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Religion And Race

African and European Roots in Conflict - A Jamaican Testament


Winston Lawson

Religion and Race: African and European Roots in Conflict - A Jamaican Testament is an investigation of the significant role of three churches, both European and Afro-Jamaican, and how their theologies, cosmologies, and cultural norms influenced the development of Jamaican colonial society. This study focuses on the dramatic interplay between the socio-cultural assumptions and values of the dominant planter groups and those of their Afro-creole workers, and the persistent problems that resulted from the perennial clash of such competing value systems, especially from 1823 to the early 1830s. Special attention is given to the role of key factors of culture, colour, and race, all operating within a distinctly religious framework that variously challenged or reinforced the status quo. The parallels with the 1831 Nat Turner rebellion in the U.S.A. are noted and the implications for social harmony raised.

«We are in Dr. Lawson's debt for creatively revisiting the struggle of the people in Jamaica for identity and dignity. He chronicles for us the role of the Church as a human institution with its weaknesses and shortcomings, yet a Church in which every now and then the liberating possibilities of the gospel of Jesus Christ emerged to the fore in ways that providentially set both oppressors and oppressed free. This work is a gem, not only through its incisive logic and penetrating insights, but through the wealth of primary sources used to craft its main argument. It is required reading for all students of history and religion.» (Noel Leo Erskine)
«For those who have been waiting for a contemporary and definitive treatment of nineteenth-century Jamaica's colonial and religious tradition, the clash between European and African cultural elements, and the dilemma and repercussions that conflict produced for the Anglican, Methodist, and Baptist Churches of the period, Winston Arthur Lawson has provided it. The analysis and interpretation he offers in this well-documented study fully clarifies the way creative adaptations were made to missionary Christianity by persons of African ancestry. While recognizing the foundational work of others who have written on this problem and period, Winston Lawson has gone further and has supplied information and an assessment not available before, or not as adequately researched and evaluated. This illuminating history is a tour de force.» (James Earl Massey, Dean Emeritus and Distinguished Professor-at-Large, Anderson University School of Theology)