THEME: THE CHALLENGE OF DIVERSITY: A new wave of immigration brought much greater numbers of Roman Catholics and Jews, augmenting the growth of those religious traditions that had occurred in the 1840s and 1850s. They had to cope with an often hostile environment, battling for their place in American society as they adapted their traditions to American values and practices. At the same time Native Americans and African Americans, whether or not they were Protestants, faced racial discrimination and exclusion from the promise of American life, a moral challenge to dominant Protestantism.
Porterfield: essays 6 and 7deal with Catholic and Jewish adaptations to American life and are sources for Part I of this topic.
Porterfield: documents, 21 & 22 are American Catholic and Jewish primary sources.
Moore: # 6 is an essay on immigrant religion for Part I. Be sure to review #5, The African Future of Christianity (from the last syllabus topic), for Part II.
for Part II:
BECOMING AMERICAN & TRANSFORMING TRADITIONS
I. Catholics in
How did America
transform the RC Church?
II. Jews in Protestant America
Note on Immigration: From 1865 to 1914 immigrants poured into the country in amazing
numbers. From 1865 to 1900 13.5
million arrived. After the turn of the century the pace increased
with about 9,000,000 arriving
by 1910. These numbers become truly significant by keeping in mind that in 1865
the nation’s population was about 30,000,000.
PART II: EXCLUDED FROM THE AMERICAN DREAM
Religious Responses to Racism in American Life
Martin Marty (chapter 12) points out 19th century groups excluded from the American dream despite moral reform movements like abolitionism and feminism that developed in antebellum America. He gives only very little attention to women and Asians (especially Chinese) to focus on the two groups that represent America's continuing problem with race, African Americans and Native Americans.
The African-American Experience
After the Civil War African Americans found in the abolition of slavery a very incomplete emancipation. After Reconstruction in the South a system of legal discrimination and social control - Jim Crow laws - through segregation and voting restrictions kept the new freemen in poverty and on the periphery of social life. In the North, the antebellum tradition of discrimination and segregation continued. And the growth of a virulent pseudo-scientific racism (from the 1870s through the 1920s and beyond) provided a rationale for the practices of exclusion.
African Americans responded in various ways to these facts of life in the United States. In particular they found in the Black Church an institution that nourished their identity, organized movements for reform, and transmitted their spiritual heritage into the 20th century.
The Native American Experience
It is instructive to consider the differences between African-American and Native American experiences.