Together, and separately, black and white Baptists created
different but intertwined cultures that profoundly shaped the
South. Adopting a biracial and bicultural focus, Paul Harvey works
to redefine southern religious history, and by extension southern
culture, as the product of such interaction--the result of whites
and blacks having drawn from and influenced each other even while
remaining separate and distinct.
Harvey explores the parallels and divergences of black and white
religious institutions as manifested through differences in worship
styles, sacred music, and political agendas. He examines the
relationship of broad social phenomena like progressivism and
modernization to the development of southern religion, focusing on
the clash between rural southern folk religious expression and
models of spirituality drawn from northern Victorian standards.
In tracing the growth of Baptist churches from small outposts of
radically democratic plain-folk religion in the mid-eighteenth
century to conservative and culturally dominant institutions in the
twentieth century, Harvey explores one of the most impressive
evolutions of American religious and cultural history.