Strangers in Zion

In Strangers in Zion: Fundamentalists in the South, 1900-1950 William R. Glass tells the story of the growth of Protestant fundamentalism in the American South and the subsequent conflicts between different branches of the movement. Glass argues that despite the generally conservative character of Southern society and religion, fundamentalists during 1900-1950 had difficulty making a home for themselves in the South, although they did gain a foothold through building a network of conferences, churches, and schools. These institutions, though, provoked the first sustained reaction by other Southern denominations against the fundamentalist presence in their midst. In these same years, a theologically liberal faction of the fundamentalist movement began to take a prominent role in influencing policy and ascended to leadership positions of educational institutions and mainstream Southern denominations. The result was the introduction of fundamentalist controversy among Southern Protestants. These battles, particularly those among Southern Baptists and Southern Presbyterians, fostered the establishment of ongoing factions determined to resist and reverse the penetration of liberal theologies in their churches. In this way, Glass points to the origins of the current crisis among Baptists in the South as being much earlier than anyone else has suggested.