Stone Mountain: Monument to white supremacy

Stone Mountain

Rebecca Onion writes at Slate: “The Confederate memorial carving at Georgia’s Stone Mountain is etched with more than a century of racist history. But tearing it down won’t be easy.”

Here is a taste of her piece, “Hatred Set in Stone“:

The mother of all Confederate monuments looms in Georgia. It’s etched on the side of a 280-some-million-year-old monadnock: Stone Mountain, seven miles around at the base and covering 1,000 acres. The Confederate memorial carving—Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis on horseback—is on the north face, comprising 3 acres in area. It’s 400 feet above the ground; it’s the largest bas-relief carving in the world—blah, blah, blah, this thing is big.

The armed, mostly Black protesters who peacefully marched in Stone Mountain Park demanding the removal of the carving on the Fourth of July hit social media hard, but the idea that the carving, big (and legally protected) as it may be, needs to go has been gaining traction in recent years. In 2017, Stacey Abrams, then running for governor of Georgia, called for the carving to be removed. Richard Rose, president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP, interviewed by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Debra McKinney in 2018, called the carving “the largest shrine to white supremacy in the history of the world,” and said it should be brought down.

Read the rest here.

Even Trump is Criticizing Georgia Governor Brian Kemp

Virus Outbreak Georgia

Here is Rick Rojas at The New York Times:

President Trump on Wednesday criticized the decision of a political ally, Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, to allow many businesses to reopen this week, saying the move was premature given the number of coronavirus cases in the state.

“I want him to do what he thinks is right, but I disagree with him on what he is doing,” Mr. Trump said at a White House briefing. “I think it’s too soon.”

Mr. Kemp, a Republican, announced on Monday that he had cleared the way for what he described as a measured process meant to bolster the economy, as Georgia, like the rest of the nation, grapples with the devastation brought by the pandemic.

Yet the decision was immediately assailed, as public health experts, the mayors of Georgia’s largest cities and others warned that it stood to have perilous consequences. Mayors said the decision had caught them off-guard and questioned its wisdom. Business owners who were otherwise eager to revive their livelihoods said they would hold off.

The governor’s plan gives permission to gyms, hair and nail salons, bowling alleys and tattoo parlors to reopen on Friday. Then, on Monday, restaurants are allowed to resume dine-in service, and movie theaters and other entertainment venues can reopen.

“I love those people that use all of those things — the spas, the beauty parlors, barbershops, tattoo parlors,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday. “I love them. But they can wait a little bit longer, just a little bit — not much, because safety has to predominate.”

Read the rest here.

Trump wants to “liberate” the people in states with Democratic governors who have instituted strict stay-at-home orders. He has encouraged “open-the-economy” protests in state capitol cities such as Lansing and Harrisburg.  These protests have been little more than Trump political rallies.

Now, when diehard Trumper Brian Kemp decides to open Georgia’s economy, Trump says it is too soon. Which Trump will garner the loyalty of the protesters in Lansing and Harrisburg? Will it be the “liberate the economy” Trump or the “not yet, it’s too soon” Trump? Historians are going to have a field day with this president and his response to the COVID pandemic.  And it’s not going to be a pretty story.

Why We Should Not be Surprised by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s Decision to Open His State’s Economy

Some of you may remember Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. Earlier this month, he issued a stay-at-home order after learning for the first time that coronavirus could be spread by people who are not exhibiting symptoms. Kemp said he did not know the virus could spread this way until 24-hours before he issued the order. It was a strange and ignorant thing to say, since the Center for Disease Control had announced two months earlier that the virus could spread by people who are asymptomatic.  Read more here.

Now Kemp has decided to re-open his economy.  On Friday, gyms, barber shops, tattoo parlors, bowling alleys, restaurants, and movie theaters will be open in Georgia.  Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she was blindsided by this decision.

This Kemp campaign ad I posted above might explain a few things about him

 

What is Wrong With the Governor of Georgia?

Virus Outbreak Georgia

Here is CNN, located in Atlanta:

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said on Wednesday that new information on the spread of coronavirus influenced his decision to issue a stay-at-home order. In particular, Kemp pointed to what he said was the recent discovery that the virus can be spread by people who are not exhibiting symptoms.

“What we’ve been telling people from directives from the CDC for weeks now that if you start feeling bad stay home, those individuals could have been infecting people before they ever felt bad. But we didn’t know that until the last 24 hours,” said Kemp, a Republican.

Facts First: It’s not true that people didn’t know “until the last 24 hours” that individuals without symptoms could be infecting people with coronavirus. Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, said in mid-February that asymptomatic transmission of coronavirus was possible. Furthermore, studies from as early as January showed cases of coronavirus spreading amongst people with no symptoms.

Kemp’s press secretary said the governor was referring to an update that the CDC made to its guidance on March 30 that indicated there’s a higher risk of people without symptoms passing on the virus. The updated guidance changed the period of exposure risk for individuals from “onset of symptoms” to “48 hours before symptom onset.”

As more has been learned about the virus, several experts told CNN last month that it’s become clear that transmission by people who are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic is responsible for more transmission than previously thought.

Read the rest here.

We have known for two months that asymptomatic people can spread coronavirus. This is pure incompetence. As Dr. Sanjay Gupta just said on CNN, this governor is dealing with the greatest public health crisis of his life and he is claiming that he just learned this vital information 24 HOURS AGO?

Can a Bible Ooze 400 Gallons of Oil?

Dalton

It apparently did in Dalton, Georgia.  Here is a taste of Ruth Graham’s incredible piece at Slate:

In the summer of 2016, God gave Johnny Taylor a prophecy. It wasn’t a specific vision, but something more like a promise. After the presidential election that fall, so the prophecy went, God would begin to “position” Johnny and his group of friends to do great things. Months later, when Donald Trump won—no surprise to Johnny—God provided another message: After the inauguration, he said, “I’ll show you what I’m doing.”

Trump was inaugurated on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. On Monday night, as they did most evenings, Johnny and a small, informal prayer group met to pray in the backroom of a small Christian gift shop called Grace 251. Johnny’s girlfriend, Leslie, was there, along with her father, John Barker, and their friend Jerry Pearce and his wife, Joyce. They usually broke up by 8:30, but on this night they kept praying until after midnight. At one point, Jerry fell down on the floor for 45 minutes in a kind of catatonic state that he describes as being “out in the Spirit.” Within a few days, he told me, he opened his Bible to Psalm 39—an uneasy poem of both praise and gloom that includes the words “every man at his best state is but vapor”—and noticed a small spot of oil. Joyce assured him the grandkids hadn’t been near the book. It could only have come from God.

From then on, more oil appeared almost every time Jerry picked up the Bible, a leather-bound copy of the New King James translation. The oil moved to the back of the book, saturated the endpapers—a heart-shaped splotch appeared over a map of Israel—and then started at the beginning, in Genesis 1. Eventually Jerry had to put the book in a Ziploc bag, and then in a large plastic bin he bought at Tractor Supply.

News of the oil began to spread. The weekly prayer group started meeting in a larger room at the gift shop, then moved to a small performance space, and finally landed at a renovated movie theater downtown. Within three years, hundreds of people were gathering each week in the small town of Dalton, Georgia, to pray, socialize, and be healed. Believers say the translucent oil has cured skin conditions and cancer. They say it has generated crystals, changed color, and increased in volume—inching upward in the Tupperware container over the course of a few hours. They say small vials of oil refilled themselves overnight. “A Bible flowing with oil—something many are calling a modern miracle—continues to gather huge crowds,” the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported this past November. Some believers moved to Dalton to be closer to the revival; others drove hours every week to see the oil. Leslie’s father and his girlfriend got married in the prayer room. Meanwhile, the book kept oozing. By January 2020, Johnny and Jerry estimated that the Bible had produced more than 400 gallons of oil.

Read the rest here.  This sounds like a case for historian Darren Dochuk.

Doug Collins is Running for Senate in Georgia

Doug Collins

He became a national figure during the House impeachment hearings.  Now Georgia congressman Doug Collins is running for Senate.  Here is a taste of Richard Elliot’s piece at the website of WSB-TV in Atlanta:

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., made it official Wednesday that he is running for the U.S. Senate seat that Johnny Isakson had held.

Sen. Kelly Loeffler currently holds the seat after Gov. Brian Kemp’s handpicked her to fill it when Isakson resigned at the end of December.

Georgia evangelicals make up a big voting block in the Republican Party. Right now, the Faith and Freedom Coalition is keeping back and not taking an official stance on either candidate.

But that didn’t stop Kemp from asking them to support his pick for senator Wednesday.

Collins waiting until an appearance on “Fox and Friends” Wednesday morning to make the official announcement.

“I know there’s been some discussion about it, and I’ve been asked by y’all before about the Senate race down there, and I’m just going to confirm we’re in for the Georgia Senate race down here,” Collins said.

Collins is hoping for an endorsement from President Donald Trump.

Read the rest here.

Collins, you may recall, apologized for claiming on Fox News that Nancy and Pelosi and the Democrats cared more about Iranian military leader Qased Soleimani than American soldiers. He also said that the Democrats were in love with terrorists.

Collins is an evangelical Christian.  He has a Masters of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.  He served as the senior pastor of Chicopee Baptist Church.  He currently attends Lakewood Baptist Church in Lakewood, Georgia.

Stacy Abrams Meets With American Historians

Abrams

Stacy Abrams, who lost a very close race for Georgia governor in November, was in Philadelphia on Friday to talk to American historians in town for the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians.  The topic was voter suppression.  Here is a taste of  Jennifer Schuessler‘s piece at The New York Times:

...last Friday, Ms. Abrams dropped in on a much quieter venue: the Library Company of Philadelphia, founded in 1731 by Ben Franklin, which bills itself as the oldest cultural institution in the United States.

It wasn’t a stop on Ms. Abrams’s book tour. Instead, she was there to participate in an intimate two-hour conversation about the history of voter suppression with four leading scholars. It will be published next year by the University of Georgia Press as part of a new series called History in the Headlines, which aims to bring historical expertise to bear on today’s most hotly debated issues.The Trump era has been a red-alert moment for many historians, who have mobilized in the classroom, on op-ed pages and on social media to combat what they see as the erosion of democratic norms and an attack on truth itself.

For the conversation, the moderator, Jim Downs, a professor at Connecticut College, had recruited what he called a “dream team”: Carol Anderson, the author of “One Person, No Vote;” Heather Cox Richardson, an expert in the history of the Republican Party; Heather Ann Thompson, the author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning account of the Attica prison revolt; and Kevin Kruse, who has become famous for his epic Twitter threads smiting the dubious historical claims of pundits and politicians.

Before the event, they seemed galvanized at the prospect of talking with someone who has, as Mr. Kruse put it, skin in the game.

“When the email went out saying she was coming, I was like —,” Dr. Anderson, a professor at Emory University, said, clutching her heart. A few minutes later, Ms. Abrams approached.

Read the entire piece here.

The Author’s Corner with Ansley Quiros

9781469646763.jpgAnsley L. Quiros is an assistant professor of history at the University of North Alabama. This interview is based on her new book God with Us: Lived Theology and the Freedom Struggle in Americus, Georgia, 1942–1976 (The University of North Carolina Press, 2018). 

JF: What led you to write God With Us: Lived Theology and the Freedom Struggle in Americus, Georgia, 1942-1976?

AQ: As I pressed into the racial issues at the heart of American history, I began to think more about the South, particularly about the befuddling relationship between race and religion. These were issues that had long dogged at the corners of my consciousness as a child of the South, raised in Atlanta, but now I brought to them a historian’s perspective as well as native’s inquisitiveness. I wanted to see how exactly theological commitments animated not only the pursuit of racial justice but the opposition to it. And Americus was a perfect place to set this case study—notable for the presence of Koinonia Farm (an interracial Christian farming community founded in the 1940s), SNCC’s Southwest Georgia Freedom Project, the brutal, violent opposition to civil rights, and the deep religious commitments on all sides. I wanted to see how theological ideas took on flesh and blood, how they were incarnated in American life.

JF: In 2 sentences, what is the argument of God With Us: Lived Theology and the Freedom Struggle in Americus, Georgia, 1942-1976?

AQ: The struggle over civil rights was not, for many, just about lunch counters and waiting rooms or even access to the vote; it was also about Christian orthodoxy. God with Us examines this theological struggle through the story of one southern town–Americus, Georgia–where ordinary Americans both sought and confronted racial change in the twentieth century.

JF: Why do we need to read God With Us: Lived Theology and the Freedom Struggle in Americus, Georgia, 1942-1976?

AQ: In the past few years, it has become impossible to ignore the ways in which those who claim Christianity have also buttressed systems that uphold white supremacy. And this has been, for many evangelicals, shocking and dismaying. But it has a long history. This book contributes to understanding how these alliances came to be in the mid-twentieth century, how racism hides within certain theologies, sometimes in plain sight. But the book also, I think, offers hope. The courage of black and white activists for freedom and justice, the way that they refused to believe heresy but insisted on truth, is truly moving. And it may yet stir us to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly.

JF: When and why did you decide to become an American historian?

AQ: I suppose I had always been interested in big questions, and I had engaging, bright history teachers in high school who made me want to major in history when I went to college. At Furman University, I got to take a wide array of courses. My professors there encouraged me to consider graduate school and I ended up at Vanderbilt after I graduated. At Vandy, I had wonderful mentors and advisors, people who really taught me how to read and write history, how to harness my historical curiosity. And though I was interested in lots of different fields, I kept returning to questions about the American past, that compelling drama of freedom and exclusion. Even after all this time, I find the story of American history completely enthralling. I always tell my students, ‘I couldn’t make this up!’

JF: What is your next project?

AQ: I have two projects in the works. One is an exploration of the Atlanta street party known as Freaknik. It’s a wild story, but one that reveals much about the city of Atlanta, the rise of the black new South, and the limits of black governance in the multicultural 1990s. The other project is spiritual biography of Charles and Shirley Sherrod, racial justice activists who have spent their lives in Southwest Georgia. I guess I’m not done with Georgia yet!

JF: Thanks, Ansley!

Evangelicals Come to Stone Mountain

Stone Mountain

Wait–I thought evangelicals were racists and white supremacists?

Here is a taste of Josh Shepherd’s piece at Christianity Today:

Rising 825 feet over the skyline of Atlanta, Stone Mountain is the most-visited destination in the state of Georgia. On its north face, a carving in the granite wall depicts three figures central to the Confederacy: Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson.

Against this backdrop, observers might have puzzled over the scene unfolding on a recent Saturday at the top of the monument. An ethnically diverse crowd of more than 3,000 people, the majority under age 30, sang as a full rock band led the crowd in Christian praise songs.

Nearly all lifted their hands, shouted, and even danced as pop-rock worship music blasted from speakers. Then a black man in a bright red shirt with white letters reading Reconcile took the mic.

“Heaven is among us,” said Jonathan Tremaine Thomas, a young pastor from Ferguson, Missouri. “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Thomas was followed by civil rights leader John Perkins, who was followed by apologies from Christian leaders to two Jewish leaders for the history of Christian anti-Semitism, who were followed by declarations of forgiveness for Dylann Roof by family members of Charleston church shooting victims. And this was all in the first 150 minutes.

Read the rest here.

“It just never had been my ambition to be rich”

Plains

Check out Kevin Sullivan’s and Mary Jordan’s Washington Post piece on Jimmy Carter’s simple life in Plains, Georgia.  A taste:

Carter costs U.S. taxpayers less than any other ex-president, according to the General Services Administration, with a total bill for him in the current fiscal year of $456,000, covering pensions, an office, staff and other expenses. That’s less than half the $952,000 budgeted for George H.W. Bush; the three other living ex-presidents — Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama — cost taxpayers more than $1 million each per year.

Carter doesn’t even have federal retirement health benefits because he worked for the government for four years — less than the five years needed to qualify, according to the GSA. He says he receives health benefits through Emory University, where he has taught for 36 years.

The federal government pays for an office for each ex-president. Carter’s, in the Carter Center in Atlanta, is the least expensive, at $115,000 this year. The Carters could have built a more elaborate office with living quarters, but for years they slept on a pullout couch for a week each month. Recently, they had a Murphy bed installed.

Carter’s office costs a fraction of Obama’s, which is $536,000 a year. Clinton’s costs $518,000, George W. Bush’s is $497,000 and George H.W. Bush’s is $286,000, according to the GSA.

Read the entire piece here.  Carter calls Trump “a disaster.”

The “Ellis Island of the South”

Clarkston_City_Annex,_2016

Clarkston, Georgia, with a population of 13,000, has received over 40,000 refugees over the past twenty-five years.  Katy Long of The Guardian tells the story of this extraordinary town.

Here is a taste:

How does this happen? How does a dusty, working-class city in the south not only manage to house 1,500 refugees per year, but make their welcome integral to the town’s sense of identity?…

What made Clarkston work for refugees, Bollinger says, are the opportunities afforded by its high-density apartment complexes and good transport links. It’s easy to catch a vanpool to the chicken factories one hour north, where many of the refugees first find low-wage employment. This was why Clarkston was identified in the early 1990s as a good resettlement hub, and now these same attractions – low-cost housing and proximity to the interstate – are part of what’s helping to attract young American professionals priced out of Atlanta.

Many Clarkston residents point out the town was not always so hospitable to refugees: their arrival was initially resented by many locals. But older opponents of refugees have moved on or passed away, and have been replaced by younger liberals. Bollinger calls Mayor Terry, who was elected in 2013 at the age of 31, “the physical embodiment of that change of perspective”.

Those older locals who have remained seem content to live in parallel with their refugee neighbors. Betty Cardell, 93, who has lived in Clarkston since she arrived as a war bride from California in 1950, is philosophical: “Well, they’re here. So what you going to do? They’re people like we are. I’ve never had trouble.” She has no interest in leaving. “I like Clarkston: it’s still a small town.”

This small-town feel is both part of the reason Clarkston works – and a limiting factor. For refugees, Clarkston is a starter city. Success means moving on, leaving its apartment complexes behind.

Read the entire piece here.

The Author’s Corner with William Thomas Okie

georgia-peachWilliam Thomas Okie is Assistant Professor of History Education at Kennesaw State University. This interview is based on his new book, The Georgia Peach: Culture, Agriculture, and Environment in the American South (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

JF: What led you to write The Georgia Peach?

TO: I came to the project from two directions. As a scholar, I’m trained in environmental history, and so I’m fascinated with the ways we humans deal with the plants, animals, weather, and dirt we usually call “nature.” I started studying environmental history as the field was turning its attention to agriculture – arguably the most important site of human-nature interaction. When I got to graduate school, I found, to my surprise, that although we had books about oranges, rice, bananas, and tobacco (to name just a few), very little had been written about the peach, one of the South’s most visible agricultural symbols.

At the same time, the peach seemed like an obvious choice because of my childhood. Since I was very young, I’ve catalogued wildflowers, planted gardens, saved seeds, and experimented with asexual propagation. I grew up near the center of the Georgia peach industry, and my father was a stone fruit breeder (think peaches, plums, apricots) for the USDA experiment station in Byron, Georgia. I guess you could say – and I apologize in advance for this – that the peach didn’t fall far from the tree.

JF: In 2 sentences, what is the argument of The Georgia Peach?

TO: The Georgia Peach is famous because peaches emerged as a cash crop at a critical juncture for the South around the turn of the century, when evidence was mounting that the South was socially, environmentally, and culturally ugly. That historical phenomenon created the myth of the Georgia peach, which helps to explain the crop’s staying power as a cultural icon well into the twenty-first century – which in turn suggests that we routinely underestimate the power and the historical dimensions of beauty.

JF: Why do we need to read The Georgia Peach?

TO: I’ll give you two reasons. First, If you’ve ever wondered about the peachoid on I–85 (or its competitors on I–59 and I–75), or “The Peach State” moniker – especially if you’ve learned that California and South Carolina produce many more peaches than Georgia – then read this book to understand how Georgia became the peach state in the first place. Second, although it’s easy for the prosperous to forget in the midst of today’s “permanent global summertime” agriculture matters. The Georgia Peach examines the interplay of the biological and cultural features of a particular crop (especially the fruit’s perishability and popularity) with the economic and social features of a particular place (especially the cotton economy and the impoverished labor force on which that economy depended).

JF: When and why did you decide to become an American historian?

TO: I’ve always loved plants and animals; I’ve also always loved stories. As an undergraduate at Covenant College, I had the surprising privilege (the department had only three historians!) of taking Paul Morton’s American Environmental History course, which taught me that I could marry those two great loves in a field that told stories about nature. After graduating with a history degree, working as an administrative assistant, living in Honduras, and teaching middle school social studies, I decided to try studying further. American environmental history seemed like a natural fit, but it was also a practical choice: my first child was born just a few months before I started graduate study, and I knew that American archives would be easier to access.

JF: What is your next project?

TO: Right now I’m writing a piece about nineteenth-century horticulturists (fruit breeders, landscape designers, kitchen gardeners) as environmental thinkers and actors, which will hopefully give me a chance to work out some of the themes I could only touch on in The Georgia Peach. In the longer term, I’m working on an environmental history of Christian relief and development, in which I’ll examine the role of American non-governmental organizations and missionaries in imagining and reshaping the environments.

JF: Thanks, Tom!

Georgia on Her Mind

georgia

Does Hillary Clinton have a chance to win Georgia in November?  Her husband, Bill Clinton, was the last Democrat to win it.  He did that in 1992.  At the moment Clinton and Donald Trump are running even in the state.

In yesterday’s New York Times, Joseph Crespino, a history professor at Emory University, puts a possible Clinton victory in some historical perspective.

Here is a taste:

Atlanta — Recent polls show something that has caught even the most optimistic liberals by surprise: Hillary Clinton is tied with Donald J. Trump in Georgia, catching up with him in South Carolina and generally showing strength in traditionally Republican parts of the South. It seems like the Democratic dream come true — demographic changes are turning Southern states purple.

But this story has less to do with the future than the past, and both parties run a risk in misreading it. Mr. Trump’s racially charged hard-right campaign reveals a fault line in Republican politics that dates from the very beginning of G.O.P. ascendancy in the South.

The Republican’s Southern Strategy is one of the most familiar stories in modern American history: Beginning in the 1960s, the party courted white racist voters who fled the Democratic Party because of its support for civil rights.

But things were never quite so simple. Yes, racial reaction fed G.O.P. gains in the 1960s and ’70s. And yes, Barry Goldwater called it “hunting where the ducks are.”

What did that mean? Goldwater’s detractors understood it to mean that he was going after Dixiecrats, the Southern Democrats who had abandoned the party in 1948 over civil rights. Goldwater, however, maintained that he was going after college-educated white collar professionals who were building the modern Southern economy.

That was the vision he described in his speech at the Georgia Republican Convention in May 1964. G.O.P. success in the South, he argued, stemmed from “the growth in business, the increase in per capita income and the rising confidence of the South in its own ability to expand industrially and commercially.” Southern Republicanism, he said, was based on “truly progressive elements.”

Read the rest here.

Georgia Governor’s Veto of Religious Liberty Bill Reflects Baptist Battles

DealGeorgia Governor Nathan Deal is a Southern Baptist.  That is why he vetoed the Georgia House Bill 757.

Here is a description of that bill:

A BILL to be entitled an Act to protect religious freedoms; to amend Chapter 3 of Title 19 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to marriage generally, so as to provide that religious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion; to amend Chapter 1 of Title 10 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to selling and other trade practices, so as to change certain provisions relating to days of rest for employees of business and industry; to protect property owners which are religious institutions against infringement of religious freedom; to define a term; to provide an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

Essentially, the bill protects the opponents of gay marriage.

According to Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, this debate over HB 757 is representative of the longstanding debate over the identity of Georgia Baptists.   Deal represents those Baptists who have long defended the historic Baptist doctrine of separation of church and state.  In other words, the government should not be legislating morality–in this case the nature of marriage.  His opponents, apparently led by Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler, represents the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention that took place in the 1980s.

Here is a taste of Galloway’s piece:

…Tucked within the governor’s veto message on “religious liberty” legislation was a solid blow struck in the 35-year-old fight over what it means to be a Baptist in the South.

House Bill 757 was intended to offer legal protection to opponents of same-sex marriage. In his rejection of the measure, the governor went old-school Baptist. Danbury Baptist. Jefferson-and-the-wall-of-separation Baptist.

“I find it somewhat ironic that today some in the religious community feel it necessary to ask government to confer upon them certain rights and protections,” Deal said. “If indeed our religious liberty is conferred by God and not by man-made government, we should heed the ‘hands off’ admonition of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

When it comes to religion, even when legislatures try to do good, Deal said, “the inclusions and omissions” in the laws they draft can lead to trouble. “That is too great a risk to take,” he said.

If you were raised anything other than Southern Baptist, there’s a good chance you didn’t hear that dog whistle. Others did.

In the immediate aftermath of the veto, the governor was called a minion of the Antichrist and worse. But perhaps the sharpest criticism came from Albert Mohler, the president of the Louisville, Ky., seminary that serves as the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention.

In one of his daily podcasts, the seminary president declared Deal’s veto to be “fueled by a theological agenda,” as well as an economic one.

Read the entire article here.

The Author’s Corner with Geordan Hammond

Geordan Hammond is Senior Lecturer in Church History and Wesley Studies at Nazarene Theological College (Manchester, UK) and Director of the Manchester Wesley Research Centre. This interview is based on his new book, John Wesley in America: Restoring Primitive Christianity (Oxford University Press, July 2014).
JF: What led you to write John Wesley in America?
GH: The book has its origins in my doctoral thesis at The University of Manchester. I initially wanted to write on John Wesley’s relationship with America and Americans in his lifetime. Studying the two years he spent in the colony of Georgia as an Anglican missionary was the natural starting point for this project. When I got into the work on Georgia I increasingly became fascinated with the subject and realized that a lot of sources are available, many of which had scarcely been used by past biographers of Wesley and some never before used by them. Studying Wesley in Georgia fit well with my interests in history, theology, and missionary work.   
JF: In 2 sentences, what is the argument of John Wesley in America?
GH: I argue that the Georgia mission, for Wesley, served as a laboratory for implementing his views of primitive Christianity. His aim of restoring the doctrine, discipline, and practice of the early church in the primitive Georgia wilderness was the central motivating factor in his decision to embark for Georgia and in his clerical practice in the colony. 
JF: Why do we need to read John Wesley in America​?
GH: This question could be answered in a variety of ways depending on the interests of the individual reader. It is the first book-length study of John Wesley’s experience in America. In the past, the majority of Wesley scholars have seen his Georgia mission as a ‘failure’ leading to his evangelical conversion not long after he returned to England from the colony. I argue for the importance of evaluating Wesley’s time in Georgia in its own right. I think a contextual study of Wesley in Georgia presents more areas of ‘success’ than scholars have often realized, and also helps to reveal more continuity with Wesley’s post-Georgia ministry and theology than has often been recognized. For those interested in the eighteenth-century Church of England, the book demonstrates the depth of influence of Anglican High Churchmen and Nonjurors on Wesley’s conception and practice of primitive Christianity. I document the connections between Wesley’s participation in the revival of patristic scholarship at Oxford and his clerical practice in Georgia. Wesley’s vision for restoring primitive Christianity had a dominant effect on his relationships in Georgia. For anyone interested in the history of colonial Georgia, the book contributes to our knowledge of religion and politics in the colony.   
JF: When and why did you decide to become an American historian?
GH: Thanks for calling me ‘an American historian’! I decided to become a historian as an undergraduate at Point Loma Nazarene University after a long process of discernment and elimination of other possibilities. When I chose a vocation in history it felt like coming back home as I recalled the interest in history I developed as a child through the stories my grandfather told me. At Fuller Theological Seminary I combined my love for history and theology. So I became a church historian—a vocation that includes the history of American Christianity. While I teach a wide-range of church history from early to modern, my primary areas of research and writing are on John Wesley, early Methodism, the Church of England in the eighteenth century, and the Evangelical Revivals in their international contexts. Being a historian gives me the tools to better understand my heritage in the Wesleyan tradition and to help shape it for the future.
JF: What is your next project?

GH: I am one of the organizers through the Manchester Wesley Research Centre of the ‘George Whitefield at 300’ conference this June 25-27 at Pembroke College, Oxford (where Whitefield was a student). The conference will feature over forty papers on aspects of Whitefield’s life, context, and legacy. My next publishing project will be co-editing a book featuring select papers from the conference. Part of my ongoing publishing work includes serving as co-editor of the journal Wesley and Methodist Studies.   

JF:  Thanks, Geordan!

Randall Balmer Spends an Afternoon With Jimmy Carter

Religion & Politics is running a piece by Randall Balmer describing a Sunday he spent with Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter while conducting research for his new book Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter.  Here is a taste:

In the course of our interview in the pastor’s study, after church and photographs on the side lawn, Carter declared himself “honored” to be numbered among such progressive evangelicals as Charles Grandison Finney and William Jennings Bryan. Mark Hatfield, he said, “was a kind of hero of mine.” Carter characterized Hatfield as “a genuinely devout believer in Christ who sought to put Christ’s teachings into practice.” Carter also acknowledged that his own defeat in 1980 followed by Hatfield’s retirement from the Senate in 1997 had left a void, at least among elected officials. Carter lamented the “new definition” of evangelicalism that had taken hold, one associated with “rightwing Christianity.” He recalled hearing about Jerry Falwell “giving me a hard time” in 1976, but his was just a lonely voice at the time; Falwell and his associates, however, “had remarkable success in four years in making that a driving force in American political history.” When did the president have a sense of the gathering storm as he prepared for reelection? Carter remembered that his sister, Ruth Carter Stapleton, “told me that there was a stirring of animosity toward me because of some of the moderate positions I had taken on human rights and so forth and that they thought I had betrayed their own definition of Christianity. But I didn’t really see it as a serious thing until the altercation arose in the Southern Baptist Convention.” After the conservative takeover in 1979, he said, he began to recognize the ramifications of the evangelical shift away from progressive evangelicalism.

See our interview with Balmer here.  For more coverage of the book at The Way of Improvement Leads Home click here and here.

Tom Okie Wins Nevins Prize

Congratulations to Tom Okie, the winner of the Allan Nevins Dissertation Prize.  The Nevins prize is given by the Society of American Historians to the best-written doctoral dissertation in American history.  Tom’s dissertation is titled “Everything is Peaches Down in Georgia: Culture and Agriculture in the American South.”

Tom just finished a year teaching in the history department at Bowdoin College and has accepted a position in the history department at Kennesaw State University.  But perhaps more importantly, he is a friend of the blog and a former student of my friend and co-editor Jay Green at Covenant College.

Congratulations, Tom Okie!

The Georgia State Archives Will Remain Open

This is a nice victory for the historical community.

You may recall that we did a post on this story back in September.  In case you have not heard, it now appears that the Georgia State Archives will remain open.  Here is an update from The National Coalition for History:

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Secretary of State Brian Kemp announced in October that the state will restore funding to keep the Georgia State Archives open until the end of the state’s fiscal year on June 30, 2013. Public pressure put on the governor by archivists, historians and other stakeholders clearly motivated Deal’s commitment to keep the Archives open. 

This agreement also allows the archives to retain its current hours of operation, which had been slated to be severely curtailed. Under the plan, the University System of Georgia will assume control of the Georgia Archives on July 1, 2013, pending approval of the state’s General Assembly. Existing archival staff will be supplemented by staff from the University System. The Secretary of State eliminated seven of the 10 positions at the State Archives on November 1.

The crisis was precipitated in September when Secretary of State Kemp announced he was closing the State Archives to the public on November 1 due to across-the-board budget cuts mandated by Governor Deal to close budget shortfalls. 

On September 21, the National Coalition for History (NCH), the American Historical Association, and other constituent groups sent letters to the Governor opposing the budget cuts and denial of access to the Archives. It also generated tremendous media attention, including articles in the New York Times and Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The situation in Georgia should be a cautionary tale for all historians. As we’ve seen at the federal level, historical, archival, educational and preservation programs have increasingly been seen as easy targets by budget cutters because they are perceived as not having a broad constituency. Our community must remain vigilant and proactive in making the case that historical and archival programs are a public necessity, not a luxury.

The AHA Weighs In on the Georgia State Archives Closure

A few days ago we reported on the upcoming closure of the Georgia State Archives.  I am happy to say the American Historical Association and historians around the country are mobilizing to preserve full access to the archives for scholars and the general public.

See James Cobb’s piece at Maureen Downey’s blog and AHA executive director Jim Grossman’s letter to Georgia governor Nathan Deal.

I have printed Grossman’s letter below:

Dear Governor Deal:

I write on behalf of the American Historical Association—the leading organization of historians in the United States—to express our grave concern about plans to effectively close the Georgia Archives.

An early and active proponent of state archives laws in the United States, the AHA remains committed to the preservation of our heritage, and to its accessibility. We understand that a shortage of financial resources has forced the state to make some difficult financial choices, and that in such situations, everyone claims that their particular activity is sacrosanct. The Georgia Archives, however, tells the story of all Georgians. Genealogists, students, historians, journalists: all require access to these vital records to participate in the preservation of the state’s heritage and the practical use of its past.

Beyond the interests of historical researchers stand a wide variety of civic-minded Georgians who depend on open access to archives. Teachers, lawyers, real estate developers, leaders of neighborhood associations—all rely not only on the vital records housed in the Georgia Archives, but on the expert advice of its archivists.

The records of any government represent the heritage of its people, and can serve that role only when its citizens have access to consult those records. Closing the doors to the Archives would represent a devastating blow not only to historians, genealogists, and others with an interest in the past, but also the state’s policymakers and leaders who need a solid understanding of the past to help shape Georgia’s future. 

I urge you to reconsider this decision, and to work with the Secretary of State to allocate resources that will enable this vital service to remain open and accessible to all.

Best regards,
James R. Grossman
Executive Director