Southern Baptists in the Heart of Dixie
Religion and American Culture
760 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 1.90 in, Illus.
- Published: October 2005
The first book about Alabama Baptists to be written by a professional historian
Alabama Baptists are a complex people. Although regarded as conservative in both politics and theology, many Baptists became leaders of the 1890s agrarian revolt, devoted partisans of the social gospel early in the 20th century, and ardent advocates of the New Deal. Complexity has also characterized the denomination's race relations. For nearly five decades half its members were slaves, while many other members owned slaves. Thus, interaction of black and white Baptists created a unique religious setting in which people who were members of the same churches interpreted the gospel of liberation in dramatically different ways. After the Civil War, Baptist churches in the South divided into white and black congregations. Only white congregations remained part of the Southern Baptist Convention, whose members are known as Southern Baptists. Black congregations became part of the National Baptist Convention, and their history is a separate story deserving future study.
Despite social and cultural conflict Alabama Baptists helped tame a chaotic frontier, sustained a sense of community, created opportunities not available in secular society, shaped Alabama politics, and obtained religious dominance seldom matched in U.S. history.
"The ‘state church’ of Alabama is Southern Baptist. One in every four inhabitants of that state and two of every three church members there are members of the Alabama Baptist State Convention. Alabama has the highest percentage of any state in the union. . . . Flynt is a well seasoned professional historian as well as an insider. Both backgrounds cooperate to contribute an honest and fair account. . . . This volume could very well be the best historical account of any denomination in any state of the United States."
“Wayne Flynt has written the definitive history of Southern Baptists in Alabama. A distinquished historian of southern religion, Flynt is also a narrative Alabamian and Southern Baptist who trained for the ministry. . . . "Flynt's sweeping chronicle of Alabama Baptists provides an in-depth look at the South's largest denomination in a pivotal state.”
—Journal of American History
“Flynt examines Alabama Baptists from the varied perspectives of individual, congregational, and denominational experience. The result is a rich, detailed depiction that reveals the years of careful research that undoubtedly went into its writing.”