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After RedemptionJim Crow and the Transformation of African American Religion in the Delta, 1875-1915$
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John M. Giggie

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195304039

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195304039.001.0001

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Fraternal Orders, Disfranchisement, and the Institutional Growth of Black Religion

Fraternal Orders, Disfranchisement, and the Institutional Growth of Black Religion

(p.59) 2 Fraternal Orders, Disfranchisement, and the Institutional Growth of Black Religion
After Redemption

John M. Giggie (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter studies how Delta blacks expanded the organizational basis of their religion during the late 1800s by integrating dimensions of African American fraternal culture into their spiritual lives. Thousands of Delta black men joined the Masons, Odd Fellows, and Knights of Pythias in order to tap into their health and burial insurances, employment opportunities, social functions, and ritual life. The popularity of these secret societies, however, angered many churchgoers. Black women complained that fraternal orders represented a new black civic culture open only to men. Many clerics feared a loss of financial support and moral authority as their male congregants devoted much of their time and money to local fraternal orders. Conflict died down by 1900, though, as fraternal leaders openly stressed subservience to churches in spiritual matters and some lodges fell into financial ruin. But churches changed, too. In a bid to boost their popular appeal, churches began to incorporate the most salient and attractive features of fraternal life, such as life and burial insurance, while most women and preachers grudgingly accepted the role of lodges as a new and legitimate source of African American religious life.

Keywords:   African American fraternal orders, religion, church, secret societies, Masons, Odd Fellows, burial insurance

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