An Examination of the Impact of the Climate of Religious Freedom during the Civil Rights Movement on the Pursuit of Civil Rights and Religious Liberty Open Access

Roberts, Darryl Dejuan (2014)

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This work builds upon and enriches historical, ethical, and political analyses of the Civil Rights Movement (CRM), by examining how Court battles, fought in secular terms, and spirit-filled ecclesial activism together helped the CRM succeed. It examines three principles that grounded the moral vision and paved the way for the social action of the CRM: ecclesial (roots of Black Church activism), legal (litigation aimed at purifying the system of unjust laws and racial discrimination), and ethical (Christian calls to love and justice). While other writers have examined the theological and civil rights dimensions of the movement, a distinctive contribution of this work is its attention to a climate of religious freedom that served to fertilize the soil for the spirited activism of the movement. In the decades preceding the CRM, the Court expanded the rights of religious groups to practice their faith without State interference, thus fostering a climate of religious freedom. This climate supported Black Church leaders and congregants in taking their faith to the streets for a cause that had legal and, at least for them, divine significance, and that ultimately yielded broader civil and human rights for all American citizens. Whereas efforts to enforce the Constitution through Court action served the CRM in certain ways, the movement's legacy shows the need for nonviolent protest, rooted in human rights norms, and grounded in Christian values, traditions, and beliefs that spring from the struggles of different communities. Framed in religious, ethical, and legal terms, prayerful protests and Court cases worked together to advance the cause of human rights and constitutional improvement.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1: The Free Exercise and Establishment Clause: Fertile Soil for Civil and Human Rights 23

Chapter 2: The Christian Dimensions of the Nonviolent Struggle for Civil and Human Rights during the Civil Rights Movement 67

Chapter 3: Political Expediency or Misguided Legal Strategy? Rediscovering the Religious Character of the Civil Rights Movement in Protest Cases 91

Chapter 4: The Ethic of the Black Church Civil Rights Movement: The Accent on Christian Love and the Journey Toward Justice 132

Chapter 5: From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Lessons Learned from the Civil Rights Movement in the Enduring Struggle for Human Rights 165

Appendix: Case List 207

Bibliography 210

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