The Southernization of New England churches


Pundits and sociologists have noticed over the last forty years that characteristics usually associated with Southern culture have migrated to the rest of the nation. Some have said that the Civil War finally ended and that the South won.

We can see this influence in the rise of country music and Southern foods, the increasing economic and political power of the Southern states, and now the increasing Southernization of "northern" churches, with the rise of Evangelical Christianity.

The Boston Globe notes:

Pastor Tim Pittman is part of a wave of Southern Baptists transforming New England religious redoubts. In towns across northern New England, they have arrived to minister to churches without pastors in places where dwindling congregations has meant shrunken church funds.

The Southern pastors come with missionary zeal, a willingness to work for a pittance, and a conservative philosophy notably different from the more liberal New England religious tradition. Their arrival marks the melding of cultures that have been separate since the time of the Civil War, when Southern Baptists broke with their northern brethren.

And yet Vermonters —— to the surprise of the Southerners and themselves —— have embraced Pittman and others, warming to their manner and message.

Ed Lasky   9 28 04