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Celebration of Black History Month: Reading of Southern Civil Religions

February 16, 2012

In honor of African American history month, Dr. Art Remillard, assistant professor of religious studies at Saint Francis University, will read from his recently published book, Southern Civil Religions, on Thursday, March 23, from 4:00- 5:00 p.m. The book is set in the aftermath of the Civil War and examines the discourses of an array of people and groups: blacks and whites, men and women, northerners and southerners, Democrats and Republicans, as well as Catholics, Protestants, and Jews.

In honor of African American history month, Dr. Art Remillard, assistant professor of religious studies at Saint Francis University, will read from his recently published book, Southern Civil Religions, on Thursday, March 23, from 4:00- 5:00 p.m. The book is set in the aftermath of the Civil War and examines the discourses of an array of people and groups: blacks and whites, men and women, northerners and southerners, Democrats and Republicans, as well as Catholics, Protestants, and Jews.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, the Lost Cause gave white southerners a new collective identity anchored in the stories, symbols, and rituals of the defeated Confederacy. Historians have used the idea of civil religion to explain how this powerful memory gave the white South a unique sense of national meaning, purpose, and destiny. Meanwhile, the civil religious perspectives of everyone else have gone unnoticed.

Focusing on the Wiregrass Gulf South region, he argues that the Lost Cause was one civil religious topic among many. Even within the white majority, civil religious language influenced many issues, including progress, race, gender, and religious tolerance. Moreover, minority groups developed sacred values and beliefs that competed for space in the civil religious landscape. The book delves into rumors of murderous gangs of blacks in the South, which led to lynchings; the murder of a Catholic priest in Birmingham in 1921, which became known as "The Trial of the Century."

Dr. Remillard will read a chapter about religion and race that examines the struggles of black Catholics living in the Jim Crow South. The event will be held on the Loretto campus in the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Arts building. For more information, contact 814-472-3372.