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Meagan Jaycox


AP English 6

7 March 2017

The Persecution of Religion in Alabama

In 1963 George C Wallace was elected as the Governor of Alabama. At this time, the

Nation was in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. The conscience of people in Alabama

had been provoked by an act of Civil Disobedience presented by Rosa Parks in 1955, in

Montgomery, Alabama. On December 1, 1955 Rosa Parks, was arrested for refusing to give her

seat up for the overflow of white passengers. Her arrest triggered, a series of bus boycotts in

Montgomery. The people of Alabama, were divided on the issue of Civil liberties, in Wallace’s

Inaugural Address, he argues that the federal government infringes on the South’s religious

freedom as he attempts to persuade the audience that the government is the cause of their social

issues. Wallace’s argument is successful, because it served its purpose, the audience was

convinced that the government was their enemy, and the cause of their social problems and was

restricting their religion.

When Wallace expresses the failures of the federal government in his speech, he

associates faith with fear . He uses faith and fear to exploit the attachment people have to their

faith, which causes people to become defensive when they feel that their faith is being attacked.

This idea that the government is destroying their social life by, “ encouraging [their] fear of

educational development” by fearing educational development, they are fearing the government,

since the “minds of [their] children under management and control of government” (Wallace5)

He goes on to say that the government is also controlling their “physical infirmities”, and that a

government based on fear will fail to recognize “the basic law” (Wallace5) of our founding

fathers.. By replacing faith with fear from the government, Wallace allows the audience to see

the government as the enemy.He desires people to believe that the government is taking the place

of God and therefore minimizing God’s role in society, politics and education. This then elevates

the government up to the same level as God, which angers Christians and religious Alabamians.

This anger fuels support for Wallace’s cause of turning the people against the government.

In 1962, Congress declared it unconstitutional, a violation of the first amendment,

to pray and read the Bible in public schools. Before the 1960s, public school days would start off

with the prayer, ​"Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy

blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our Country." (William Butler). After that prayer

the students would go and read a section from the Bible. This was common, since schools first

started with the goal of teaching people to read, so that they could read the Bible, but the practice

had become widely unpopular with liberals, who didn’t want to have their children influenced by

the Protestant ways. Taking out the daily religious time for the children outraged Wallace, and

became a great source of evidence to the backing of his claim that Christians were being

religiously “persecuted.” Although they were having no physical harm done to them, he felt that

Christians were being persecuted by the fact that there would now be a separation between

church and state; and since public schools were a state matter, the children would no longer be

influenced by the daily reading of the Bible.


Wallace compared the president to Julius Caesar to show his distaste for the Northern

Government. Along with comparing the current government to an old roman dictatorship, he also

compared it to Hitler’s Germany, claiming that the “new” and “liberal” government was a

dictatorship and nothing was progressive about it, since “it was as old as the oldest dictator,”

(Wilson 6).

Wilson uses pathos to persuade his audience, the Alabamians, that they are being

religiously persecuted and their way of life is being threatened.He uses the emotions of fear and

anger to elicit a strong and united response from the Southerners against the Northerners.

In conclusion, this speech by Governor George C. Wallace, was completely effective for

his audience of religious Alabamians, who held the same viewpoints as him. Despite this speech

being proficient in the South, it would be less effective in the Northern States, where people had

stronger respect for the Government, and the First Amendment, all of which were disregarded in

this speech. Even though the Government and its laws were taken lightly in this speech, it

doesn’t affect its success in achieving its purpose of uniting and enraging the Alabamian

audience, who the speech was originally written for.


Work Cited

Brown, Amy S. “(1964) George C. Wallace, "The Civil Rights Movement: Fraud, Sham, and

Hoax" | The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed.” ​(1964) George C. Wallace, "The

Civil Rights Movement: Fraud, Sham, and Hoax" | The Black Past: Remembered and

Reclaimed​, Evan Wade, 3 Feb. 2001,


sthash.NBWwSMyI.dpuf. Accessed 1 Mar. 2017.

Eskew Glenn T. “Birmingham Campaign of 1963”​ Encyclopedia of Alabama​. 20 Sept. 2007,

http:// www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1358?printable=true . Accessed 26 Feb.


Masci, David. “A Half Century After It First Appeared on the Dollar Bill, "In God We Trust"

Still Stirs Opposition”​ Pew Research Center​. 12 Sept, 2007.


-bill-in-god-we-trust-still-stirs-opposition/ Accessed 26 Feb, 2017.

Wallace, George C. “The Inaugural Address of Governor George C. Wallace.” 2 Mar. 2017,

Montgomery, Alabama, State Capitol, ​Inaugural Address​.