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Religion, Murder, and the Confederate Battle Flag in South Carolina

Religion, Murder, and the Confederate Battle Flag in South Carolina SPECIAL FORuM ON ThE ChARLESTON MASSACRE OF 2015 GERALd R. WEBSTER University of Wyoming JONAThAN I. LEIB Old Dominion University Contentious debates over the meaning and appropriate display of Confederate symbols have been waged across the American South for the past three decades (Leib and Webster 2007). While these debates are clearly racialized, they are also imbued with religious arguments and fervor ( 2002, 2012). One major reason is the aggressive religiosity characterizing the South's cultural landscape, in which religion plays a central role in social, economic and political relations (Webster 1997). While less well understood, it is also the case that many white southerners saw the Civil War as a religious conflict against Northern apostasy. As Wilson (1995, 19) states, "Ministers and churches . . . insisted that the Confederacy was a crusade against the evil empire of the Yankee. It was a holy war." As a result, Confederate symbols like the battle flag and heroic figures like Robert E. Lee took on religious overtones that continue to exist today among traditional white southerners.1 The debate over the Confederate flag in South Carolina has been waged for over two decades, with particularly vitriolic arguments about the continued http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Southeastern Geographer University of North Carolina Press

Religion, Murder, and the Confederate Battle Flag in South Carolina

Southeastern Geographer , Volume 56 (1) – Mar 18, 2016

Religion, Murder, and the Confederate Battle Flag in South Carolina


SPECIAL FORuM ON ThE ChARLESTON MASSACRE OF 2015 GERALd R. WEBSTER University of Wyoming JONAThAN I. LEIB Old Dominion University Contentious debates over the meaning and appropriate display of Confederate symbols have been waged across the American South for the past three decades (Leib and Webster 2007). While these debates are clearly racialized, they are also imbued with religious arguments and fervor ( 2002, 2012). One major reason is the aggressive religiosity characterizing the South's cultural landscape, in which religion plays a central role in social, economic and political relations (Webster 1997). While less well understood, it is also the case that many white southerners saw the Civil War as a religious conflict against Northern apostasy. As Wilson (1995, 19) states, "Ministers and churches . . . insisted that the Confederacy was a crusade against the evil empire of the Yankee. It was a holy war." As a result, Confederate symbols like the battle flag and heroic figures like Robert E. Lee took on religious overtones that continue to exist today among traditional white southerners.1 The debate over the Confederate flag in South Carolina has been waged for over two decades, with particularly vitriolic arguments about the continued flying of the battle flag over the state capitol dome beginning in the latter part of the 1990s. In 2000, a legislative compromise led the state to move the battle flag off the capitol dome to a Confederate soldier's monument on the state capitol grounds ( 2001, Leib and Webster 2004). The compromise was strongly criticized by many on both sides of the issue, with African American legislators supporting the compromise being characterized as "weak-kneed" and white supporters of the compromise labeled as "turncoats" ( 2001, 294). The debate over whether the battle flag should remain flying on public space on the South Carolina capitol's grounds remained at a standstill for fifteen...
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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © The Southeastern Division, Association of American Geographers.
ISSN
1549-6929
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Abstract

SPECIAL FORuM ON ThE ChARLESTON MASSACRE OF 2015 GERALd R. WEBSTER University of Wyoming JONAThAN I. LEIB Old Dominion University Contentious debates over the meaning and appropriate display of Confederate symbols have been waged across the American South for the past three decades (Leib and Webster 2007). While these debates are clearly racialized, they are also imbued with religious arguments and fervor ( 2002, 2012). One major reason is the aggressive religiosity characterizing the South's cultural landscape, in which religion plays a central role in social, economic and political relations (Webster 1997). While less well understood, it is also the case that many white southerners saw the Civil War as a religious conflict against Northern apostasy. As Wilson (1995, 19) states, "Ministers and churches . . . insisted that the Confederacy was a crusade against the evil empire of the Yankee. It was a holy war." As a result, Confederate symbols like the battle flag and heroic figures like Robert E. Lee took on religious overtones that continue to exist today among traditional white southerners.1 The debate over the Confederate flag in South Carolina has been waged for over two decades, with particularly vitriolic arguments about the continued

Journal

Southeastern GeographerUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Mar 18, 2016

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