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Black FundamentalistsConservative Christianity and Racial Identity in the Segregation Era$
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Daniel R. Bare

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781479803262

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479803262.001.0001

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Polemics from the Pulpit

Polemics from the Pulpit

Antimodernist Preaching and Racial Applications

(p.87) 3 Polemics from the Pulpit
Black Fundamentalists

Daniel R. Bare

NYU Press

Focusing on pro-fundamentalist and antimodernist rhetoric coming from black pulpits, this chapter examines sermons and speeches from such figures as Congregationalist minister Edward Franklin Williams, Methodist pastors John Albert Johnson and Isaac Reed Berry, and National Baptist leader Lacey Kirk Williams. While these black fundamentalists regularly expressed their theological positions in ways that aligned with their white counterparts, they also presented starkly different applications of fundamentalism, which grew out of their specific racial context. Isaac Berry’s discourse on Christ’s atonement, for example, led him to denounce legal bans on interracial marriage as contrary to the unifying identity established by Christ’s blood. So while fundamentalism has traditionally been associated with politically conservative activism (such as anti-evolution crusades), the inclusion of these black voices offers a new perspective. Fundamentalist doctrine, theology, and even identity may have crossed the color line, but social and racial context played a significant role in the ways that these convictions were applied and expressed.

Keywords:   Edward Franklin Williams, John Albert Johnson, Isaac Reed Berry, Lacey Kirk Williams, Modernism, Atonement, National Baptist Convention, Civil rights

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