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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Paul Hardin Jr., December 8, 1989. Interview C-0071. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Preaching about race relations in the 1920s and 1930s

Hardin was among a younger generation of Methodist clergy who were more likely to discuss race relations in the 1920s and 1930s. His views led some church folk to consider him a "Yankee," though he was from North Carolina.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Paul Hardin Jr., December 8, 1989. Interview C-0071. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

DONALD MATHEWS:
What do you think was the major problem as a minister, and problems among the church-what were the laity most concerned about in the '20s and '30s?
BISHOP PAUL HARDIN:
Well, the southern laity in some places was most concerned about the church getting out of hand and these young preachers coming in, too liberal, they thought.
DONALD MATHEWS:
You're one of those young preachers?
BISHOP PAUL HARDIN:
Yes, I was one of them. But I didn't give them the whole dose at one time. My father came to hear me preach one Sunday at Asheboro. I'd been there about two years. And I preached a sermon on race relations. It was race relations Sunday. And after the sermon was over, he followed me back to the parsonage, and said, "Son, those people will run you off tomorrow." I said, "No, Dad, they won't run me off tomorrow. I've been here two years. Now, if I had done that when I first got here, they probably would have tried to run me off." But I had a man once come to me, I was his bishop, and I had to move him every year. And he came to me and he said, "You move me every year, and you've moved me because I preach the gospel too strongly for these people. You've moved me because I rock the boat." I said, "No, I don't move you because you rock the boat. I have to move you because you have never learned how to rock the boat successfully." And there's a tremendous difference.
DONALD MATHEWS:
Yes, Yes. Well, race, you think they were really more anxious about race than anything else, or were they concerned about Darwinism or science?
BISHOP PAUL HARDIN:
They were more concerned, primarily, about the feeling that they were going to be forced together in the church, as they were going to be forced together in the public schools. This was beginning to dawn on them. That was a feeling growing in the country that the type of segregation we had and restrictions that we put upon blacks about the use of toilets and so forth and so on, that this had to crumble someday, and they did not want to see it happen. But I laughed, when I went to Birmingham, they some of them. They weren't laughing all together. They said that just because I was from "North" Carolina, I was a Yankee.