1st Edition

Religion and Social Protest Movements

By Tobin Miller Shearer Copyright 2021
    190 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    190 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    What role has religion played in social protest movements? This important book examines how activists have used religious resources such as liturgy, prayer, song and vestments with a focus on the following global case studies:

    • The mid-twentieth century US civil rights movement.
    • The late twentieth century antiabortion movement in the United States of America.
    • The early twenty-first century water protectors’ movement at Standing Rock, North Dakota.
    • Indian independence led by Mohandas Gandhi in the early 1930s.
    • The Polish Solidarity movement of the 1980s.
    • The South African anti-apartheid movement of the 1980s and 1990s.

    Prayer as a sacred act is usually associated with piety and pacifism; however, it can be argued that those who pray in public while protesting are more likely to encounter violence. Drawing on journalistic accounts, participant reflections, and secondary literature, Religion and Social Protest Movements offers both historical and theoretical perspectives on the persistent correlation of the use of public prayer with an increase in conflict and violence.

    This book is an important read for students and researchers in history and religious studies, and those in related fields such as sociology, African-American studies, and Native American studies.

    1. Faithful Fasting: the Indian Independence Movement

    2. Invoking Violence: the Civil Rights Movement

    3. Sacred Surety: Divine Mandate and Violence in the Anti-Abortion Movement

    4. The Pope and the Black Madonna: Ritual, Word, and Movement in the Polish Solidarity Movement

    5. Imagining the Impossible: the Anti-apartheid Movement of the 1980s and 1990s

    6. Prayers Permeated: Water Protectors and the #NoDAPL Movement

    Conclusion: A Model For Analyzing Religious Resources in Social Movements


    Tobin Miller Shearer is a history professor and the director of the African-American Studies Program at University of Montana, USA.

    "Religion and Social Protest Movements feels timely for American audiences with the increasing visibility of the Movement for Black Lives and the controversy over the kneeling posture associated with it. Tobin Shearer helps us understand certain phases in the long international history of religious protests, including a detailed study of Christian civil rights activism through the 1970s. His work reminds us of the geographically widespread nature of the historic Black freedom struggle, and it provides analytical tools to help us recognize further developments in that struggle. Shearer’s attention to the cultural traits sometimes shared by religious protestors and their critics also drives home the importance of reconsidering artificial dichotomies during moments of crisis."

    Kimberly Hill, University of Texas at Dallas, USA.