Religion in the Contemporary South - Don S. Armentrout Susan Bales A. Tiveed Summary
Religion has always been crucial to the cultural identity of the South. The field ofsouthern religious studies is quite young, however, and most scholarship hasfocused on the kinds of evangelical fundamentalist activity for which the phrase"Bible Belt" was coined. Religion in the Contemporary South is the first book to fully address the emerging religious pluralism in the South today.Featuring an introduction by Samuel S. Hill, Religion in the Contemporary South brings together fourteen essays by both established and emerging scholars that deal with a spectrum of topics. These topics include religious identities in the South that weave in and out of the past; new religious expressions in the South and the shifting position of "old" minority traditions; and a microcosmic look at the Episcopal Church. The collection comes at a time of sweeping change in the South, as the 150-year stronghold of evangelical Protestantism--the Baptist-Methodist hegemony-- gives way to a more diverse religious tradition--one that includes leadership by women, decreasing marginalization for Roman Catholicism and Judaism, and the growing presence of so-called "alien" religious traditions: Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam.In his essay, "A Crumbling Empire," Bill J. Leonard talks about the future of the Baptist denomination, which grows more uncertain as moderates break ties with the fundamentalist leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention. In "Our Lady of Guadeloupe Visits the Confederate Memorial," Thomas Tweed notes the growth of Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim traditions in the South. Susan Ridgely Bales examines the state of southern Catholicism in "Sweet Tea and Rosary Beads," and in "Quiet Revolutionaries," D. Jonathan Grieser, Corrie E. Norman, and Don S. Armentrout discuss the ways in which women priests in the Southern Episcopal Church construct their lives and callings. These and other offerings are varied, comprehensive, and provocative.As the South changes and its religious life evolves, so must scholarship. Religion in the Contemporary South is a guide to the "new" southern religions-- more diverse, sometimes controversial, but as vital to the region as ever.