Christian Citizenship and Political Equality, 1867–1874
When Reconstruction brought legal recognition of black citizenship and civil and political rights, causing stronger reactions from white southerners, Black and white Christians articulated divergent concepts of Christian citizenship. Black citizens argued that Christian citizenship united their religious and political identity behind their claims to equal civil and political rights. Their independent churches supported Republican politicians, and Black clergy argued that religious and civic duty demanded political engagement. At the same time, white southerners reimagined Christian citizenship as a white-run paternalism, rooted in proslavery ideals, that promised an apolitical path to godly social order. The creation of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church attempted to bring these distinct models of black and white Christian citizenship together in a tenuous partnership.
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