Southern Strategies: Preaching, Prejudice, and Power


  • Angelia R. Wilson Senior Lecturer for the School of Social Sciences, The University of Manchester; Manchester, United Kingdom



This paper considers how 'preaching prejudice' builds a constituency of like-minds by marginalizing others-on grounds of race and sexuality, for example-and then instructs this constituency regarding political behavior. This discussion is part of a larger project on the construction of social values for political gain but here I specifically draw attention to the historical racism marking much of Protestant messaging in the American South and to how this racism became the foundation for the Republican Southern Strategy from the 1970s onwards. In doing so, I take as a case study the well documented racism associated with the history of the Southern Baptist Convention. The SBC historical narrative exemplifies the racism which underpinned the Southern Strategy. This is interesting because the SBC continues to be a key political actor among social conservatives in the South. This historical narrative indicates how 'preaching prejudice' became a political tool fueling the racism of Nixon's campaign and seasoning subsequent campaigns. The paper then suggests that the most recent innovation of this familiar, well honed political tool can be located in contemporary discourse on same-sex marriage.


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