Of recent articles concerning the clergy of the Deep South, some have been instructive and informative, others have been neither. Even the most helpful of articles have shown little appreciation of the real situation that is faced by the clergy of the Deep South.
A historian who has devoted his life to the history of the South remarked recently that it was difficult for him to read the southern daily papers and remember that he was reading contemporary newspapers, so closely did they resemble papers of Richmond in 1844. Unless we appreciate the mood of the South in these days, we can hardly evaluate accurately the crisis facing the clergy there.
Both liberals and conservatives in the South are facing dilemmas that call for basic revaluation of ideas which in another generation seemed sound. It should not be assumed that the liberal is the only one meeting new and soul-searching problems amidst the bombings, boycotts, and court rulings. (It seems that most of the clergy of the Deep South are facing winds that put new parts in their hair.) As one who assumes that the clergy of the Deep South are no better and no worse than the other clergy of America, I should like to share some of the conclusions I have drawn from a study of the situation in Alabama, before the Deep South clergy are read out of the Church as “liberals who have no concept of sin” or as “hopeless mossbacks.”
CHURCH AND STATE
The relationship of Church and State poses the most agonizing situation which the southern clergy of any theological stripe have to face. In their present attitudes toward the problem of Church and State, conservatives and liberals have switched camps. Fortresses formerly manned by the liberals are now defended by the conservatives. Ideas long ...1
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