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Struggle for the Soul of the Postwar SouthWhite Evangelical Protestants and Operation Dixie$
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Elizabeth Fones-Wolf and Ken Fones-Wolf

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039034

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039034.001.0001

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“If You Read Your Bible”

“If You Read Your Bible”

The Faith of Southern White Workers

(p.55) Chapter 3 “If You Read Your Bible”
Struggle for the Soul of the Postwar South

Elizabeth Fones-Wolf

Ken Fones-Wolf

University of Illinois Press

This chapter discusses the popular religiosity of the southern, white, working class, relying heavily on oral histories. Popular religiosity has been the subject of a great deal of debate in the scholarly literature. According to religious historian Charles H. Lippy, popular religiosity exists alongside formal religious belief and practice, but it is also about “the ways in which individuals take religious belief, interpret it in practical terms, and put it to work to do something that will give order and meaning to their lives.” He suggests that Americans have long operated within both sacred and secular realms, each with their own measure of power. For those without power in the material world, access to sacred power can nevertheless give someone “a sense of control, of being able to chart one's own destiny.” That control becomes the key to experiencing happiness and to seeing life as endowed with meaning.

Keywords:   popular religiosity, working class, oral histories, Charles H. Lippy, religious belief, sacred power

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