Where Does the South End and Christianity Begin?

“What is going on?”

That’s the question that’s pouring into my inbox, into my text messages, and into every one of the (too many) social media apps I use. It’s a question usually accompanied by a news article about a furious Christian leader, a screenshot of a Facebook post by an enraged Christian friend, or an account of a troubling conversation with an angry client or customer. While the insurrection of January 6 caused some Christians to suddenly wake up to the danger of the rage in their ranks, others doubled down. And the fury is leaking out everywhere. 

The answer to that question is obviously complex—almost absurdly complex. I’ve written about many of the near-term motivations, including the corruptions of Christian nationalism, partisanship, and conspiracy theories. But this week, let’s go even deeper. I’ve written at length about the danger of American Evangelicalism becoming too Republican. But I also have come to believe there’s a danger in American Evangelicalism becoming too southern.

Yes, there’s a lot to say about this topic and the reasons that white Evangelicals are such outliers on a number of racial issues, including expressing less concern about racism and police brutality, and a heightened sensitivity to allegedly “woke” arguments about race. Simply put, if American Evangelicalism is disproportionately southern, then it’s more likely to carry the South’s racial baggage into broader American life. That is true, but it’s not my focus today. 

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