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The Religious History of American WomenReimagining the Past$
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Catherine A. Brekus

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780807831021

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807867990_brekus

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Unrespectable Saints Women of the Church of God in Christ

Unrespectable Saints Women of the Church of God in Christ

(p.161) 6 Unrespectable Saints Women of the Church of God in Christ
The Religious History of American Women

Anthea D. Butler

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter explores women's desire to live as faithful Christians by focusing on the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) women in the late nineteenth century. It considers the reasons for African American women's involvement in church work after the Civil War in order to highlight the personal meaning of religious experience. The chapter shows how women who constructed new identities by embracing sanctification and melding together various strands of evangelical belief, Victorian propriety, and progressive feminist activism were able to subvert some of the stigma of racism. It also looks at evangelical belief as a source of women's agency in the African American church. The chapter argues that becoming “saints” was the most important element of African American women's religious and social lives. It cites two COGIC women, Joanna P. Moore and Lizzie Robinson, as examples of how religion helped African American women of meager means to shape new identities.

Keywords:   sanctification, COGIC, African American women, evangelical belief, activism, racism, saints, Joanna P. Moore, Lizzie Robinson, religion

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