The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980 Page: 30
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
were blind to the injustice inherent in the racial patterns of the South,
and thus had given little thought to racial policies before the Brown
case, others, even before the 1954 Court decision, had been urging fel-
low churchmen to broaden their social horizons and come to terms with
the problem of race. It was Baptists of this latter persuasion who forged
the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of
Texas, and through it grappled with social issues, including racial in-
justice. These Texas Baptists, several of whom ultimately exerted influ-
ence in regional denominational circles, further demonstrated that if
social Christianity was to be successful in the South it would have to be
rooted in a conservative theology. This in turn tends to support recent
studies attesting that the social gospel of the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries was compatible with conservative southern Chris-
tianity.2 The 1954 desegregation decision was thus applauded by some
Texas Baptists, while it compelled others to reappraise their racial
The editor of the Baptist Standard, David H. Gardner, who had pre-
viously attributed the South's racial troubles to outside "racial rabble
rousers" and "ill-advised agitators," observed that whether one liked
the Supreme Court decision on desegregation or not, it was "now the
law of the land, a fact which we must face and adjust ourselves to as good
citizens and loyal Americans." The Texas journalist, moreover, cau-
tioned against actions detrimental to the public schools. "The idea of
abolishing our public school system is unthinkable," he wrote, for "such
a course would . . . doom many youths of today and the future to live
in ignorance, and [thus] imperil the nation."3
But Gardner was typical of those Baptists who found it difficult to ad-
just to the racial changes wrought by the judicial process. In a barbed
editorial in October, 1954, the Texan declared that "we have never sub-
scribed to the absurd and antiquated theory of the infallibility of popes,"
and neither "do we believe in the impeccability of the Supreme court
[sic] of the United States." Although agreeing that "forced segregation"
sIbid. (1954), 56, 403-404; Oral Memoirs of Philip Dale Browne, Waco, 1973, Baylor Uni-
versity Program of Oral History, 49; Oral Memoirs of E. S. James, Waco, 1973, ibid., 9o,
161. All citations from Oral Memoirs are taken from typed transcripts of tape-recorded
interviews (Archives, Texas Collection, Baylor University, Waco). See also, John Lee
Eighmy, Churches in Cultural Captivity: A Huitory of the Social Attitudes of Southern
Baptists (Knoxville, 1972), 79-92; Ronald C. White, Jr., and C. Howard Hopkins, The Social
Gospel. Religion and Reform in Changing America (Philadelphia, 1976), 8o-96.
'Baptist Standard (Dallas), Aug. 16, 1945, p. 3 (first quotation), Oct. 7, 1948, p. 4 (second
quotation), June lo, 1954, p. 2 (third, fourth and fifth quotations).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 83, July 1979 - April, 1980, periodical, 1979/1980; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101207/m1/50/: accessed July 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.