This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

“The Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man”: The Social Gospel Interracialism of the Southern Sociological Congress




Boshears, James Joseph, Jr.

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Scholars have long debated the nature and extent of the social gospel movement’s influence on southern religion. The Southern Sociological Congress’ (SSC) rhetoric and actions demonstrated the blending of southern pietistic evangelicalism’s emphasis on spirituality with liberal theology’s accent on ecumenism, social service, and community. Adding credence to claims of a social gospel movement in the South, the SSC’s adaptive theology also challenged the notion of a static and definitive social gospel fitting prescribed parameters. SSC delegates adjusted the movement’s tenets to their ethical reality, a move that challenges commonly held notions about the SSC and contributes to a more inclusive understanding of the social gospel. As they reshaped social gospel beliefs to address regional social ills, SSC delegates melded southern evangelical spirituality with liberal theology’s insistence on social action, focusing most intently on racial ills. Emphasizing the interconnectedness of African Americans and southern whites, SSC delegates embraced a southern social gospel interracialism that battled the most egregious injustices of the segregated system.