Review of Born of Conviction

Born of Conviction: White Methodists and Mississippi's Closed Society, Joseph T. ReiffThe Alternative Witness of “the Twenty-Eight” to 1960’s Segregation

The Southern white church of the civil rights era is remembered for its intense resistance to change. Yet twenty-eight white Methodist pastors published a statement entitled “Born of Conviction” advocating an alternative witness to the segregationist party line and causing a serious rift in the public unanimity of Mississippi white resistance. Joseph T. Reiff’s Born of Conviction tells their story, examining their theologies and personal convictions, experiences before, during, and after the publication, and overall impact on the racial climate in Mississippi’s closed society.

In his review of Born of Conviction, Colin B. Chapell of the University of Memphis writes:

“This narrative moves effortlessly between an individual and institutional focus, a great strength of the book. Readers will walk away understanding the issues facing the Methodist Church in the 1960s, while simultaneously seeing how individuals fit into that larger picture. There are occasional moments when individual biographies of pastors blur the larger story, and extended vignettes may distract some readers. However, in detailing the lives of so many individuals, Reiff presents a balanced picture of the power of a principled, faith-based stand…

Born of Conviction is a nuanced, mature study that takes the faith stances of both progressives and segregationists seriously.”

For more information on Reiff’s book, click here. To read Chapell’s full review, click here.

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