Democratic Religion: Freedom, Authority, and Church Discipline in the Baptist South, 1785-1900

Paperback | March 13, 2003

byGregory A. Wills

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No American denomination identified itself more closely with the nation's democratic ideal than the Baptists. Most antebellum southern Baptist churches allowed women and slaves to vote on membership matters and preferred populists preachers who addressed their appeals to the common person.Paradoxically no denomination could wield religious authority as zealously as the Baptists. Between 1785 and 1860 they ritually excommunicated forty to fifty thousand church members in Georgia alone. Wills demonstrates how a denomination of freedom-loving individualists came to embrace anexclusivist spirituality--a spirituality that continues to shape Southern Baptist churches in contemporary conflicts between moderates who urge tolerance and conservatives who require belief in scriptural inerrancy. Wills's analysis advances our understanding of the interaction between democracyand religious authority, and will appeal to scholars of American religion, culture, and history, as well as to Baptist observers.

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No American denomination identified itself more closely with the nation's democratic ideal than the Baptists. Most antebellum southern Baptist churches allowed women and slaves to vote on membership matters and preferred populists preachers who addressed their appeals to the common person.Paradoxically no denomination could wield relig...

Gregory A. Wills is at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 5.91 × 9.21 × 0.79 inPublished:March 13, 2003Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195160991

ISBN - 13:9780195160994

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"Democratic Religion is an important revision to Hatch's work...Will's labors will go far in enabling historians to nuance the picture of Southern religion, particularly in the antebellum period."--Church History