- Fellowship year:2008-2009
- University: Columbia University
- Dissertation Topic/Category: United States
- Dissertation Title: A Kingdom Divided; Border Evangelicals in the Civil War Era, 1837-1894
April Holm’s dissertation examines the interplay of religion and politics in the contentious border region of the United States during the middle decades of the Nineteenth Century. Beginning in the 1830s, conflicts over slavery, abolition, and politics prompted Southerners in America’s three largest evangelical Protestant denominations to organize separate branches, fracturing evangelical Christian organizations in states on the border between slavery and freedom.
This is the first study of evangelical Protestants in this border region which included Kentucky, Missouri, western Virginia, Maryland and portions of neighboring states. Holm examines how theology interacted with the politics of sectionalism to exacerbate denominational disputes. Once politics and theology became aligned, as they did over the course of the Nineteenth Century, they powerfully reinforced each other, perpetuating division. Similar dynamics are visible in the current politicized moral debates that divide American churches today.