Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Eula McGill, September 5, 1976. Interview G-0040-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Reaction of churches to unionization in rural southern communities

In this brief excerpt, McGill explains that from her perspective, churches in working communities actively opposed the participation of their members in union activities. McGill believes that the churches failed to support labor activism for financial reasons. In small rural working communities, churches were dependent on parishioners for financial support. If workers were to flock to the unions instead, McGill states that their limited income would go to union dues rather than to the churches. This offers an interesting take on tensions that may have existed between religion and the labor movement in small southern communities.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Eula McGill, September 5, 1976. Interview G-0040-2. 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

JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you get active opposition in your organizing efforts from the churches?
EULA MCGILL:
In some areas, especially in the textile. Not so much in the garment plants. I never had open opposition. Of course, most of the people, they'd say, "My pastor told me not to have anything to do with the union." There was some churches back then that called the CIO the mark of the beast. Well, I think the main thing would be more. . . . Most of the churches that the workers went to, it was my feeling that they had to support their church because nobody had money that went there. And all the money the church got was what these workers got, and they were afraid of a'losing it.I'm pretty sure that was the motive in them telling them not to have anything to do with the union. I'm sure it was that more than anything else.