You’ve written a book with a very provocative title: We Confess! The Civil War, the South, and the Church. How did you come to write We Confess?
I’m a white woman from the Deep South. I grew up with a profound awareness of the subjects my culture and my church culture do not wish to discuss. Never would I have dreamed I’d write a book like this – until I worked inside the Southern Baptist denominational structure for seven years. During that season, I inadvertently uncovered something big and ugly that didn’t fit at all with what we proclaimed ourselves to be. My experiences left me asking God, “What was that?” In answer, the Lord prompted me to research the history of the Southern Baptist Convention. When I did, it was as if I’d pulled a thread, and all kinds of things began unraveling.
For one thing, I saw the way the SBC had, from its inception, deliberately linked itself with the South, and particularly with the sin strongholds of the South. I saw how patterns established four generations ago had repeated in my work situation. But also I saw how those same patterns were repeating in my life and family and in families and churches all around me. The more I learned about my ancestors’ choices, the more I realized how powerfully those choices still impact the US church today, and especially the conservative church rooted in the Bible Belt.
As I studied, and grieved over, and worked through all I was learning, I began to experience dramatic changes within me – new life, new freedom, new purpose, new intimacy with God. I wanted others who are shackled by things they don’t even know are binding them to experience this same freedom. So after a lifetime of experiences and five years of research, I spent about a year writing We Confess! The Civil War, the South, and the Church.