In His Image But . . . Racism in Southern Religion, 1780-1910 is an eye-opening book for those unaware of how the Christian Church played a key role in promoting white supremacy, slavery and racism in general. There will be those who deny the connection, but at every turn, the church in the South found ways to support slavery while bringing the slaves to salvation. The book by was written in 1972 by former Duke Professor, H. Shelton Smith and leaves no doubt how the Church not only approved of slavery, but supported it.
“Our nation has been full of white racism from the start; blacks have been counted as inferior and degrading, even if useful. Thomas Jefferson wanted blacks out of slavery but also out of the country. Patrick Henry could lament the slavery of Negroes but be “drawn along by the general inconvenience of living without them” (p. 23).
Shelton meticulously documents the flow of support for slavery by the white church. Interestingly, one of the supporters of freeing the slaves, but send them back to Africa was Thomas Jefferson, most likely with the exception of Sally Heming. From the Methodist and Baptist churches, the pressure on slaves was relentless and Shelton captures the connection.
He shows that any regression in racist issues tied with the church would never be settled fairly. The documentation of how the Church helped lead the South into the Civil War all on the part of losing their free labor.