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White Nationalism and Faith

Statements and Counter-Statements on American Identity

by Camille Kaminski Lewis (Volume editor)
Textbook XIV, 154 Pages
Series: Speaking of Religion, Volume 3

Summary

According to Kenneth Burke, every idea houses its opposite. "Heresies and orthodoxies will always be changing places," he imagined, "but whatever the minority view happens to be at any given time, one must consider it as 'counter.'" In other words, every tradition contains its own critique. Ideas are always in dialogue, bridging gaps that we may not have known existed until the bridges were built. And alongside those bridges are other implied ways to transfer and create meaning. To foreground that pendulum and address our contemporary political climate, White Nationalism and Faith: Statements and Counter-Statements on American Identity includes American texts which wield religious arguments in order to affirm or dismantle white supremacy. William Jennings Bryan, Billy Sunday, and Bob Jones as well as Barack Obama, Phil Snider, and Mitch Landrieu are just a few of the voices in dialogue. This anthology is designed for the upper-level undergraduate or master's student so that they can explore how American rhetors since the Civil War have constituted their white nationalism through religious rhetoric. With this anthology of statements and their contemporaneous counter-statements, students of public address can craft and polish the same serious but comedic lens as Kenneth Burke imagined in the twentieth century.

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • “When in Rome, Do as the Greeks!”: Statements and Counter-Statements
  • Part 1—Reconstructing America’s Religious Rhetoric
  • Chapter One: “The South and Her Problems” (Henry Grady)
  • Chapter Two: “Saving America That the World Might Be Saved” (John Roach Straton)
  • Part 2—Maintaining America’s White Piety
  • Chapter Three: “The Theater, the Cards and the Dance” (Billy Sunday)
  • Chapter Four: “Why Princeton Did Not Ask Billy Sunday” (Andrew West)
  • “Chapter Five: “Modern Woman” (Bob Jones Sr.)
  • Part 3—Naming America’s White Supremacy
  • Chapter Six: “I Come from Georgia!” (Andrew Cobb Erwin)
  • Chapter Seven: “Jesus Is More Needed” (William Jennings Bryan)
  • Part 4—Separating within American Itself
  • Chapter Eight: “Evangelical Christianity Endangered by Its Fragmentized Condition” (William Ward Ayer)
  • Chapter Nine: “Segregation and the Kingdom of God” (E. Earle Ellis)
  • Chapter Ten: “The Cross and the Sickle” (Billy James Hargis)
  • Chapter Eleven: “Black Manifesto” (James Forman)
  • Chapter Twelve: “Christian Manifesto” (Carl McIntire)
  • Part 5—Redeeming America from Its Original Sin
  • Chapter Thirteen: “Southern Manhood” (Terry Rude)
  • Chapter Fourteen: “The Right Side of History” (Phil Snider)
  • Chapter Fifteen: “Eulogy for State Senator and Pastor Clementa Pinckney” (Barack Obama)
  • Chapter Sixteen: “On Removing Confederate Statues” (Mitch Landrieu)
  • Conclusion—Confessing America’s Sin of White Nationalism
  • Chapter Seventeen: “Ending Racial Segregation in the Church” (James Williams)
  • Series index

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Foreword

The Speaking of Religion series advances the important principle that religious words and ideas continue to hold authority and power in an increasingly secular world. Many scholars argue that we live in a post-Christian society, that Christianity is no longer the dominate religious lens through which Americans view the culture. We concurrently hear from scholars that we live in a post-secular society. Regardless of the nomenclature, scholars of religion, sociology, and rhetoric understand that religion broadly defined has either resurged or persisted as a controlling narrative in the public sphere.

In unique ways, the current volume links speeches of the past with contemporary public concerns: immigration, labor, progressivism, urbanism, and education. In short, the public concern taken up by Professor Camille K. Lewis is White Nationalism, that conflation of significant political and religious traditions that can be traced most obviously to the years following the American Civil War.

As Professor Lewis cogently explains in her introductory chapter, White Nationalists formerly were dubbed One-hundred Percenters. It is an old concept, but with temporal nuance. It was understood that a true, one-hundred percent American in the early twentieth century meant adopting a personal identity void of any practiced connection to one’s ethnicity. A person’s commitment to America required disengagement from, or at least mutedness toward, one’s ethnicity. Quite bluntly, it was not socially or politically acceptable to be a hyphenated American. In White Anglo Saxon Protestant America, the expectancy was that true ←ix | x→Americans would adapt to White Nationalism one-hundred percent of the time. Minorities were a threat to the Nation; minorities were not welcomed.

With our feet planted firmly in the twenty-first century, the most arresting feature of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century One-hundred Percent movement is its active mix of conservative politics—typically, but not exclusively Republican politics—with revivalist Evangelical Christianity. It is a stark finding to recognize the same features echoing into the current century.

At the dawn of the twenty-first century, Professor Martin J. Medhurst challenged “individual discourse communities to form their own canons through the process of rhetorical archaeology—the recovery of texts and discourses central to the self-understanding and public expression of specific groups and movements.”1 Medhurst’s challenge is the basis for the Speaking of Religion book series, and Lewis rises to the challenge. Dr. Lewis is at her best as she unpacks the oratorical tradition of White Nationalism and its ugly sibling White supremacy. Here the reader is drawn to the unmistakable conclusion that religions, in this case specific threads of the Christian tradition, shape, influence, support, reinforce, and celebrate the link of faith with racial supremacy.

Professor Lewis is uniquely prepared to serve as pilot to this curated collection of texts, some in support of and others in opposition to One-hundred Percenters. Lewis, a scholar of rhetoric in the tradition of Kenneth Burke, has written extensively and thought deeply about racial supremacy, American nationalism, interracial animus, and the Christian faith. Dr. Lewis has authored multiple peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and conference papers as well as a significant scholarly monograph on these topics.2 She is a careful student of human communication who adheres to the highest ethical standards and professional expectations as she navigates the turbulent waters of race, religion, politics, and rhetoric. It is a fascinating voyage on which the reader is invited to embark.

May we listen carefully to the voices of the past as we chart our voyage into the future.

Daniel S. Brown, Jr.

Grove City, Pennsylvania

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NOTES

1. Martin. J. Medhurst, “The Contemporary Study of Public Address: Renewal, Recovery, and Reconfiguration,” Rhetoric & Public Affairs 4, no. 3 (2001): 505.

2. See for example, Camille K. Lewis, Romancing the Difference: Kenneth Burke, Bob Jones University, and the Rhetoric of Religious Fundamentalism (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2007); Camille K. Lewis, “Fundamentalism,” in Bloomsbury Companion to Studying Christians, eds. Stephen E. Gregg and George D. Chryssides, 2019; Camille K. Lewis, “ ‘Remove Not the Ancient Landmarks’: Making the Confederate Distortions of Religion Apparent,” in Rhetoric, ←x | xi→Race, Religion, and the Charleston Shootings: Was Blind but Now I See, eds. Sean Patrick O’Rourke and Melody Lehn (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019); Camille K. Lewis, “The Ku Klux Klan and the Bible,” Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception (Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter, 2017); Camille K. Lewis, “Publish and Perish: My Fundamentalist Education from the Inside-Out,” Kenneth Burke Journal, 2008.

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Acknowledgments

I am grateful to the series editor, Daniel Brown, for his initial idea for this volume, and for Ed Appel and Clarke Rountree’s early reading and guidance on the introductory chapter. All three men are gentlemen and scholars. The Furman University Humanities Development Fund granted the monies to employ Dillon Love who acquired the necessary copyright permissions and transcribed the digital copies of the artifacts for the volume. Jamie Gleeson edited an early draft. All their suggestions and contributions were helpful and welcome. The many rhetors who granted permissions were kind and supportive, and I have gained new friendships in the process.

I am also grateful to those rhetors who took umbrage at the mere suggestion that I include them in a volume on white nationalism and faith. Predictably, when I asked for permission to include artifacts that most dramatically prove the melding of white nationalism and faith, those rhetors were as pugnacious as Billy James Hargis and Carl McIntire. Their refusals themselves prove that at the intersection of politics, revivalism, and white supremacy little has changed in the United States since the Civil War—especially when a woman has the audacity to point out the obvious. I could not be more grateful to these gentlemen for their truculent evidence that when in Rome, we still need to do as the Greeks.

Camille K. Lewis

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Details

Pages
XIV, 154
ISBN (PDF)
9781433170775
ISBN (ePUB)
9781433170782
ISBN (MOBI)
9781433170799
ISBN (Softcover)
9781433170744
ISBN (Hardcover)
9781433170751
Language
English
Publication date
2020 (November)
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2020. XIV, 154 pp.

Biographical notes

Camille Kaminski Lewis (Volume editor)

Camille Kaminski Lewis is Visiting Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Furman University. She holds a Ph.D. from Indiana University in Rhetorical Studies and is the author of Romancing the Difference: Kenneth Burke, Bob Jones University, and the Rhetoric of Religious Fundamentalism.

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Title: White Nationalism and Faith