Burning Faith:
Church Arson in the American South

Christopher B. Strain

Foreword by Stanley Harrold and Randall M. Miller, Series Editors
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"A thoroughly researched examination of events that alarmed Americans in the 1990s. Strain provides a sophisticated dissection of the many forces, people, and events at the center of what many regarded as a national crisis."--Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar, University of Connecticut

"As the first book-length look into one of the earliest and most racially and religiously explosive issues sweeping the nation in the 1990s, Burning Faith now places Christopher Strain among the pioneering historians today writing on post-Cold War America."--Devin Fergus, Vanderbilt University

In the 1990s, churches across the southeastern United States were targeted and set ablaze. These arsonists predominately targeted African American congregations and captured the attention of the media nationwide. Using oral histories, newspaper accounts, and governmental reports, Christopher Strain gives a chronological account of the series of church fires.

Burning Faith considers the various forces at work, including government responses, civil rights groups, religious forces, and media coverage, in providing a thorough, comprehensive analysis of the events and their fallout. Arguing that these church fires symbolize the breakdown of communal bonds in the nation, Strain appeals for the revitalization of united Americans and the return to a sense of community.

Combining scholarly sophistication with popular readability, Strain has produced one of the first histories of the last decade that demonstrates that the increasing fragmentation of community in America runs deeper than race relations or prejudice.
A volume in the series Southern Dissent, edited by Stanley Harrold and Randall M. Miller
Christopher B. Strain, professor of history and American studies at the Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University, is the author of Pure Fire: Self-Defense as Activism in the Civil Rights Era.

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"A well-researched survey of the church fires of the 1990s. The lesson of the fires is the need for civility. Strain also compares these burnings to those of the civil rights era and the attacks on mosques after 9/11."

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