"white Protestants hell-bent on
respublica at ADDR.COM
Thu Nov 14 12:54:34 PST 2002
As one who has been dismissed on this list as a "religionist", who happens
at the same time to belong to a large and respected profession, I think it
would be useful if those who constantly talk about religion would humble
themselves sufficiently to learn something about what they are talking
about, rather than quibbling about whether one should use words or phrases
that are in fact commonly used in the profession.
The phrase "Protestant empire" has a long and distinguished pedigree among
scholars (not just "religionists", but also sociologists and historians )
going back to the nineteenth century.
That certain members of this list should make it an issue in the way they
are making it is remarkable. It betrays both an arrogance and an
ignorance, which reflects badly on this list itself, not on the field of
One can legitimately raise questions about the implied meaning of the use of
any conventional term, academic or otherwise. It was those sorts of
persistent questions in the past that started the debate that led to changes
in racist and sexist language. But I don't see anyone of that order here,
or anyone serious trying to start an intelligent debate.
It is one more case of certain academics with a narrow expertise trying to
define, or dismiss, the expertise of a much larger, and well-regarded, body
of scholars. We have run into that on the list before.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Steven D. Jamar" <sjamar at LAW.HOWARD.EDU>
To: <RELIGIONLAW at listserv.ucla.edu>
Sent: Thursday, November 14, 2002 12:06 PM
Subject: Re: "white Protestants hell-bent on strengtheningtheProtestantEmpi
> If this were a list of religious historians - or would that be historians
> religion? - we might be familiar with the term. But since we are not, the
> will not be given some obscure technical meaning and most of us do not
> take the time to learn the finer points of it unless there is a
> strong reason to do so.
> Is there not another term that captures the intention and the concept
> generating the viceral negative response? Or must we choose not to enter
> the discussion because we don't understand the language used?
> In my personal experience, listserves are not very useful in discussing
> points of arcana except when a sufficient number of those on the list
> know the area in roughly the same way. Proclaiming "Protestant Empire" as
> explanatory construct has proven counterproductive, at least on this list.
> what is the concept for which it stands? And if that is so subtle and
> complicated that I need to read a whole long law review article and chunk
> intellectual history to understand, then I submit it is not really the
> sort of thing for the list to try to discuss because few will undertake
> Prof. Steven D. Jamar vox:
> Howard University School of Law fax:
> 2900 Van Ness Street NW mailto:sjamar at law.howard.edu
> Washington, DC 20008
> "Religious contention is the devil's harvest."
> Charles Fontaine, French poet, 1515-1590
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