Bare, Daniel Robert (2018-04). Protestant Fundamentalism in the Black Community, 1915-1940. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • This dissertation illuminates and elucidates the ways that Protestant fundamentalism was manifested and applied in the African American community during the modernist-fundamentalist controversy, from 1915-1940. In contrast to the prevailing literature, which tends to view the fundamentalist movement as essentially white and entirely distinct from the context of black Protestantism, I argue that during this period many members of the African American community consciously and intentionally articulated a fundamentalist theological perspective. Yet even as certain black Protestants conveyed a theological commitment to fundamentalism that aligned closely with that expressed by their white counterparts, their particular racial context motivated them to live out these religious convictions in ways that often distinguished them from white fundamentalists. This analysis emerges from a historical-theological approach that first examines doctrinal specifics being espoused - taking theological claims and theological actors seriously on their own terms - and second situates these theological claims within their relevant historical context. This work offers several contributions to the scholarship of both fundamentalism and African American religious history. First, it identifies fundamentalist voices within black churches, thus challenging the prevailing perception that Protestant fundamentalism was an exclusively white religious project. Second, it demonstrates that the conservative theology of fundamentalism was not necessarily tied exclusively to a conservative social and political agenda, as scholars often assume; in fact, some black preachers overtly fought against the oppressive hand of Jim Crow by offering progressive social and political applications of their conservative fundamentalist theology. Third, by identifying black fundamentalists who used their religious platforms to combat racial injustice in a variety of ways, this work challenges the commonly assumed association between theologically conservative religion and social accommodationism/passivity within the black church.

publication date

  • April 2018