Soul Liberty: The Evolution of Black Religious Politics in Postemancipation Virginia

Nicole Myers Turner. Univ. of North Carolina, $29.95 (232p) ISBN 978-1-4696-5522-2
Turner, assistant professor of religious studies at Yale University, debuts with a masterful exploration of post-Emancipation black religious life in Virginia. She argues that, post-Emancipation, African-Americans were interested in their political and bodily liberty and also their “soul liberty”—the freedom to worship and govern their places of worship by their community standards. As explained by Turner, there is a rich nexus of interaction between these two spheres; freedom of worship corresponded directly to political and social liberties. Turner explores how religious organizing then allowed for black involvement in electoral politics, as well as black community-building in postbellum Virginia. After a broad survey of post-Emancipation “religious liberty,” Turner narrows her focus to independent black church conventions and congregations. In the final chapters she turns to broader questions of theological education, gender, and political engagement, including an illuminating analysis of the dynamics that led to the uniting of the Zion Union Apostolic Church with the Episcopal Church in 1878. Turner handles her immense amount of research masterfully, and many academic readers will want to take note of the two open-access digital versions of the text, which provide enhanced features such as data sets and maps. This is a must-read for those interested in the evolution of black religious life in America. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 02/13/2020
Release date: 03/23/2020
Genre: Religion
Paperback - 232 pages - 978-1-4696-5523-9
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