In this fresh and fascinating chronicle of Christianity in the
contemporary South, historian and minister James Hudnut-Beumler
draws on extensive interviews and his own personal journeys
throughout the region over the past decade to present a
comprehensive portrait of the South's long-dominant religion.
Hudnut-Beumler traveled to both rural and urban communities,
listening to the faithful talk about their lives and beliefs. What
he heard pushes hard against prevailing notions of southern
Christianity as an evangelical Protestant monolith so predominant
as to be unremarkable.
True, outside of a few spots, no non-Christian group forms more
than six-tenths of one percent of a state's population in what
Hudnut-Beumler calls the Now South. Drilling deeper, however, he
discovers an unexpected, blossoming diversity in theology,
practice, and outlook among southern Christians. He finds,
alongside traditional Baptists, black and white, growing numbers of
Christians exemplifying changes that no one could have predicted
even just forty years ago, from congregations of LGBT-supportive
evangelicals and Spanish-language church services to a Christian
homeschooling movement so robust in some places that it may rival
public education in terms of acceptance. He also finds sharp
struggles and political divisions among those trying to reconcile
such Christian values as morality and forgiveness—the
aftermath of the mass shooting at Charleston's Emanuel A.M.E.
Church in 2015 forming just one example. This book makes clear that
understanding the twenty-first-century South means recognizing many
kinds of southern Christianities.