Review of Southern Crucifix, Southern Cross: Catholic-Protestant Relations in the Old South, by Andrew H.M. Stern.
Citing notable conflicts in Catholic-Protestant relations in the Old South, Stern uses detailed research to correct misconceptions and present a different viewpoint for these relationships in antebellum southern society. The antebellum dynamic allowed for a much more mutually supportive, Catholic-Protestant community relationship than was reflected in earlier historiography. He arranges the book topically around community, health care, education, worship, and governance. Readers tour communities where Roman Catholics and Protestants "worked together to create and sustain a way of life." Chapters weave topically related observations with support from documented events and narratives to offer the reader a glimpse into the religious complexities of these communities. Stern draws the conclusion that this was possible as the result of believers of all faiths being white and that they could do so precisely because they were white. The author directs this to a second conclusion that since this is the case with the “Catholic experience,” it shows “how conclusively race obliterated all other distinctions in the Old South.” The author’s narrowing from “Catholic-Protestant relations” which begins the book to a “Catholic experience” in his conclusion reflects the author’s emphasis in his writing. His inductive, historical style reads well and is supported with detailed documentation. His book will be appealing to those interested in deepening their understanding of the Antebellum South and its community relationships between Roman Catholics and Protestants of this period.
Pearson, Andrew L. Review of Southern Crucifix, Southern Cross: Catholic-Protestant Relations in the Old South, by Andrew H.M. Stern. Religious Studies Review 39 (December 2013): 287-288.