Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Vivion Lenon Brewer, October 15, 1976. Interview G-0012. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Resentment of organized religion grows with the hypocrisy of home church

Brewer recalls how her collegiate religion courses challenged her traditional beliefs and threatened her hometown church community. Although the church banished Brewer, they continued to ask for monetary donations, which only heightened Brewer's resentment of organized religion.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Vivion Lenon Brewer, October 15, 1976. Interview G-0012. 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

VIVION LENON BREWER:
Well, I had grown up . . . My mother was a staunch Baptist, and I went to church every time the doors opened, and I was really a leader in the young group at the church, in what they called the Baptist Young People's Union. I taught Sunday school; I went to church. When I was twelve years old, a minister came and stayed at our home, had a revival. And through pressure from him, I joined the church and was baptized, and I've often thought of what happens to young people in religious organizations, because I am convinced I had what amounted to a sort of fit.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Oh?
VIVION LENON BREWER:
You know, you lose your own mental powers. You're completely under [unclear] control . . . A sort of brainwashing, if you want to call it that. But at any rate, I did, and, until I went to college, I was extremely active in the church. At college one of my very favorite courses was "The Bible as Literature." I learned a great deal from it, and I was appalled to think that, until that time, I really hadn't known what was in the Bible.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
(Laughs)
VIVION LENON BREWER:
And so the members of the church learned that I was enjoying the Bible as literature (laughed) and not verbatim, and they sent a committee to see me and asked me not to come to church anymore because I would be a very bad influence on the young people.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
You know what happens when you send girls off to those schools. (Laughs)
VIVION LENON BREWER:
(Laughs) So I didn't go back to church. But then the thing that really turned me against the church was, I had gone to work, you see, then, and they would each month come to me and ask me for a contribution, but they didn't want me in the church. (Laughs)