Rohrer, S. Scott 1957- (Scott Rohrer)

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Rohrer, S. Scott 1957- (Scott Rohrer)

PERSONAL:

Born March 22, 1957; married Anne Ferguson (a journalist), 1987; children: Josh. Education: Syracuse University, B.A., 1980; University of Virginia, M.A., 1986, Ph.D., 1999.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Arlington, VA. Office—National Journal, 600 New Hampshire Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20037. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, journalist, and historian. National Journal, Washington, DC, copy desk chief. Worked previously in Paterson, NJ, and with Observer, Charlotte, NC.

WRITINGS:

Hope's Promise: Religion and Acculturation in the Southern Backcountry, University of Alabama Press (Tuscaloosa, AL), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS:

Writer and journalist S. Scott Rohrer was born March 22, 1957. He graduated in 1980 from Syracuse University, where he worked as a student for the school newspaper, the Daily Orange, both as a reporter and an editor. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in American history at the University of Virginia. Over the course of his career, Rohrer has worked for a number of publications, including the Charlotte Observer in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the National Journal, out of Washington, DC. Fascinated with early American history, Rohrer has begun a secondary career alongside his journalistic efforts, writing book-length nonfiction on social and religious history. His first effort, Hope's Promise: Religion and Acculturation in the Southern Backcountry, was published by the University of Alabama Press in 2005.

In Hope's Promise, Rohrer offers readers a look into a previously unexamined area of the history of American evangelism. As of the book's publication, a number of historians have focused on the English-speaking settlers and their contributions to the development of evangelism in North America since the American Revolution, looking into the history of Methodists and Baptists in particular. Rohrer, however, has turned his attention toward the German-speaking settlers of North Carolina and its environs, who made up the Moravian community. Over the course of the book, Rohrer explains how the Moravians operated what they considered to be a "tropus," an invisible church that could be made up of different members who still belonged to and participated in their own churches as well. These communities, or "society" settlements, were found primarily in the backcountry region of the Wachovia Tract, and allowed the participants to engage in the Moravian religious community as partial members, who were not obliged to follow the stricter mandates that were common in the communities where the members of the congregation all lived and worshiped in the same town. While parishioners in the dedicated towns tended to have been Moravians prior to moving to America, the society settlements were generally made up of new converts who had embraced the religion only once they settled in the United States. The newcomers were also more likely to speak English more fluently and more often, and so religion was just one more aspect of their adaptability and the ways in which they chose to actively alter their lives in their new homeland.

Rohrer proposes that the way in which the German and American speakers interacted and joined in their religion helped to create a new type of ethnic group, based on their joint belief systems and common heritage. The religion provided a common ground that allowed the groups to ignore their other differences, such as how recently they had relocated and the extent to which they had been willing to assimilate. German speakers, particularly, clung to the Moravian religion because of its roots in something outside of America, which gave them a link to their heritage. From there, Rohrer continues to discuss assimilation, only in this case it is the ways in which the Moravians were assimilated into Southern culture in their region of North Carolina. He traces the development through the nineteenth century, looking at how the importance of slavery and the eventual Civil War both affected the ways in which the Moravians adapted and became an integral part of Southern society. Trenton Hizer, in a review for the Journal of Church and State, found Rohrer's book to be "a well-written work that will prove of great interest to students of religious history, Southern history, and North Carolina history." Beverly P. Smaby, writing for the Journal of Southern History, opined that "Rohrer's book significantly advances our understanding of American Moravians by including the important country congregations, which other Moravian historians have largely ignored."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Historical Review, February 1, 2006, Craig D. Atwood, review of Hope's Promise: Religion and Acculturation in the Southern Backcountry, p. 153.

Choice, December 1, 2005, E.L. Turk, review of Hope's Promise, p. 728.

Church History, June 1, 2006, Katherine Carte Engel, review of Hope's Promise, p. 450.

Georgia Historical Quarterly, fall, 2005, Edward L. Bond, review of Hope's Promise, pp. 416-417.

History: Review of New Books, March 22, 2005, Andrew J. Lewis, review of Hope's Promise, p. 103.

Journal of American History, March 1, 2006, Frederick A. Bode, review of Hope's Promise, p. 1428.

Journal of Church and State, June 22, 2005, Trenton Hizer, review of Hope's Promise, p. 634.

Journal of Southern History, May 1, 2006, Beverly P. Smaby, review of Hope's Promise, p. 453.

North Carolina Historical Review, July, 2005, Philip Mulder, review of Hope's Promise, pp. 390-391.

ONLINE

Daily Orange Alumni Association Web site,http://www.dailyorange.org/alum/ (January 11, 2006), alumni profile.

H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (June 1, 2005), Mary Beth Mathews, review of Hope's Promise.