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God and Caesar at the Rio Grande

Sanctuary and the Politics of Religion

1995
Author:

Hilary Cunningham

God and Caesar at the Rio Grande

Hilary Cunningham offers a fascinating account of the history and growth of the Sanctuary movement in the U.S., as she demonstrates how religion shapes and is shaped by political culture. Focusing on the Sanctuary located in Tucson, Arizona, Cunningham explores the movement primarily through the experiences of everyday participants conveyed through interviews with Sanctuary workers as well as reproductions of documents from her stays in Arizona, Mexico, and Guatemala. One of few books to document the culture of the religious left in the U.S., God and Caesar at the Rio Grande illustrates how a group of people used religious beliefs and practices to interpret and respond to State authority.

Hilary Cunningham offers a fascinating account of the history and growth of the Sanctuary movement in the U.S., as she demonstrates how religion shapes and is shaped by political culture. Focusing on the Sanctuary located in Tucson, Arizona, Cunningham explores the movement primarily through the experiences of everyday participants conveyed through interviews with Sanctuary workers as well as reproductions of documents from her stays in Arizona, Mexico, and Guatemala. One of few books to document the culture of the religious left in the U.S., God and Caesar at the Rio Grande illustrates how a group of people used religious beliefs and practices to interpret and respond to State authority.

Cunningham’s writing combines fluid prose and chiseled insights. She emerges as a participant, storyteller and wise observer of the sanctuary movement which emerged in Tucson Arizona in the ‘80s.

Catholic New Times

The Sanctuary Movement began in 1981 when a collection of mostly church-related people decided to assist the wave of Central Americans migrating to the United States. The movement was transformed in the following years into a highly volatile church-state confrontation. It established an underground railroad to help Central Americans enter the United States and then provided sanctuary for them within churches and synagogues.

In God and Caesar at the Rio Grande, Hilary Cunningham offers a fascinating account of the history and growth of the Sanctuary Movement, as she demonstrates how religion shapes and is shaped by political culture. Focusing on the Sanctuary located in Tucson, Arizona, Cunningham explores the movement primarily through the experiences of everyday participants conveyed through interviews with Sanctuary workers as well as reproductions of documents from her stays in Arizona, Mexico, and Guatemala. She includes a discussion of the role of sanctuaries within the Judeo-Christian tradition in ancient times, and elaborates on the prominence of women in the Sanctuary network today.

One of few books to document the culture of the religious left in the United States, God and Caesar at the Rio Grande illustrates how a particular group of people used religious beliefs and practices to interpret and respond to state authority. Cunningham looks at such diverse subjects as U.S. church-state relations, the social construction of power, and international refugee policy. This book will be of interest to individuals wishing to explore the relationship of religion to power and social change.

Selected as a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Book for 1996

Awards

A Choice Outstanding Academic Title

God and Caesar at the Rio Grande

Hilary Cunningham is assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

God and Caesar at the Rio Grande

Cunningham’s writing combines fluid prose and chiseled insights. She emerges as a participant, storyteller and wise observer of the sanctuary movement which emerged in Tucson Arizona in the ‘80s.

Catholic New Times

An outstanding social science and a fascinating human chronicle of what it means to act on one’s religious and personal convictions when these conflict with the laws of the state. It is most readable, insightful, and highly recommended for all general and specialized audiences.

Choice

Valuable reading for anyone interested in not only the Sanctuary Movement, but also in the role of progressive churches in the United States today.

Industrial Worker

The account of the formation, activities, and ultimate trial of the leaders of the Tucson movement for alien smuggling, as well as the efforts of the groups after the trial, makes for fascinating reading. In an era of immigrant bashing, this book is a welcome tonic.

Journal of Hispanic/Latino Theology

Cunningham presents the Sanctuary movement as a series of individual, national, and global strategies of resistance to a hegemonic vision of global integration. The book is a street-smart ethnographic account of church-state relations.

Religious Studies Review