Wilbur Zelinsky noted, evangelicalism largely presided over the religious geography of the South, and early regional studies continued to distinguish the South by its traditionally Protestant temper. Shortly before the Bulletin’s launch, geographer James Shortridge identified a small area of “Super Catholicism” in French Louisiana (reminiscent of Zelinsky’s “islands of Catholics”), but other than that, he distinguished the South as an area of “intense, conservative Protestantism.”19 For many scholars during the Center’s duration, southern religion was overwhelmingly Protestant.

Though gender studies was still in its infancy in the 1970s, the Bulletin included both a discussion of southern feminism and the construction of contemporary southern masculinity.20 The March 1979 issue featured an article on “Feminist Women in the Southeast,” which was based on survey information gathered by Center-sponsored doctoral student Carolyn Hadley. Hadley concluded that the distinctive characteristic of southern feminists “is that they are ostracized or considered curiosities in their immediate environments because they are feminists at the same time that they are ostracized or considered curiosities by feminists elsewhere because they are Southerners.” Many of the interviewed women reported that the promised legal and social changes of the Equal Rights Amendment struggled to gain currency in the region due to ignorance, a “Bible Belt” mentality, and “entrenched conservatism.”21

The following year, the Bulletin featured an article by Laurin A. Wollan Jr., an FSU School of Criminology professor, on cockfighting in contemporary Florida. In his research, largely informed by personal interviews and conversations with local cockfight gamblers and gamecock breeders, Wollan raised many questions about gender, sexuality, violence, and honor culture. Rather than answer any of these questions, Wollan’s goal was to generate discussion and introduce possibilities for future research. In fact, Wollan asked his readers point-blank: Is cockfighting interesting because there is something implicitly sexual about it? While he did not provide a straightforward answer, he presented background information on different cultural styles of cockfighting. Wollan analyzed the various preferences for lighter, agile birds versus heavier birds and explored debates between those favoring artificially shorter bouts or longer, more natural fights.22 He found the expression of these preferences in sexually tinged language, and like Ted Ownby in Subduing Satan: Religion, Recreation, and Manhood in the Rural South, 1865–1920 (1990), Wollan called attention to the cultivation of southern masculinity in a way that took the material circumstance of southern life and recreation seriously.23

A few articles in the Bulletin made sweeping regional claims about the South rather than analyze a particular element of its religion and culture. Samuel Hill—former Center advisory board member and current JSR advisory board member—also published in the Bulletin. His article “The Strange Career of Religious Pluralism in the South” explored the implications of the conclusions cultural geographers like Zelinsky and Shortridge made regarding religion in the South. In 1980 “religious pluralism” was hardly the buzzword it would become by the 2000s; rather, it was “understudied” during the Center’s existence. Hill notes that while the South had historically been distinguished by “the relative absence of diversity,” the region’s “cultural mainstream” has always included a variety of Protestant denominations. Despite this Protestant mix and the small “special cases” of Catholics and Jews, religious pluralism was not “a cultural fact” in the South until the “abrupt and wrenching social revolution” of the 1960s, which forced the region to confront the “inevitability” of religious pluralism. The South, as a largely homogenous society, had a preoccupation with stability and normativity, which further reinforced its own traditional homogeneity. Conceptualizing the South as a fairly consistent, Protestant-dominated region, Hill understood why southerners perceived outsider groups who challenged the traditional “southern way of life” and “prevailing social norms” as particularly threatening. Though contemporary pluralism had arrived in the South and “the traditional forms of religious monism” were “weakening,” the emergence of the New Right quelled the fears of southern traditionalists.24 Due to the southern “feel” of many of the televised evangelical “Electronic Church” ministers, many southerners could comfortably place these televangelists within their religious culture.25 Part of Hill’s 2009 inaugural Sam Hill Lecture in Southern Religious History at the University of North Carolina at Asheville returned again to the “strange career” of pluralism in southern religion. Hill argued that the South is a region typified by both “presence” and “absence” of diversity. Though the region has been historically marked by “a pervasively bi-racial culture, African and European … the significant absence of European immigrant sectors of the population, with their distinctive cultures” also characterized the region in past and present.26

Academics were not the only speakers who gave lectures at the Center. In late 1977, William Styron, the noted author of The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967) and Sophie’s Choice (1979), spoke at the Center.27 He was a stranger neither to southern culture nor to controversy. The Confessions of Nat Turner won Styron the 1967 Pulitzer Prize and thrust the white author of the provocative book into the not-always friendly spotlight. Though his characterization of the historical figure in Nat Turner is largely sympathetic, Styron received much criticism for the creative liberties he took with his characters. Famed African-American authors James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison defended Styron’s portrayal, but for other critics Styron’s depiction of Turner’s sexuality was too strongly reminiscent of stereotypical, racist assumptions of depraved, inherent black sexuality.28 In discussing his book at the Center, Styron first told the audience of his childhood in the South in order to contextualize his creative interpretation of Turner’s life. While in grammar school in Virginia, teachers and textbooks taught Styron that Nat Turner was a “fanatical” slave who “led a terrible insurrection” and was hanged for his “cruel deeds.” Styron described his writing experience and finished novel as an attempt “to know the Negro,” unlike the majority of southern white culture which chose to ignore the presence of African Americans in southern culture and southern history. He admitted to being ill-prepared for the “vehement attacks” he and the book received, and after a decade of reflection, he had “no apologies” for his portrayal of Turner. Styron felt his book sympathetically depicted how Turner was a victim to the horrors of slavery and the “absolute hegemony” of white society.29 Styron’s visit to the Center and his inclusion in the Bulletin demonstrate the political and social stakes of research in southern culture. Both lauded and severely criticized for his work, Styron and Nat Turner illustrated the volatility of and emotionality attached to such subjects of study. Furthermore, Styron’s reflections on growing up in the South in the 1930s illuminated the dynamic nature of race in popular southern culture.

It has been thirty years since the final Bulletin publication, and as a field, the study of southern religion has greatly expanded. Catholicism in the South, though still in need of much more scholarship, has developed far beyond the Bulletin’s depiction of Catholic sensibilities in literature.30 Many of the Bulletin pieces investigated either white religious culture or black religious culture—two strands of southern religion that now typically influence one another in historical narratives.31 In addition to scholarship that engaged multiple points on the black/white racial spectrum, studies on southeastern Native American cultures and religions have also developed from a nearly non-existent 1970s historiography.32 Visual and material culture studies have also developed since the Center’s organization. However, considering how many of the now-popular “folk” artists of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s were from the South, it is noteworthy that the Center presented nothing on any religious “self-taught” or “outsider” artists, particularly since the visual worlds of these artists can complement the intellectual worlds of other southerners.33

With these advances in mind, the Center and its Bulletins are an academic time capsule that provides us with snapshots of the historiography of southern religious history from the 1970s to the present. In the inaugural issue of the JSR (1998), Samuel Hill opened with an essay containing a “provocative hypothesis”—“Contemporary Fundamentalism (since the 1970s) has changed or challenged traditional forms of Southern culture far more than did the Civil Rights Movement that immediately preceded it.” Additionally, the growing power of fundamentalism made “Southern religion less Southern, that is, less culturally influenced or even less culturally captive.” Fundamentalists downplayed “the old tribalism of Southern life,” for they saw the need to live in accordance with biblical ethics as the main structuring element of everyday life.34 When the Center was founded in the early 1970s, the original members were “convinced of the importance of the South to America’s economic, political, religious and cultural life.” They felt that “something new was indeed happening in the South” and that this something “deserved scientific and scholarly attention.”35 This “something new” sought by the Center’s founders might have been the growing fundamentalism that Hill argued was undermining “southern-ness.” Whether or not this “southern-ness” is disappearing, fourteen volumes of JSR indicate that the study of it remains strong.

  1. Wilbur Zelinsky, “An Approach to the Religious Geography of the United States: Patterns of Church Membership in 1952,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 51, No. 2 (June 1961): 164. Other regions included “New England,” the “Midland,” the “Upper Middle Western Region,” the “Mormon Region,” the “Spanish Catholic Region,” and finally the “Western” region.

  2. Richard L. Rubenstein, “The Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion at FSU,” Florida State, Florida State University Alumni Association Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 4 (Fall 1978): 10–12.

  3. Ibid, 10.

  4. Richard L. Rubenstein, “Grant Proposal for THE BULLETIN of The Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion at The Florida State University.” Grant proposal prepared for The Florida State University Foundation, 1981. Appendix A – response to THE BULLETIN.

  5. It is also possible that some of the “missing” issues were never printed. The statistics that follow only take into account: Vol. 1, No. 1 (Summer 1977) and No. 2 (Fall 1977); Vol. 2, No. 1 (Summer 1978), No. 2 (Winter 1978); Vol. 3, No. 1 (March 1979), No. 2 (June 1979), No. 3 (November 1979); Vol. 4, No. 1 (March 1980), No. 2 (July 1980); Vol. 5, No. 1 (March 1981).

  6. Leo Sandon Jr., “Rational Gentility: Review of The Gentlemen Theologian: American Theology in Southern Culture, 1795–1860,” The Bulletin of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion, Vol. 3, No. 2 (June 1979): 16; Robert L. Hall, “The Evolution of Slave Religion: Review of Slave Religion: The ‘Invisible Institution’ in the Antebellum South,” The Bulletin of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion, Vol. 3, No. 1 (March 1979): 14–19; Leo Sandon, Jr., “Antebellum Religion: Review of Religion in the Old South,” The Bulletin of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 1977): 23–24.

  7. Peter H. Wood, Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion (1974; New York: W.W. Norton, 1996). Black Majority won the Albert J. Beveridge Award of the American Historical Association in 1974.

  8. Peter H. Wood, “‘Jesus Christ Has Got Thee at Last’: Afro-American Conversion as a Forgotten Chapter in Eighteenth-Century Southern Intellectual History,” The Bulletin of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion, Vol. 3, No. 3 (November 1979): 1, 3–6, 5.

  9. Another Pulitzer Prize winner who visited and lectured at the Center was Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Robert Coles who spoke on “Children and Ethical Conflict” in February of 1978.

  10. David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture\ (1966; New York: Oxford University Press, 1988); David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770–1823 (1975; New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

  11. David Brion Davis, “Slavery and the Idea of Progress,” The Bulletin of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion, Vol. 3, No. 2 (June 1979): 1–9.

  12. This article is shorter than two lengthy book reviews featured in the same issue.

  13. J. Anthony Paredes, “Kinship and Ethnicity Among the Eastern Creek Indians,” The Bulletin of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion, Vol. 3, No. 3 (November 1978): 8–10.

  14. For an essay on music, see Van K. Brock, “Assemblies of God: Elvis and Pentecostalism,” The Bulletin of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion, Vol. 3, No. 2 (June 1979): 9–15.

  15. Lawrence Cunningham, “Catholic Sensibility and Southern Writers,” The Bulletin of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Summer 1978): 8.

  16. Benjamin W. Griffith III, “Calvinism in Faulkner’s Light in August,” The Bulletin of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion, Vol. 2, No. 2 (Winter 1978): 10.

  17. Marlene Spencer, “The Sacred and the Profane in Flannery O’Connor’s ‘The Comforts of Home,’” The Bulletin of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion, Vol. 4, No. 2 (July 1980): 32–34.

  18. John Priest, Book Review: Turn to the South, The Bulletin of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion, Vol. 4, No. 1 (March 1980), 14.

  19. James R. Shortridge, “A New Regionalization of American Religion,” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Vol. 16, No. 2 (June 1977): 149.

  20. The inclusion of these two articles is significant considering the state of gender studies contemporary to their publication date. Theories and methods specific to gender largely emerged after the Center’s existence. See Joan Wallach Scott, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis,” American Historical Review, Vol. 91, No. 5 (Dec 1986): pp. 1053–1075; and Judith Butler, Gender Trouble (New York: Routledge, 1990).

  21. Carolyn Hadley, “Feminist Women in the Southeast,” The Bulletin of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion, Vol. 3, No. 1 (March 1979): 8, 10–12.

  22. Laurin A. Wollan, Jr., “Questions from a Study of Cockfighting,” The Bulletin of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion, Vol. 4, No. 2 (July 1980): 26–32.

  23. Ted Ownby, Subduing Satan: Religion, Recreation, and Manhood in the Rural South, 1865–1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990).

  24. Samuel S. Hill, Jr., “The Strange Career of Religious Pluralism in the South,” The Bulletin of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion, Vol. 4, No. 2 (July 1980): 17, 18, 24, 25.

  25. Though some Americans worried that the political mobilization of the New Right and their influential television programs (such as Jerry Falwell’s and Jim Bakker’s) would succeed in “legislating its moral convictions,” Hill predicted they would not experience widespread success. One wonders if Hill was predicting the later “telescandals” of the 1980s when he wrote the conclusion of this article. For reference to the term “telescandals,” see Susan Friend Harding, The Book of Jerry Falwell: Fundamentalist Language and Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000).

  26. Sam Hill, “Tell About the South: Why Are They So Religious?” (The Inaugural Sam Hill Lecture in Southern Religious History, The University of North Carolina at Asheville, April 2009). Lecture transcript available at

  27. William Styron, The Confessions of Nat Turner (1967; New York: Vintage Books, 2004); William Styron, Sophie’s Choice (1979; New York: Bantam Books, 1988).

  28. John Henrik Clarke, ed., William Styron’s Nat Turner: Ten Black Writers Respond (Boston: Beacon Press, 1968).

  29. William Styron, “William Styron on Nat Turner,” The Bulletin of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Summer 1978): 2, 4, 5, 6.

  30. By looking at three generations of missionary priests in the Louisiana territory, Michael Pasquier’s recent book Fathers on the Frontier: French Missionaries and the Roman Catholic Priesthood in the United States, 1789–1870 (2010) demonstrated that being Catholic was not always easy for these French priests, and southern Catholicism was certainly never static. Amy L. Koehlinger’s The New Nuns: Racial Justice and Religious Reform in the 1960s (2007) investigated how women religious in Selma understood their post-Vatican II responsibilities and vocations in the civil rights era south. The 2010 volume of JSR featured a review essay on three recent books investigating the relationships between Catholicism, the South, and Jim Crow racism; Daniel Hutchinson, “Catholics and Jim Crow: Recent Scholarship on Southern Catholicism during the Civil Rights Movement,” Journal of Southern Religion, Vol. XII (2010):

  31. The work of Paul Harvey, Edward J. Blum, and James B. Bennett are good examples of the latter. Paul Harvey, Redeeming the South: Religious Cultures and Racial Identities Among Southern Baptists, 1865–1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997) and Freedom’s Coming: Religious Culture and the Shaping of the South from the Civil War through the Civil Rights Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005); Edward J. Blum, Reforging the White Republic: Race, Religion, and American Nationalism, 1865–1898 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2005); James B. Bennett, Religion and the Rise of Jim Crow in New Orleans (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005).

  32. James Merrell, Joel Martin, Theda Perdue, Greg O’Brien, and others have demonstrated how nations like the Cherokee, Catawba, Muskogee, or Choctaw adapted with, responded to, and rebelled against their changing region. James H. Merrell, The Indians’ New World: Catawbas and Their Neighbors from European Contact Through the Era of Removal (New York: W. W. Norton, 1991); Joel Martin, Sacred Revolt: The Muskogee’s Struggle for a New World (Boston: Beacon Press, 1991); Theda Perdue, Cherokee Women: Gender and Culture Change, 1700–1835 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999); Greg O’Brien, Choctaws in a Revolutionary Age, 1750–1830 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005).

  33. The same year the Center received its Rockefeller grant, God told the sixty year old Reverend Howard Finster to “paint sacred art.” Though his northwestern Georgia Paradise Garden—a four-acre park full of his art—became more popular throughout the 1980s, helped in part by Rolling Stone and Esquire magazines, Finster obtained folk art fame in the late 1970s. While the Center held symposia and printed the Bulletin, folk art exhibits at major art museums featuring the work of various southern artists were popular both regionally and nationally. Though absent from the Bulletin’s pages, the visual worlds of these artists can complement the intellectual worlds of other southerners. The religious self-taught art of Finster, Sister Gertrude Morgan, and Clementine Hunter are indicative of southern folk art’s tendency to abound in Protestant evangelical themes, and recently art historians and southern historians have used the folk art of earlier decades to further understand southern religious cultures. For some current scholarship, see Carol Crown, ed., Coming Home! Self-Taught Artists, the Bible, and the American South (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004). This book contains thoughtful and engaging essays by historians such as Paul Harvey, Ericka Lee Doss, and Charles Reagan Wilson on the intersections of religion and race in southern “folk” art. Additionally, Harvey recently spoke in the first JSR podcast about using folk art as historical evidence in his recent book Moses, Jesus, and the Trickster in the Evangelical South (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2012.

  34. Sam Hill, “Fundamentalism in Recent Southern Culture: Has it Done What the Civil Rights Movement Couldn’t Do?” Journal of Southern Religion, Vol. 1 (1998):

  35. Rubenstein, “The Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Religion at FSU,” 10.