Mar 8, 2012

Socialists & pentecostals: radicals together in 1910s Missouri

"Dynamic crosscurrents -- social, cultural, ideological, and political -- linked the rural socialist movement to the thriving Pentecostal tent revivals that were then attracting rural poor people throughout the area. Here were socialists praising, joining with, and using the same scripture as Pentecostals; there were Pentecostals preaching at revival meetings to groups of socialists and other workers, and then joining with them to threaten and beat up a despised plantation owner. Finally, there were socialists and Pentecostals in court together, and later in jail, as local elites worked to eliminate them as threats. Both sets of radicals -- religious and political -- were considered equally dangerous by the dominant classes. These findings confounded my understanding at the time on two counts, namely that socialists were uninterested in religion and that southern Christians, especially Pentecostals, were resolutely apolitical, if not outright antagonistic to worldly affairs."

Jarod Roll, "Reading Religious Belief as Working-Class Religious History," in the Journal of Southern Religion.

The latest edition of the journal has a really interesting roundtable on the question: "How might the study of religion in the early twentieth-century South appear differently if scholars emphasized class as a category of analysis?"

I need to read Roll's book: I might have to re-consider my disbelief in the possibility of pentecostal social justice.