Uncover the truth about the scandal that shook the Texas Baptist community, buried for over a century.
In 1894 Steen Morris raped Antônia Teixeira. Both had been guests in the house of Baylor University president Rufus Burleson. The assault took place in Burleson’s backyard and was the first of a series of assaults that eventually left the young Baylor student pregnant. Rather than hold the guilty party accountable, Rufus Burleson and other prominent members of the Baptist community in Waco launched a campaign of intimidation, victim-blaming, and cover-up to preserve the virtuous image of their institution.
In Remembering Antônia Teixeira, Mikeal C. Parsons and João B. Chaves painstakingly peel back the layers of concealment that have accumulated over a century of enforced silence about the case. Beginning with Antonia’s father Antônio Teixeira, a priest who had renounced Catholicism and become a pillar of the Baptist community in Brazil, Parsons and Chaves uproot romanticized and hagiographical accounts of the Southern Baptist Convention’s foreign missions. They then follow Antônia’s journey north, her assault, and the subsequent scandal that shook Texas—until it was intentionally erased.
Iconoclastic and meticulous, Remembering Antônia Teixeira calls attention to how religious institutions have used selective memory to maintain power. In doing so, this book takes a first step toward dismantling those structures of oppression.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Bill J. Leonard List of Abbreviations Prologue: Bloody Cotton Introduction: Power and Transnational Histories PART 1: TRANSNATIONAL CONTEXT 1. Brazilian Baptist Memorialization: The Myths about Antônio Teixeira de Albuquerque 2. The Rise of the (in)Famous Ex-Priest: Catholic and Protestant Journeys 3. The Making of a Baptist Celebrity: Antônio Teixeira in Public Imagination 4. Voyage to Waco: Crossing Borders PART 2: THE RAPE OF ANTÔNIA TEIXEIRA 5. Case 1165: The State of Texas v. Steen Morris Examining Trial 6. The War of Words: W. C. Brann v. Rufus Burleson 7. The Jury Trial: The Verdict and Its Aftermath 8. Constructing and Protecting Institutional Memory: Beyond Antônio and Antônia Conclusion: Forgetting Antônia and Narratives of Institutional Goodness Epilogue Appendixes Bibliography Indexes
Mikeal C. Parsons is professor and Macon Chair in Religion at Baylor University. He is the author or editor of more than thirty books and numerous essays and articles.
João B. Chaves is assistant professor of the history of religion in the Américas at Baylor University. João is the author of several books, including Migrational Religion and The Global Mission of the Jim Crow South.
The Christian Century “The book is a call for repentance and change. In putting the church on trial, they hold up a mirror to hypocrisy and help restore the faith of the disillusioned. What could be more Christlike?”
“When Toni Morrison told a story, she opened up a universe. This book does much the same thing: the specific story of Antônia Teixeira describes structures of transnational structures of racial and gendered inequity. This story from the nineteenth century reminds today’s careful readers of the continued persistence of inequity and possibly gives light to a way forward. As the church saying goes, ‘Tell the truth and shame the devil’!” —Stephen Reid Baylor University
“Haunting and heartbreaking, this meticulously researched narrative lets us finally see the victim of Baylor’s oldest sex scandal. By revealing the powerful currents of colonialism, racism, and sexism that not only destroyed the life of a young girl but kept her story buried for more than a century, this book forces us to face the reality of structural oppression. It is a must-read.” —Beth Allison Barr Baylor University
“This is a powerful and unflinching examination of how religious leaders, institutions, and historians have perpetrated and perpetuated violence against people like Antônia Teixeira. Remembering Antônia Teixeira not only rescues the story of Antônia, her courage, and her fight for justice, but it also provides an in-depth reevaluation of the legacies of two celebrated names in Baptist history, Antônio Teixeira de Albuquerque and Rufus Burleson. João Chaves and Mikeal Parsons have given us an innovative example of how collaborative research on transnational history can be done, and I hope that historians use this book as a model for future efforts.” —Erika Helgen Yale Divinity School
“This book is a testament to the power of rigorous historical research paired with empathy for a vulnerable woman who was victimized by her rapist, the Baptist leaders in charge of her care, and the Southern Baptist institutions that privileged their own reputations over their responsibility for Antônia Teixeira. Indeed, Parsons and Chaves demonstrate the long-standing interest missionaries in Brazil and Texas Baptist leaders shared in upholding the triumphalism and prowess of their Southern Baptist legacy through habits of selective silence and ethnic pride. These habits first minimized both the scandals and successes of Antônia’s father as a Brazilian ex-priest turned Baptist pastor, then mounted a campaign to discredit Antônia’s claims as a rape victim, and finally worked to excise Antônia’s very existence from local and denominational history. Chaves and Parsons leave no stone unturned in telling this harrowing tale of injustice, which is relevant to recent Baylor University history and current international #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements.” —Laura Rodgers Levens Baptist Seminary of Kentucky
“This impressive history book sheds light on themes such as mission and power, manipulation of memory, religion and race, and sexual abuse. Modeling a transnational historiographical approach, it excavates a memory that has been forcibly forgotten. Mikeal Parsons and João Chaves uncover the tragic story of Antônia Teixeira and excavate racialized theological assumptions that justified covering it up. The book exemplifies the work of world Christian historians at its best, challenging hagiographical accounts of mission, while bringing to light uncomfortable facts that force the reader to face the paradoxical nature of Southern Baptist mission in particular and of modern Christian history more broadly. The authors also help to achieve justice for a violated body and soul, bringing this migrant woman of color to the center stage of a story that remained unknown until now. This well-documented history of Baylor University, the Southern Baptist Convention, and its Foreign Mission Board is revealing and valuable in its own right. Yet this book also has wider significance as it encourages the reader ‘to explore ways in which power was [and continues to be] used by key players in major religious institutions to reconstruct memories and suppress inconvenient truths.’” —Raimundo C. Barreto Princeton Theological Seminary
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