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At Ease in Zion, At Ease in Zion, 0817350381, 0-8173-5038-1, 978-0-8173-5038-3, 9780817350383, , , At Ease in Zion, 0817390820, 0-8173-9082-0, 978-0-8173-9082-2, 9780817390822,

At Ease in Zion
Social History of Southern Baptists, 1865-1900
by Rufus Spain

Quality Paper
2003. 270 pp.
978-0-8173-5038-3
Price:  $29.95 s
E Book
2016. 270 pp.
978-0-8173-9082-2
Price:  $29.95 d

First published in 1967, Rufus Spain’s thorough investigation into Southern Baptist attitudes set the stage for research on religion in the American South. In At Ease in Zion, Spain questions the titular “ease” with society that Southern Baptists seemed to maintain following the Civil War. His analysis of denominational newspapers, as well as reports from the Southern Baptist Convention and state conventions, paint a compelling picture of the subjects’ complacency with their social existence, even as they criticized personal and recreational ethics.

While the South faced significant social, economic, and political changes after the Civil War, religion remained the primary moral influence. As the Southern Baptist denomination made up a significant majority of the population at that time, its leaders and attitudes had a clear and undeniable impact on social norms. Rufus Spain was one of the first writers to actively demonstrate the relationship between Southern religion and Southern society, and his work displays meticulous attention to the ways in which we are affected by complacency. He asserts that Southern Baptists viewed the American South as a version of God’s ideal society; any issues they wished to address were caused by individuals (such as those who did not conform to societal norms) or external attitudes (such as those in differing religions or regions).

At Ease in Zion is a critical part of the scholarly discussion on religion in society. Spain’s research offers a bold analysis of the American South and its citizens during one of the most tumultuous times in its history while providing a basis for arguments on “social Christianity” and its ever-shifting role in the world.



Rufus Spain is Professor Emeritus of History at Baylor University. Samuel S. Hill is Professor Emeritus of Religion at the University of Florida and author of Southern Churches in Crisis Revisitied.

 


“The social patterns of the modern South are rooted in attitudes which developed following the Civil War; and one of the most important institutions which helped shape these attitudes was the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest white Protestant denomination in the South. Rufus Spain has used a great amount of matter from Baptist periodicals to show their response to social problems of the day . . . [and he] frankly admits that Baptists tended to conform to southern social patterns instead of challenging them on religious grounds.”
Journal of American History



“Without Spain’s study, we would see far less clearly how epoch-making is the recent coming to power of the so-called fundamentalist party within the Southern Baptist Convention. Several of Spain’s achievements stand out. Paramount is the clear recognition of the compatibility of Southern Baptist ways of thinking with the reigning values of the southern culture. . . . With the reissue of At Ease in Zion we are doubling back to a pioneer stage in the task of understanding the place of religion in southern culture. As we do, we realize fresh opportunity to gain insight into the long sweep of southern religious history.”
—From the Foreword



Also of Interest

Baptist Piety
Edited by Edwin S. Gaustad


Our Southern Zion
by Erskine Clarke


Militant Zionism in America
Rafael Medoff


Recovering the Margins of American Religious Histo
Edited by B. Dwain Waldrep, Scott Billingsley