Although today the largest religious denomination in the United States, until the 1960s, the Roman Catholic Church represented less than 1 percent of the population of North Carolina. Tar Heel Catholics recounts the story of the Catholic Church in what was long called "mission territory" on the doorstep of a rapidly developing American Catholic institutional presence. The explanation of this phenomenon lies in the history of the Deep South itself, including slavery, segregation, and the overwhelming religious dominance of the Baptist church. Tar Heel Catholics relates the great difficulty early churchmen encountered in attempting to establish Catholicism in an inhospitable environment. It was not until 1924 that North Carolina became the last state in the union to gain the status of a diocese.
Overall, Powers' book is important because it is the first comprehensive overview of the Catholic Church in North Carolina. Tar Heel Catholics should serve as a springboard for all future scholarship on Catholicism in a state that has evolved from a backwater of Catholicism into one of the nation's most dynamic Catholic communities. -- John Quinterno, Assistant Director, Program on Southern Politics, Media,and Public Life, UNC-Chapel Hill
This book is reveting history... * The Catholic Historical Review *
This study is a welcome and informative addition to a growing southern Catholic historiography. -- James M. Woods, Georgia Southern University * Journal of Southern History *
Tar Heel Catholics is strongly recommended for any interested reader, regardless of faith, and will also become the necessary starting point for academic researchers pursuing all topics related to Catholicism in North Carolina. -- Donald Beagle, Belmont Abbey College * North Carolina Historical Review *