White Anglo Saxon protestant

Why does this term WASP sound offensive to coloured people? Has racism been part of the Protestant religion? I was told once to leave the premises of a protestant church in the US because I wasn’t white.

In the United States, particularly the south, and particularly with the Southern Baptist convention, there was once a problem along racial lines.

The United States historically has been controlled by WASPs. Africans were enslaved. Catholics and Jews, while white, were not Protestant and tended not to be Anglo-Saxon. Catholics and Jews tended to be “ethnic” whites.

Therefore, white Anglo-Saxon Protestant is a term with a lot of class/race/religious undertones. In the 19th century, white Catholics often were Irish or Italian, or had some other immigrant background. They were often poor and were crowded in urban tenements and perceived by WASPs as dirty, poor, ignorant,sub-whites (not “real” Americans) who breed like animals and threatened WASP power in the USA.

Racism has been apart of ALL American religion to some degree or another and in many ways it still is. After the Civil War, blacks started their own churches because they refused to be treated like second class Christians in the white churches. These churches still exist, such as the African Methodist Episcopal Churches which were created as an alternative to the white Methodist Episcopal Church.

At the same time, there has also been a lot of cultural integration and sharing. American Evangelicalism, for instance, draws a lot from the African-American slave church tradition.

That is unfortunate. While it is sad that this still occurs, I think this is much rarer nowadays than it used to be.

I belong to an racially integrated church, and we have contact with Christians and churches of all races.

There are Blacks that are Southern Baptist and belong to the Southern Baptist Convention.

Yes, I am very much aware of that, that is why its written in past tense. For the most part, the problem is long gone.

What kind of Protestant church was it? Where in the US was it located?

Ahhh, not really. There are many pockets in the deep south where that still prevails. Just because the Convention has moved on, does not mean local churches have.

From Wikipedia:

Historically, “Anglo-Saxon” has been used for centuries to refer to the Anglo Saxon language (today more correctly called “Old English”) of the inhabitants of England and much of modern Scotland before about 1150, and since the 19th century has been in common use in the English-speaking New World, but not in Britain itself, to refer to all Caucasian people of English or British descent, who were mostly Protestants. The “W” and “P” were added in the 1950s to form a witty epithet with an undertone of “waspishness” (which means a person who is easily irritated and quick to take offense).

The first published mention of the term was provided by political scientist Andrew Hacker in 1957, indicating it was already used as common terminology among American sociologists:

“ They are ‘WASPs’—in the cocktail party jargon of the sociologists. That is, they are wealthy, they are Anglo-Saxon in origin, and they are Protestants (and disproportionately Episcopalian). To their Waspishness should be added the tendency to be located on the eastern seaboard or around San Francisco, to be prep school and Ivy League educated, and to be possessed of inherited wealth."[9] ”

The term was popularized by sociologist and University of Pennsylvania professor E. Digby Baltzell in his 1964 book The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in America. Baltzell stressed the closed or caste-like characteristic of the group, arguing, “There is a crisis in American leadership in the middle of the twentieth century that is partly due, I think, to the declining authority of an establishment which is now based on an increasingly castelike White-Anglo Saxon-Protestant (WASP) upper class.”[10]

Yes, well, I’m from the deep south, myself. Open racism in Church’s is something that would be a bit hard to find these days, even down here. Slightly bigoted opinions and strange looks would be a lot more common. But for the most part, it has died out.

I don’t think it fair to say that the problem was particular to members of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The SBC was formed in 1845 as a result of a split from Northern Baptists over slavery but the same can be said for the split between the Presbyterian Church USA and the Presbyterian Church of America.

The problem might have been more visible in the SBC simply because it was and is by far the largest religious organization outside of the Catholic Church but racism was endemic.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.