Baptism of Early Virginia | National Humanities Center

Humanities in Class: Webinar Series

Baptism of Early Virginia

Rebecca Anne Goetz

Rebecca Anne Goetz (NHC Fellow, 2018–19; Associate Professor of History)

March 4, 2021

In this webinar, we will examine the construction of race through the religious beliefs and practices of English Virginians. The seventeenth century was a critical time in the development and articulation of racial ideologies—ultimately in the idea of “hereditary heathenism,” the notion that Africans and Indians were incapable of genuine Christian conversion. In Virginia in particular, English settlers initially believed that native people would quickly become Christian and would form a vibrant partnership with English people. After vicious Anglo-Indian violence dashed those hopes, English Virginians used Christian rituals like marriage and baptism to exclude first Indians and then Africans from the privileges enjoyed by English Christians—including freedom.


History / Religion / American History / History of Christianity / Race / Rituals / Thirteen Colonies /