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Title page for ETD etd-03312010-150744

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Quiros, Ansley Lillian
URN etd-03312010-150744
Title The Activities and Rhetoric of Protestant Missions
Degree Master of Arts
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Gary Gerstle Committee Member
  • Protestant home missions
  • George Whitefield
  • immigration
  • Atlantic World
  • social gospel
Date of Defense 2010-01-01
Availability unrestricted
Throughout its history, the rhetoric of religion, specifically, in this case of Protestant Christianity, has shaped and influenced America. From missions societies to itinerant preachers, Protestants leaders have sought to spread the gospel throughout the nation, including to racially and ethnically diverse citizens. While George Whitefield travelled through the colonies in the mid18th-century preaching to all he met, black and white, slaves and free, a hundred years later, the women of the Protestant Home Missions Movement echoed his thundering prose, seeking to convert and Americanize incoming Catholic immigrants. Though much had changed between these two eras, including not insignificantly, the American Revolution, the Civil War and a nascent U.S. nationalism, some elements remain the same. While Whitefield emerges as a truly Atlantic figure, floating in a world loosely bound by goods and labor markets, the 20th-century American women are deeply attached to the notion of nation, and, in fact, often conflate Protestantism and true Americanism. But the message of grace in Christ does not change, from Whitefield’s thunderous sermons to women’s illustrated home monthlies. Also consistently present is an underlying tension within these Protestant missions—that of exclusion and even racism on one hand and love and equality before God on the other. Using the rhetoric and activity of Protestant missions as a barometer, a fascinating portrait of religion in America emerges, one that is ever shifting and ever the same.
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