Religion as a Major Organizing Ideology to the Social and Political Reality of the Nineteenth-Century

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Religious scholar, Stephen Prothero, sees religion as a major organizing ideology to the social and political reality of the nineteenth-century. For Prothero, there is a close and intimate ideological relation between theological beliefs and a culture; therefore, they are not separable from characterizing the religious mood of the nineteenth-century. Prothero argues that many Americans were, “inspired by [the] republican rhetoric of liberty and equality, and by a popular revolt against deference and hierarchy” (47). This liberalizing spirit applied to the religious, political, and domestic spheres inspired women to protest against the narrow role to which they had been consigned by the existing hierarchy. The well-defined strictures of religion, like the law, were structured in dominance; black women encountered its hegemony in both their gendered and racial construction and white women principally by their gender. However, both groups consciously reshaped the organizing framework of religion to diminish its ordering of their lives within the public and private sphere. Prothero posits that while “The Bible remained authoritative [. . .] Americans insisted on interpreting it for themselves” (47), especially women who lived under its patriarchal construction. “In that effort,” Prothero continues “they were assisted by a new culture hero: the populist preacher, who combined evangelicalism and egalitarianism in daring new ways” (47). Prothero maintains that it was “the rise of pulpit storytelling” (51) that allowed such reimagining of religious ideology. Prothero goes on to argue that the “story sermon” (51) as a rhetorical style “did not catch on as fast in New England as it did in the South and the West (51),” a point ... ... middle of paper ... ...h 2009. McCurry, Stephanie. “The Two Faces of Republicanism: Gender and Proslavery Politics in Antebellum South Carolina.” The Journal of American History 78 (1992): 1245-1264. Mountford, Roxanne. The Gendered Pulpit: Preaching American Protestant Spaces. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 2003. Pitney, David Howard. The Afro-American Jeremiad: Appeals for Justice in America. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1990. Prothero, Stephen. American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003. Rich, Adrienne. “When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Revision.” On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose 1966-1978. New York: Norton, 1978. Ring, Nancy C.,et. al. “Scriptures, Canons, and Creeds.” Introduction to the Study of Religion. MaryKnoll: Orbis Books, 1998: 178-207.

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