In 1792, nearly 1,200 freed American slaves crossed the Atlantic and established themselves in Freetown, West Africa, a community dedicated to anti-slavery and opposed to the African chieftain hierarchy that was tied to slavery. Thus began an unprecedented movement with critical long-term effects on the evolution of social, religious, and political institutions in modern Africa.
Lamin Sanneh's engrossing book narrates the story of freed slaves who led efforts to abolish the slave trade by attacking its base operation: the capture and sale of people by African chiefs. Sanneh's protagonists set out to establish in West Africa colonies founded on equal rights and opportunity for personal enterprise, communities that would be havens for ex-slaves and an example to the rest of Africa. Among the most striking of these leaders is the Nigerian Samuel Ajayi Crowther, a recaptured slave who joined a colony in Sierra Leone and subsequently established satellite communities in Nigeria. The ex-slave repatriates brought with them an evangelical Christianity that encouraged individual spirituality--a revolutionary vision in a land where European missionaries had long assumed they could Christianize the whole society by converting chiefs and rulers.
Tracking this potent African American anti-slavery and democratizing movement through the nineteenth century, Lamin Sanneh draws a clear picture of the religious grounding of its conflict with the traditional chieftain authorities. His study recounts a crucial development in the history of West Africa.
Since the 1960s, evangelical Christian denominations have made converts throughout much of Roman Catholic Latin America, causing clashes of faith that sometimes escalate to violence. Yet in one Mexican town, Tzintzuntzan, the appearance of new churches has provoked only harmony. Catholics and evangelicals alike profess that “all religions are good,” a sentiment not far removed from “here we are all equal,” which was commonly spoken in the community before evangelicals arrived. In this paradigm-challenging study, Peter Cahn investigates why the coming of evangelical churches to Tzintzuntzan has produced neither the interfaith clashes nor the economic prosperity that evangelical conversion has brought to other communities in Mexico and Latin America. Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, he demonstrates that the evangelicals’ energetic brand of faith has not erupted into violence because converts continue to participate in communal life, while Catholics, in turn, participate in evangelical practices. He also underscores how Tzintzuntzan’s integration into global economic networks strongly motivates the preservation of community identity and encourages this mutual borrowing. At the same time, however, Cahn concludes that the suppression of religious difference undermines the revolutionary potential of religion.
The first comprehensive history of modern American evangelicalism to appear in a generation, AmericanApocalypse shows how a group of radical Protestants, anticipating the end of the world, paradoxically transformed it.
“The history Sutton assembles is rich, and the connections are startling.” —New Yorker
“American Apocalypse relentlessly and impressively shows how evangelicals have interpreted almost every domestic or international crisis in relation to Christ’s return and his judgment upon the wicked…Sutton sees one of the most troubling aspects of evangelical influence in the spread of the apocalyptic outlook among Republican politicians with the rise of the Religious Right…American Apocalypse clearly shows just how popular evangelical apocalypticism has been and, during the Cold War, how the combination of odd belief and political power could produce a sleepless night or two.” —D. G. Hart, Wall Street Journal
“American Apocalypse is the best history of American evangelicalism I’ve read in some time…If you want to understand why compromise has become a dirty word in the GOP today and how cultural politics is splitting the nation apart, American Apocalypse is an excellent place to start.” —Stephen Prothero, Bookforum
Evangelicalism is one of the strongest religious traditions in America today; 20 million Americans identify themselves with the evangelical movement. Given the modern pluralistic world we live in, why is evangelicalism so popular?
Based on a national telephone survey and more than three hundred personal interviews with evangelicals and other churchgoing Protestants, this study provides a detailed analysis of the commitments, beliefs, concerns, and practices of this thriving group. Examining how evangelicals interact with and attempt to influence secular society, this book argues that traditional, orthodox evangelicalism endures not despite, but precisely because of, the challenges and structures of our modern pluralistic environment. This work also looks beyond evangelicalism to explore more broadly the problems of traditional religious belief and practice in the modern world.
With its impressive empirical evidence, innovative theory, and substantive conclusions, American Evangelicalism will provoke lively debate over the state of religious practice in contemporary America.
In the late 1970s, the New Christian Right emerged as a formidable political force, boldly announcing itself as a unified movement representing the views of a "moral majority." But that movement did not spring fully formed from its predecessors. American Evangelicals and the 1960s refutes the thesis that evangelical politics were a purely inflammatory backlash against the cultural and political upheaval of the decade.
Bringing together fresh research and innovative interpretations, this book demonstrates that evangelicals actually participated in broader American developments during "the long 1960s," that the evangelical constituency was more diverse than often noted, and that the notion of right-wing evangelical politics as a backlash was a later creation serving the interests of both Republican-conservative alliances and their critics. Evangelicalism's involvement with—rather than its reaction against—the main social movements, public policy initiatives, and cultural transformations of the 1960s proved significant in its 1970s political ascendance. Twelve essays that range thematically from the oil industry to prison ministry and from American counterculture to the Second Vatican Council depict modern evangelicalism both as a religious movement with its own internal dynamics and as one fully integrated into general American history.
American evangelicalism often appears as a politically monolithic, textbook red-state fundamentalism that elected George W. Bush, opposes gay marriage, abortion, and evolution, and promotes apathy about global warming. Prominent public figures hold forth on these topics, speaking with great authority for millions of followers. Authors Stephens and Giberson, with roots in the evangelical tradition, argue that this popular impression understates the diversity within evangelicalism—an often insular world where serious disagreements are invisible to secular and religiously liberal media consumers. Yet, in the face of this diversity, why do so many people follow leaders with dubious credentials when they have other options? Why do tens of millions of Americans prefer to get their science from Ken Ham, founder of the creationist Answers in Genesis, who has no scientific expertise, rather than from his fellow evangelical Francis Collins, current Director of the National Institutes of Health?
Exploring intellectual authority within evangelicalism, the authors reveal how America’s populist ideals, anti-intellectualism, and religious free market, along with the concept of anointing—being chosen by God to speak for him like the biblical prophets—established a conservative evangelical leadership isolated from the world of secular arts and sciences.
Today, charismatic and media-savvy creationists, historians, psychologists, and biblical exegetes continue to receive more funding and airtime than their more qualified counterparts. Though a growing minority of evangelicals engage with contemporary scholarship, the community’s authority structure still encourages the “anointed” to assume positions of leadership.
In 1823 William and Amanda Ferry opened a boarding school for Métis children on Mackinac Island, Michigan Territory, setting in motion an intense spiritual battle to win the souls and change the lives of the children, their parents, and all others living at Mackinac. Battle for the Soul demonstrates how a group of enthusiastic missionaries, empowered by an uncompromising religious motivation, served as agents of Americanization. The Ferrys' high hopes crumbled, however, as they watched their work bring about a revival of Catholicism and their students refuse to abandon the fur trade as a way of life. The story of the Mackinaw Mission is that of people who held differing world views negotiating to create a "middle-ground," a society with room for all.
Widder's study is a welcome addition to the literature on American frontier missions. Using Richard White's "middle ground" paradigm, it focuses on the cultural interaction between French, British, American, and various native groups at the Mackinac mission in Michigan during the early 19th century. The author draws on materials from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions archives, as well as other manuscript sources, to trace not only the missionaries' efforts to Christianize and Americanize the native peoples, but the religious, social, and cultural conflicts between Protestant missionaries and Catholic priests in the region. Much attention has been given to the missionaries to the Indians in other areas of the US, but little to this region.
Explores the roots of evangelical Christian support for Israel through an examination of the Southern Baptist Convention
One week after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) repeatedly and overwhelmingly voted down resolutions congratulating fellow Southern Baptist Harry Truman on his role in Israel’s creation. From today’s perspective, this seems like a shocking result. After all, Christians—particularly the white evangelical Protestants who populate the SBC—are now the largest pro-Israel constituency in the United States. How could conservative evangelicals have been so hesitant in celebrating Israel’s birth in 1948? How did they then come to be so supportive?
Between Dixie and Zion: Southern Baptists and Palestine before Israel addresses these issues by exploring how Southern Baptists engaged what was called the “Palestine question”: whether Jews or Arabs would, or should, control the Holy Land after World War I. Walker Robins argues that, in the decades leading up to the creation of Israel, most Southern Baptists did not directly engage the Palestine question politically. Rather, they engaged it indirectly through a variety of encounters with the land, the peoples, and the politics of Palestine. Among the instrumental figures featured by Robins are tourists, foreign missionaries, Arab pastors, converts from Judaism, biblical interpreters, fundamentalist rebels, editorialists, and, of course, even a president. While all revered Palestine as the Holy Land, each approached and encountered the region according to their own priorities.
Nevertheless, Robins shows that Baptists consistently looked at the region through an Orientalist framework, broadly associating the Zionist movement with Western civilization, modernity, and progress over and against the Arabs, whom they viewed as uncivilized, premodern, and backward. He argues that such impressions were not idle—they suggested that the Zionists were bringing to fruition Baptists’ long-expressed hopes that Israel would regain the prosperity it had held in the biblical era, the Holy Land would one day be revived, and biblical prophecies preceding the return of Christ would be fulfilled.
Between Jesus and the Market looks at the appeal of the Christian right-wing movement in contemporary American politics and culture. In her discussions of books and videotapes that are widely distributed by the Christian right but little known by mainstream Americans, Linda Kintz makes explicit the crucial need to understand the psychological makeup of born-again Christians as well as the sociopolitical dynamics involved in their cause. She focuses on the role of religious women in right-wing Christianity and asks, for example, why so many women are attracted to what is often seen as an antiwoman philosophy. The result, a telling analysis of the complexity and appeal of the "emotions that matter" to many Americans, highlights how these emotions now determine public policy in ways that are increasingly dangerous for those outside familiarity’s circle. With texts from such organizations as the Christian Coalition, the Heritage Foundation, and Concerned Women for America, and writings by Elizabeth Dole, Newt Gingrich, Pat Robertson, and Rush Limbaugh, Kintz traces the usefulness of this activism for the secular claim that conservative political economy is, in fact, simply an expression of the deepest and most admirable elements of human nature itself. The discussion of Limbaugh shows how he draws on the skepticism of contemporary culture to create a sense of absolute truth within his own media performance—its truth guaranteed by the market. Kintz also describes how conservative interpretations of the Holy Scriptures, the U.S. Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence have been used to challenge causes such as feminism, women’s reproductive rights, and gay and lesbian rights. In addition to critiquing the intellectual and political left for underestimating the power of right-wing grassroots organizing, corporate interests, and postmodern media sophistication, Between Jesus and the Market discusses the proliferation of militia groups, Christian entrepreneurship, and the explosive growth and "selling" of the Promise Keepers.
Contemporary scholarship tends to view Albert Camus as a modern, but he himself was conscious of the past and called the transition from Hellenism to Christianity “the true and only turning point in history.” For Camus, modernity was not fully comprehensible without an examination of the aspirations that were first articulated in antiquity and that later received their clearest expression in Christianity. These aspirations amounted to a fundamental reorientation of human life in politics, religion, science, and philosophy.
Understanding the nature and achievement of that reorientation became the central task of Christian Metaphysics and Neoplatonism. Primarily known through its inclusion in a French omnibus edition, ithas remained one of Camus’ least-read works, yet it marks his first attempt to understand the relationship between Greek philosophy and Christianity as he charted the movement from the Gospels through Gnosticism and Plotinus to what he calls Augustine’s “second revelation” of the Christian faith.
Ronald Srigley’s translation of this seminal document helps illuminate these aspects of Camus’ work. His freestanding English edition exposes readers to an important part of Camus’ thought that is often overlooked by those concerned primarily with the book’s literary value and supersedes the extant McBride translation by retaining a greater degree of literalness.
Srigley has fully annotated Christian Metaphysics to include nearly all of Camus’ original citations and has tracked down many poorly identified sources. When Camus cites an ancient primary source, whether in French translation or in the original language, Srigley substitutes a standard English translation in the interest of making his edition accessible to a wider range of readers. His introduction places the text in the context of Camus’ better-known later work, explicating its relationship to those mature writings and exploring how its themes were reworked in subsequent books.
Arguing that Camus was one of the great critics of modernity through his attempt to disentangle the Greeks from the Christians, Srigley clearly demonstrates the place of Christian Metaphysics in Camus’ oeuvre. As the only stand-alone English version of this important work—and a long-overdue critical edition—his fluent translation is an essential benchmark in our understanding of Camus and his place in modern thought.
A religious studies scholar argues that in antebellum America, evangelicals, not Transcendentalists, connected ordinary Americans with their spiritual roots in the natural world.
We have long credited Emerson and his fellow Transcendentalists with revolutionizing religious life in America and introducing a new appreciation of nature. Breaking with Protestant orthodoxy, these New Englanders claimed that God could be found not in church but in forest, fields, and streams. Their spiritual nonconformity had thrilling implications but never traveled far beyond their circle. In this essential reconsideration of American faith in the years leading up to the Civil War, Brett Malcolm Grainger argues that it was not the Transcendentalists but the evangelical revivalists who transformed the everyday religious life of Americans and spiritualized the natural environment.
Evangelical Christianity won believers from the rural South to the industrial North: this was the true popular religion of the antebellum years. Revivalists went to the woods not to free themselves from the constraints of Christianity but to renew their ties to God. Evangelical Christianity provided a sense of enchantment for those alienated by a rapidly industrializing world. In forested camp meetings and riverside baptisms, in private contemplation and public water cures, in electrotherapy and mesmerism, American evangelicals communed with nature, God, and one another. A distinctive spirituality emerged pairing personal piety with a mystical relation to nature.
As Church in the Wild reveals, the revivalist attitude toward nature and the material world, which echoed that of Catholicism, spread like wildfire among Christians of all backgrounds during the years leading up to the Civil War.
In the mid-twentieth century, far more evangelicals supported such “liberal” causes as peace, social justice, and environmental protection. Only gradually did the conservative evangelical faction win dominance, allying with the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan and, eventually, George W. Bush.
In Countercultural Conservatives Axel Schäfer traces the evolution of a diffuse and pluralistic movement into the political force of the New Christian Right. In forging its complex theological and political identity, evangelicalism did not simply reject the ideas of 1960s counterculture, Schäfer argues. For all their strict Biblicism and uncompromising morality, evangelicals absorbed and extended key aspects of the countercultural worldview.
Carefully examining evangelicalism’s internal dynamics, fissures, and coalitions, this book offers an intriguing reinterpretation of the most important development in American religion and politics since World War II.
A nuanced look at the rhetorical narratives used by conservative Republicans and evangelicals to make both personal and political choices
As a political constituency, white conservative evangelicals are generally portrayed as easy to dupe, disposed to vote against their own interests, and prone to intolerance and knee-jerk reactions. In Decoding the Digital Church: Evangelical Storytelling and the Election of Donald J. Trump, Stephanie A. Martin challenges this assumption and moves beyond these overused stereotypes to develop a refined explanation for this constituency’s voting behavior.
This volume offers a fresh perspective on the study of religion and politics and stems from the author’s personal interest in the ways her experiences with believers differ from how scholars often frame this group’s rationale and behaviors. To address this disparity, Martin examines sermons, drawing on her expertise in rhetoric and communication studies with the benefits of ethnographic research in an innovative hybrid approach she terms a “digital rhetorical ethnography.” Martin’s thorough research surveys more than 150 online sermons from America’s largest evangelical megachurches in 37 different states. Through listening closely to the words of the pastors who lead these conservative congregations, Martin describes a gentler discourse less obsessed with issues like abortion or marriage equality than stereotypes of evangelicals might suggest. Instead, the politicaleconomic sermons and stories from pastors encourage true believers
to remember the exceptional nature of the nation’s founding while also deemphasizing how much American citizenship really means.
Martin grapples with and pays serious, scholarly attention to a seeming contradiction: while the large majority of white conservative evangelicals voted in 2016 for Donald J. Trump, Martin shows that many of their pastors were deeply concerned about the candidate, the divisive nature of the campaign, and the potential effect of the race on their congregants’ devotion to democratic process itself. In-depth chapters provide a fuller analysis of our current political climate, recapping previous scholarship on the history of this growing divide and establishing the groundwork to set up the dissonance between the political commitments of evangelicals and their faith that the rhetorical ethnography addresses.
South Korea is home to one of the most vibrant evangelical Protestant communities in the world. This book investigates the meanings of—and the reasons behind—an intriguing aspect of contemporary South Korean evangelicalism: the intense involvement of middle-class women. Drawing upon extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Seoul that explores the relevance of gender and women’s experiences to Korean evangelicalism, Kelly H. Chong not only helps provide a clearer picture of the evangelical movement’s success in South Korea, but interrogates the global question of contemporary women’s attraction to religious traditionalisms.
In highlighting the growing disjunction between the forces of social transformation that are rapidly liberalizing modern Korean society, and a social system that continues to uphold key patriarchal structures on both societal and familial levels, Chong relates women’s religious involvement to the contradictions of South Korea’s recent socio-cultural changes and complex engagement with modernity. By focusing on the ways in which women’s religious participation constitutes—both spiritually and institutionally—an important part of their effort to negotiate the problems and dilemmas of contemporary family and gender relations, this book explores the contradictory significance of evangelical beliefs and practices for women, which simultaneously opens up possibilities for gender negotiation/resistance, and for women’s redomestication.
The Divided Mind ofProtestant America is a documented overview of American Protestantism in American culture from beginning to end. It discusses liberal-fundamentalist tensions in America and the role of mainline Protestantism, evangelicalism, and fundamentalism in American culture.
The Divine Institution provides an account of how a theology of the family came to dominate a white evangelical tradition in the post-civil rights movement United States, providing a theological corollary to Religious Right politics. This tradition inherently enforces racial inequality in that it draws moral, religious, and political attention away from problems of racial and economic structural oppression, explaining all social problems as a failure of the individual to achieve the strong gender and sexual identities that ground the nuclear family. The consequences of this theology are both personal suffering for individuals who cannot measure up to prescribed gender and sexual roles, and political support for conservative government policies. Exposure to experiences that undermine the idea that an emphasis on the family is the solution to all social problems is causing a younger generation of white evangelicals to shift away from this narrow theological emphasis and toward a more social justice-oriented theology. The material and political effects of this shift remain to be seen.
Doctrine and Race examines the history of African American Baptists and Methodists of the early twentieth century and their struggle for equality in the context of white Protestant fundamentalism.
By presenting African American Protestantism in the context of white Protestant fundamentalism, Doctrine and Race:African American Evangelicals and Fundamentalism between the Wars demonstrates that African American Protestants were acutely aware of the manner in which white Christianity operated and how they could use that knowledge to justify social change. Mary Beth Swetnam Mathews’s study scrutinizes how white fundamentalists wrote blacks out of their definition of fundamentalism and how blacks constructed a definition of Christianity that had, at its core, an intrinsic belief in racial equality. In doing so, this volume challenges the prevailing scholarly argument that fundamentalism was either a doctrinal debate or an antimodernist force. Instead, it was a constantly shifting set of priorities for different groups at different times.
A number of African American theologians and clergy identified with many of the doctrinal tenets of the fundamentalism of their white counterparts, but African Americans were excluded from full fellowship with the fundamentalists because of their race. Moreover, these scholars and pastors did not limit themselves to traditional evangelical doctrine but embraced progressive theological concepts, such as the Social Gospel, to help them achieve racial equality. Nonetheless, they identified other forward-looking theological views, such as modernism, as threats to “true” Christianity.
Mathews demonstrates that, although traditional portraits of “the black church” have provided the illusion of a singular unified organization, black evangelical leaders debated passionately among themselves as they sought to preserve select aspects of the culture around them while rejecting others. The picture that emerges from this research creates a richer, more profound understanding of African American denominations as they struggled to contend with a white American society that saw them as inferior.
Doctrine and Race melds American religious history and race studies in innovative and compelling ways, highlighting the remarkable and rich complexity that attended to the development of African American Protestant movements.
During the height of the Guatemalan civil war, Tomás Guzaro, a Mayan evangelical pastor, led more than two hundred fellow Mayas out of guerrilla-controlled Ixil territory and into the relative safety of the government army's hands. This exodus was one of the factors that caused the guerrillas to lose their grip on the Ixil, thus hastening the return of peace to the area.
In Escaping the Fire, Guzaro relates the hardships common to most Mayas and the resulting unrest that opened the door to civil war. He details the Guatemalan army's atrocities while also describing the Guerrilla Army of the Poor's rise to power in Ixil country, which resulted in limited religious freedom, murdered church leaders, and threatened congregations. His story climaxes with the harrowing vision that induced him to guide his people out of their war-torn homeland.
Guzaro also provides an intimate look at his spiritual pilgrimage through all three of Guatemala's main religions. The son of a Mayan priest, formerly a leader in the Catholic Church, and finally a convert to Protestantism, Guzaro, in detailing his religious life, offers insight into the widespread shift toward Protestantism in Latin America over the past four decades.
Riveting and highly personal, Escaping the Fire ultimately provides a counterpoint to the usual interpretation of indigenous agency during the Guatemalan civil war by documenting the little-studied experiences of Protestants living in guerrilla-held territory.
At first glance, evangelical and Gotham seem like an odd pair. What does a movement of pious converts and reformers have to do with a city notoriously full of temptation and sin? More than you might think, says Kyle B. Roberts, who argues that religion must be considered alongside immigration, commerce, and real estate scarcity as one of the forces that shaped the New York City we know today.
In Evangelical Gotham, Roberts explores the role of the urban evangelical community in the development of New York between the American Revolution and the Civil War. As developers prepared to open new neighborhoods uptown, evangelicals stood ready to build meetinghouses. As the city’s financial center emerged and solidified, evangelicals capitalized on the resultant wealth, technology, and resources to expand their missionary and benevolent causes. When they began to feel that the city’s morals had degenerated, evangelicals turned to temperance, Sunday school, prayer meetings, antislavery causes, and urban missions to reform their neighbors. The result of these efforts was Evangelical Gotham—a complicated and contradictory world whose influence spread far beyond the shores of Manhattan.
Winner of the 2015 Dixon Ryan Fox Manuscript Prize from the New York State Historical Association
Evangelical Identity and Gendered Family Life provides a sociological and historical analysis of gender, family, and work among evangelical Protestants. In this innovative study, Sally Gallagher traces two lines of gender ideals—one of husbands’ authority and leadership, the other of mutuality and partnership in marriage—from the Puritans to the Promise Keepers into the lives of ordinary evangelicals today. Rather than simply reacting against or accommodating themselves to “secular society,” Gallagher argues that both traditional and egalitarian evangelicals draw on longstanding beliefs about gender, human nature, and the person of God.
The author bases her arguments on an analysis of evangelical family advice literature, data from a large national survey and personal interviews with over 300 evangelicals nationwide. No other work in this area draws on such a range of data and methodological resources. Evangelical Identity and Gendered Family Life establishes a standard for future research by locating the sources, strategies, and meaning of gender within evangelical Protestantism.
A comprehensive study of evangelical magazine discourse during the 1970s and 1980s and how it navigated and sustained religious convictions in a time of dramatic social change
The 1970s and 1980s were a tumultuous period in US history. In tandem with a dramatic political shift to the right, evangelicalism also entered the public discourse as a distinct religious movement and was immediately besieged by cultural appropriations and internal fragmentations. Americans in general and evangelicals in particular grappled with issues and ideas such as feminism, abortion, birth control, and restructuring traditional roles for women and the family. During this time, there was a surge in readership for evangelical periodicals such as Christianity Today, Moody Monthly, Eternity, and Post-Americans/Sojourners as well as the feminist newsletter Daughters of Sarah.
While each of these magazines—and other publications and media—contributed to and participated in the overall dissemination of evangelical ideology, they also had their own outlooks and political leanings concerning hot-button issues. In Evangelical News: Politics, Gender, and Bioethics in Conservative Christian Magazines of the 1970s and 1980s, Anja-Maria Bassimir presents a nuanced view of evangelicalism in the late twentieth century through the lens of the movement’s own media.
Bassimir argues that community can be produced in discourse, especially when shared rhetoric, concepts, and perspectives signal belonging. To accomplish this, Evangelical News traces the emergence of evangelical social and political awareness in the 1970s to the height of its power as a political program. The chapters investigate such topics as how evangelicals reenvisioned gender norms and relations in light of the feminist movement, the use of childhood as a symbol of unspoiled innocence, and the place of evangelicals as political actors.
The New Deal is often said to represent a sea change in American constitutional history, overturning a century of precedent to permit an expanded federal government, increased regulation of the economy, and eroded property protections. John Compton offers a surprising revision of this familiar narrative, showing that nineteenth-century evangelical Protestants, not New Deal reformers, paved the way for the most important constitutional developments of the twentieth century.
Following the great religious revivals of the early 1800s, American evangelicals embarked on a crusade to eradicate immorality from national life by destroying the property that made it possible. Their cause represented a direct challenge to founding-era legal protections of sinful practices such as slavery, lottery gambling, and buying and selling liquor. Although evangelicals urged the judiciary to bend the rules of constitutional adjudication on behalf of moral reform, antebellum judges usually resisted their overtures. But after the Civil War, American jurists increasingly acquiesced in the destruction of property on moral grounds.
In the early twentieth century, Oliver Wendell Holmes and other critics of laissez-faire constitutionalism used the judiciary's acceptance of evangelical moral values to demonstrate that conceptions of property rights and federalism were fluid, socially constructed, and subject to modification by democratic majorities. The result was a progressive constitutional regime--rooted in evangelical Protestantism--that would hold sway for the rest of the twentieth century.
"Looking at what he calls 'The Coming Generation' of Evangelical opinion leaders and elites . . . Hunter draws a nuanced and finely detailed portrait of young Evangelicals who, while certainly more conservative than the mainstream of American Protestants, are at least ambivalent about some important aspects of fundamentalism and at most ready to repudiate elements of fundamentalist faith, politics, and practice. . . . With this book, James Hunter confirms his position as one of the most informed and informing writers on American Evangelicalism."—Samuel C. Heilman, This World
Separation of church and state is a bedrock principal of American democracy, and so, too, is active citizen engagement. Since evangelicals comprise one of the largest and most vocal voting blocs in the United States, tensions and questions naturally arise. In the two-volume Evangelicals and Democracy in America, editors Steven Brint and Jean Reith Schroedel have assembled an authoritative collection of studies of the evangelical movement in America. Religion and Politics, the second volume of the set, focuses on the role of religious conservatives in party politics, the rhetoric evangelicals use to mobilize politically, and what the history of the evangelical movement reveals about where it may be going. Part I of Religion and Politics explores the role of evangelicals in electoral politics. Contributor Pippa Norris looks at evangelicals around the globe and finds that religiosity is a strong predictor of ideological leanings in industrialized countries. But the United States remains one of only a handful of post-industrial societies where religion plays a significant role in partisan politics. Other chapters look at voting trends, especially the growing number of higher-income evangelicals among Republican ranks, how voting is influenced both by "values" and race, and the management of the symbols and networks behind the electoral system of moral-values politics. Part II of the volume focuses on the mobilizing rhetoric of the Christian Right. Nathaniel Klemp and Stephen Macedo show how the rhetorical strategies of the Christian Right create powerful mobilizing narratives, but frequently fail to build broad enough coalitions to prevail in the pluralistic marketplace of ideas. Part III analyzes the cycles and evolution of the Christian Right. Kimberly Conger looks at the specific circumstances that have allowed evangelicals to become dominant in some Republican state party committees but not in others. D. Michael Lindsay examines the "elastic orthodoxy" that has allowed evangelicals to evolve into a formidable social and political force. The final chapter by Clyde Wilcox presents a new framework for understanding the relationship between the Christian Right and the GOP based on the ecological metaphor of co-evolution. With its companion volume on religion and society, this second volume of Evangelicals and Democracy in America offers the most complete examination yet of the social circumstances and political influence of the millions of Americans who are white evangelical Protestants. Understanding their history and prospects for the future is essential to forming a comprehensive picture of America today.
By the end of the nineteenth century, the vast majority of U.S. churches were evangelical in outlook and practice. America's turn toward modernism and embrace of science in the early twentieth century threatened evangelicalism's cultural prominence. But as confidence in modern secularism wavered in the 1960s and 1970s, evangelicalism had another great awakening. The two volumes of Evangelicals and Democracy in America trace the development and current role of evangelicalism in American social and political life. Volume I focuses on who evangelicals are today, how they relate to other groups, and what role they play in U.S. social institutions. Part I of Religion and Society examines evangelicals' identity and activism. Contributor Robert Wuthnow explores the identity built around the centrality of Jesus, church and community service, and the born-again experience. Philip Gorski explores the features of American evangelicalism and society that explain the recurring mobilization of conservative Protestants in American history. Part II looks at how evangelicals relate to other key groups in American society. Individual chapters delve into evangelicals' relationship to other conservative religious groups, women and gays, African Americans, and mainline Protestants. These chapters show sources of both solidarity and dissension within the "traditionalist alliance" and the hidden strengths of mainline Protestants' moral discourse. Part III examines religious conservatives' influence on American social institutions outside of politics. W. Bradford Wilcox, David Sikkink, Gabriel Rossman, and Rogers Smith investigate evangelicals' influence on families, schools, popular culture, and the courts, respectively. What emerges is a picture of American society as a consumer marketplace with a secular legal structure and an arena of pluralistic competition interpreting what constitutes the public good. These chapters show that religious conservatives have been shaped by these realities more than they have been able to shape them. Evangelicals and Democracy in America, Volume I is one of the most comprehensive examinations ever of this important current in American life and serves as a corrective to erroneous popular representations. These meticulously balanced studies not only clarify the religious and social origins of evangelical mobilization, but also detail both the scope and limits of evangelicals' influence in our society. This volume is the perfect complement to its companion in this landmark series, Evangelicals and Democracy in America, Volume II: Religion and Politics.
A new history explores the commercial heart of evangelical Christianity.
American evangelicalism is big business. For decades, the world’s largest media conglomerates have sought out evangelical consumers, and evangelical books have regularly become international best sellers. In the early 2000s, Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life spent ninety weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list and sold more than thirty million copies. But why have evangelicals achieved such remarkable commercial success?
According to Daniel Vaca, evangelicalism depends upon commercialism. Tracing the once-humble evangelical book industry’s emergence as a lucrative center of the US book trade, Vaca argues that evangelical Christianity became religiously and politically prominent through business activity. Through areas of commerce such as branding, retailing, marketing, and finance, for-profit media companies have capitalized on the expansive potential of evangelicalism for more than a century.
Rather than treat evangelicalism as a type of conservative Protestantism that market forces have commodified and corrupted, Vaca argues that evangelicalism is an expressly commercial religion. Although religious traditions seem to incorporate people who embrace distinct theological ideas and beliefs, Vaca shows, members of contemporary consumer society often participate in religious cultures by engaging commercial products and corporations. By examining the history of companies and corporate conglomerates that have produced and distributed best-selling religious books, bibles, and more, Vaca not only illustrates how evangelical ideas, identities, and alliances have developed through commercial activity but also reveals how the production of evangelical identity became a component of modern capitalism.
Religion is a subject often overlooked or ignored by public historians. Whether they are worried about inadvertent proselytizing or fearful of contributing to America’s ongoing culture wars, many heritage professionals steer clear of discussing religion’s formative role in the past when they build collections, mount exhibits, and develop educational programming. Yet religious communities have long been active contributors to the nation’s commemorative landscape.
Exhibiting Evangelicalism provides the first account of the growth and development of historical museums created by white evangelical Christians in the United States over the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Exploring the histories of the Museum of the Bible, the Billy Graham Center Museum, the Billy Sunday Home, and Park Street Church, Devin C. Manzullo-Thomas illustrates how these sites enabled religious leaders to develop a coherent identity for their fractious religious movement and to claim the centrality of evangelicalism to American history. In their zeal to craft a particular vision of the national past, evangelicals engaged with a variety of public history practices and techniques that made them major players in the field—including becoming early adopters of public history’s experiential turn.
Investigates the rhetorical practices used by contemporary evangelical Christian women to confront theological and cultural issues that stymie deliberation within their communities
While often perceived as an insular enclave with a high level of in-group agreement about political and social issues, predominantly white evangelicalism includes prominent voices urging deliberation about appropriate responses to sexual abuse, domestic violence, and the discourses surrounding these traumas. In Faithful Deliberation: Rhetorical Invention, Evangelicalism, and #MeToo Reckonings, T J Geiger II examines theologically reflective rhetorical invention that reconfigures trauma-minimizing commonplaces in order to facilitate community-internal deliberation.
Resting at the intersection of feminist rhetorical studies and religious rhetorics, this book contains four related theological-rhetorical case studies that consider how figures such as Beth Moore, Jen Hatmaker, Rachael Denhollander, Karen Swallow Prior, and others engaged in rhetorical invention. Each juxtaposes differing approaches to contending with rape, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and other traumas. Each case contrasts an approach based on appeals to highly circumscribed understandings of grace, purity, and other denomination-specific traditions and values with approaches rooted in those same traditions and values, but with an eye toward community transformation, healing through justice, and reinvigorated forms of forgiveness. Geiger skillfully argues that this faithful deliberation involves practices of thinking, reflecting, storytelling, and acting within a tightly bounded community that can foster change through a recommitment to core values.
These rhetorical practices exemplify the kind of inventive listening deliberative discourse requires, point to the sort of healing they may promote in response to trauma and trauma discourses, and occur within a range of genres including social media posts, blog entries, published interviews, victim impact statements, and petitions. This study of invention for evangelical-to-other-evangelical deliberative discourse contributes to rhetorical studies by demonstrating the civic and social possibilities of rhetoric within religious enclaves. By locating the case studies as recent moments in longer US public and evangelical histories of activism, deliberative practice, and politics, Faithful Deliberation brings into focus how enclaves and the dominant public sphere interact.
The first full-length study of a pivotal figure in American evangelical faith
James Dobson—child psychologist, author, radio personality, and founder of the Christian conservative organization Focus on the Family—published his first book, Dare to Discipline, in 1970 and quickly became the go-to family expert for evangelical parents across the United States as American evangelicalism rose as a major political force. The family expert became a leading voice in the Reagan Revolution, and played a role in making American evangelicals even more firmly associated with the Republican Party. Dobson’s principle beliefs are that the family is the center of Christian America and that the traditional family must be defended from perceived threats such as gay rights, feminism, abortion, and the secularization of public schools. Dobson and Focus on the Family dominated Christian media through print, radio, and online venues, and their message reached millions of American evangelical households, shaping the cultural sensibilities and political attitudes of evangelical families throughout the culture wars from the 1980s into the 2000s.
Family Matters: James Dobson and Focus on the Family’s Crusade for the Christian Home by Hilde Løvdal Stephens is an insightful history and analysis of James Dobson’s rise to fame, effect on American evangelical culture, and subsequent descent from relevance. Extensively researched, Løvdal Stephens scoured through Dobson’s books, articles, and other materials published by Focus on the Family in order to explore how evangelicals defined and defended the traditional family as an ideal and as a symbol in an ever-changing world.
By contextualizing the history of Dobson’s reign, Løvdal Stephens’s discerning analysis fills an important gap in our understandings of the politics and culture of late twentieth-century conservative Christianity in the United States. She explores complex topics ranging from Dobson’s celebration of what he believes are timeless biblical values, such as maintaining strict and defined gender roles, to the ways Dobson and Focus on the Family balanced their basic ideals with real everyday lives of average American evangelical families, facing the realities of divorce, working mothers, and other perceived threats to the traditional family.
The End is always near. The Apocalypse has sparked imaginations for millennia, while in more recent times, highly publicized predictions have thrust End-Time theology briefly into the spotlight. In the 21st century, fictional depictions of various apocalyptic scenarios are found in an endless stream of films, TV shows, and novels, while real-world media coverage of global issues including climate change and the migrant crisis often features an apocalyptic tone. Feeling the Future at Christian End-Time Performances explores this prevalent human desire to envision the End by analyzing how various live End-Time performances allow people to live in and through future time.
The book’s main focus is contemporary Christian End-Time performances and how they theatrically construct encounters with future time—not just images or ideas of a future, but viscerally and immediately real experiences of future time. Author Jill Stevenson’s examples are Hell Houses and Judgement Houses; Rapture House, a similarly styled “walk through drama” in North Carolina; Hell’s Gates, an “outdoor reality drama” in Dawsonville, Georgia; Ark Encounter, a full-size recreation of Noah’s Ark; and Tribulation Trail, an immersive thirteen-scene drama ministry based on the Book of Revelation. The book’s coda considers similarities between these Christian performances and secular survivalist prepper events, especially with respect to constructions of and language about time. In doing so, the author situates these performances within a larger tradition that challenges traditional secular/sacred distinctions and illuminates how the End Times has been employed in our current social and political moment.
Robert William Fogel was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Science in 1993.
"To take a trip around the mind of Robert Fogel, one of the grand old men of American economic history, is a rare treat. At every turning, you come upon some shiny pearl of information."—The Economist
In this broad-thinking and profound piece of history, Robert William Fogel synthesizes an amazing range of data into a bold and intriguing view of America's past and future—one in which the periodic Great Awakenings of religion bring about waves of social reform, the material lives of even the poorest Americans improve steadily, and the nation now stands poised for a renewed burst of egalitarian progress.
Speaking in tongues, also known as glossolalia, has long been a subject of curiosity as well as vigorous theological debate. A worldwide phenomenon that spans multiple Christian traditions, glossolalia is both celebrated as a supernatural gift and condemned as semiotic alchemy. For some it is mystical speech that exceeds what words can do, and for others it is mere gibberish, empty of meaning. At the heart of these differences is glossolalia’s puzzling relationship to language.
Glossolalia and the Problem of Language investigates speaking in tongues in South Korea, where it is practiced widely across denominations and congregations. Nicholas Harkness shows how the popularity of glossolalia in Korea lies at the intersection of numerous, often competing social forces, interwoven religious legacies, and spiritual desires that have been amplified by Christianity’s massive institutionalization. As evangelicalism continues to spread worldwide, Glossolalia and the Problem of Language analyzes one of its most enigmatic practices while marking a major advancement in our understanding of the power of language and its limits.
The evangelical embrace of conservatism is a familiar feature of the contemporary political landscape. What’s less well-known, however, is that the connection predates the Reagan revolution, going all the way back to the Depression and World War II. Evangelical businessmen at the time were quite active in opposing the New Deal—on both theological and economic grounds—and in doing so claimed a place alongside other conservatives in the public sphere. Like previous generations of devout laymen, they self-consciously merged their religious and business lives, financing and organizing evangelical causes with the kind of visionary pragmatism that they practiced in the boardroom.
In God’s Businessmen, Sarah Ruth Hammond explores not only these men’s personal trajectories but also those of the service clubs and other institutions that, like them, believed that businessmen were God’s instrument for the Christianization of the world. Hammond presents a capacious portrait of the relationship between the evangelical business community and the New Deal—and in doing so makes important contributions to American religious history, business history, and the history of the American state.
An incisive look at how evangelical Christians shaped—and were shaped by—the American criminal justice system.
America incarcerates on a massive scale. Despite recent reforms, the United States locks up large numbers of people—disproportionately poor and nonwhite—for long periods and offers little opportunity for restoration. Aaron Griffith reveals a key component in the origins of American mass incarceration: evangelical Christianity.
Evangelicals in the postwar era made crime concern a major religious issue and found new platforms for shaping public life through punitive politics. Religious leaders like Billy Graham and David Wilkerson mobilized fears of lawbreaking and concern for offenders to sharpen appeals for Christian conversion, setting the stage for evangelicals who began advocating tough-on-crime politics in the 1960s. Building on religious campaigns for public safety earlier in the twentieth century, some preachers and politicians pushed for “law and order,” urging support for harsh sentences and expanded policing. Other evangelicals saw crime as a missionary opportunity, launching innovative ministries that reshaped the practice of religion in prisons. From the 1980s on, evangelicals were instrumental in popularizing criminal justice reform, making it a central cause in the compassionate conservative movement. At every stage in their work, evangelicals framed their efforts as colorblind, which only masked racial inequality in incarceration and delayed real change.
Today evangelicals play an ambiguous role in reform, pressing for reduced imprisonment while backing law-and-order politicians. God’s Law and Order shows that we cannot understand the criminal justice system without accounting for evangelicalism’s impact on its historical development.
This new study explores how evangelicalism played a vital role in the development of the Victorian novel. In contrast to those who see the evangelical movement as trivial to our histories of the novel and part of the losing side in religion’s battle with secularity, Good Words: Evangelicalism and the Victorian Novel examines fiction by major writers of the nineteenth century—Thackeray, Dickens, Wood, MacDonald, Collins, and Butler—and reveals the extent to which the novel was shaped by evangelical thought and practice.
Rather than getting lost in historical and theological rabbit holes, Good Words invites readers to think about why evangelicalism still matters for the stories we tell about fiction in the Victorian period. The result has major implications for our understanding of the Victorian novel, our conception of the relationship between nineteenth-century literature and religion, the way in which we think about evangelical culture in the modern world, and our ideas about the practices and protocols of scholarly reading.
Goodbye, My Tribe: An Evangelical Exodus is Vic Sizemore’s collection of personal essays chronicling two simultaneous transformations. One is the gathering of unconnected—and nonpolitical—evangelical congregations across the nation into the political juggernaut called the Religious Right; the other is the author’s own coming to terms with the emotional and spiritual trauma of his life deep inside fundamentalist Christianity, and his struggle to free himself from its grasp. Sizemore, whose father was a preacher and professor at a small West Virginia Bible college, attended Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, arguably the crucible of American evangelical Christianity.
Sizemore began writing these essays with the aim of exploring and understanding what happened when the mythology of his “tribe” crumbled from beneath his feet. He draws heavily on his upbringing and his family history as a framework for how his “tribe” of white evangelicals have found ways to reconcile Christianity with what the author finds to be troubling stances on many social issues, among them race, gender, sexuality, materialism, anti-intellectualism, and white supremacy.
In a clear-eyed and eloquent voice, Sizemore grapples movingly with his own bewilderment and chagrin as he struggles to reconcile the essential philosophical and moral decay that he believes many evangelicals have come to embrace. His insights, arranged topically and thematically and told through graceful and accessible prose, toggle between memoir and literary journalism, along a spectrum that touches on history, philosophy, theology, and personal reflections.
On May 10, 1900, an enthusiastic Brooklyn crowd bid farewell to the Quito. The ship sailed for famine-stricken Bombay, carrying both tangible relief—thousands of tons of corn and seeds—and “a tender message of love and sympathy from God’s children on this side of the globe to those on the other.” The Quito may never have gotten under way without support from the era’s most influential religious newspaper, the Christian Herald, which urged its American readers to alleviate poverty and suffering abroad and at home. In Holy Humanitarians, Heather D. Curtis argues that evangelical media campaigns transformed how Americans responded to domestic crises and foreign disasters during a pivotal period for the nation.
Through graphic reporting and the emerging medium of photography, evangelical publishers fostered a tremendously popular movement of faith-based aid that rivaled the achievements of competing agencies like the American Red Cross. By maintaining that the United States was divinely ordained to help the world’s oppressed and needy, the Christian Herald linked humanitarian assistance with American nationalism at a time when the country was stepping onto the global stage. Social reform, missionary activity, disaster relief, and economic and military expansion could all be understood as integral features of Christian charity.
Drawing on rigorous archival research, Curtis lays bare the theological motivations, social forces, cultural assumptions, business calculations, and political dynamics that shaped America’s ambivalent embrace of evangelical philanthropy. In the process she uncovers the seeds of today’s heated debates over the politics of poverty relief and international aid.
This eloquent study describes the complex process of assimilation that occurred among multi-ethnic groups in Wachovia, the evangelical community that settled a 100,000-acre tract in Piedmont North Carolina from 1750 to 1860. It counters commonplace notions that evangelicalism was a divisive force in the antebellum South, demonstrating instead the ability of evangelical beliefs and practices to unify diverse peoples and foster shared cultural values.
In Hope's Promise, Scott Rohrer dissects the internal workings of the ecumenical Moravian movement at Wachovia—how this disparate group of pilgrims hailing from many countries (Germany, Ireland, Scandinavia, England) and different denominations (Lutheran, Reformed, Methodist, Anglican) yielded their ethnicities as they became, above all, a people of faith. By examining the "open" farm congregations of Hope, Friedberg, and Friedland, Rohrer offers a sensitive portrayal of their evangelical life and the momentous cultural changes it wrought: the organization of tight-knit congregations bound by "heart religion;" the theology of the new birth; the shape of religious discipline; the sacrament of communion; and the role of music. Drawing on courthouse documents and church records, Rohrer carefully demonstrates how various groups began to take on traits of the others. He also illustrates how evangelical values propelled interaction with the outside world—at the meetinghouse and the frontier store, for example—and fostered even more collective and accelerated change.
As the Moravians became ever more "American" and "southern," the polyglot of ethnicities that was Wachovia would, under the unifying banner of evangelicalism, meld into one of the most sophisticated religious communities in early America.
As immigration from Asia and Latin America reshapes the demographic composition of the U.S., some analysts have anticipated the decline of conservative white evangelicals’ influence in politics. Yet, Donald Trump captured a larger share of the white evangelical vote in the 2016 election than any candidate in the previous four presidential elections. Why has the political clout of white evangelicals persisted at a time of increased racial and ethnic diversity? In Immigrants, Evangelicals, and Politics in an Era of Demographic Change, political scientist Janelle Wong examines a new generation of Asian American and Latino evangelicals and offers an account of why demographic change has not contributed to a political realignment.
Asian Americans and Latinos currently constitute 13 percent of evangelicals, and their churches are among the largest, fastest growing organizations in their communities. While evangelical identity is associated with conservative politics, Wong draws from national surveys and interviews to show that non-white evangelicals express political attitudes that are significantly less conservative than those of their white counterparts. Black, Asian American, and Latino evangelicals are much more likely to support policies such as expanded immigration rights, increased taxation of the wealthy, and government interventions to slow climate change. As Wong argues, non-white evangelicals’ experiences as members of racial or ethnic minority groups often lead them to adopt more progressive political views compared to their white counterparts.
However, despite their growth in numbers, non-white evangelicals—particularly Asian Americans and Latinos—are concentrated outside of swing states, have lower levels of political participation than white evangelicals, and are less likely to be targeted by political campaigns. As a result, white evangelicals dominate the evangelical policy agenda and are overrepresented at the polls. Also, many white evangelicals have adopted even more conservative political views in response to rapid demographic change, perceiving, for example, that discrimination against Christians now rivals discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities.
Wong demonstrates that immigrant evangelicals are neither “natural” Republicans nor “natural” Democrats. By examining the changing demographics of the evangelical movement, Immigrants, Evangelicals, and Politics in an Era of Demographic Change sheds light on an understudied constituency that has yet to find its political home.
In Kincraft Todne Thomas explores the internal dynamics of community life among black evangelicals, who are often overshadowed by white evangelicals and the common equation of the “Black Church” with an Afro-Protestant mainline. Drawing on fieldwork in an Afro-Caribbean and African American church association in Atlanta, Thomas locates black evangelicals at the center of their own religious story, presenting their determined spiritual relatedness as a form of insurgency. She outlines how church members cocreate themselves as spiritual kin through what she calls kincraft—the construction of one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Kincraft, which Thomas traces back to the diasporic histories and migration experiences of church members, reflects black evangelicals' understanding of Christian familial connection as transcending racial, ethnic, and denominational boundaries in ways that go beyond the patriarchal nuclear family. Church members also use their spiritual relationships to navigate racial and ethnic discrimination within the majority-white evangelical movement. By charting kincraft's functions and significance, Thomas demonstrates the ways in which black evangelical social life is more varied and multidimensional than standard narratives of evangelicalism would otherwise suggest.
Mixtec Evangelicals is a comparative ethnography of four Mixtec communities in Oaxaca, detailing the process by which economic migration and religious conversion combine to change the social and cultural makeup of predominantly folk-Catholic communities. The book describes the effects on the home communities of the Mixtecs who travel to northern Mexico and the United States in search of wage labor and return having converted from their rural Catholic roots to Evangelical Protestant religions.
O’Connor identifies globalization as the root cause of this process. She demonstrates the ways that neoliberal policies have forced Mixtecs to migrate and how migration provides the contexts for conversion. Converts challenge the set of customs governing their Mixtec villages by refusing to participate in the Catholic ceremonies and social gatherings that are at the center of traditional village life. The home communities have responded in a number of ways—ranging from expulsion of converts to partial acceptance and adjustments within the village—depending on the circumstances of conversion and number of converts returning.
Presenting data and case studies resulting from O’Connor’s ethnographic field research in Oaxaca and various migrant settlements in Mexico and the United States, Mixtec Evangelicals explores this phenomenon of globalization and observes how ancient communities are changed by their own emissaries to the outside world. Students and scholars of anthropology, Latin American studies, and religion will find much in this book to inform their understanding of globalization, modernity, indigeneity, and religious change.
In Native Americans and the Christian Right, Andrea Smith advances social movement theory beyond simplistic understandings of social-justice activism as either right-wing or left-wing and urges a more open-minded approach to the role of religion in social movements. In examining the interplay of biblical scripture, gender, and nationalism in Christian Right and Native American activism, Smith rethinks the nature of political strategy and alliance-building for progressive purposes, highlighting the potential of unlikely alliances, termed “cowboys and Indians coalitions” by one of her Native activist interviewees. She also complicates ideas about identity, resistance, accommodation, and acquiescence in relation to social-justice activism.
Smith draws on archival research, interviews, and her own participation in Native struggles and Christian Right conferences and events. She considers American Indian activism within the Promise Keepers and new Charismatic movements. She also explores specific opportunities for building unlikely alliances. For instance, while evangelicals’ understanding of the relationship between the Bible and the state may lead to reactionary positions on issues including homosexuality, civil rights, and abortion, it also supports a relatively progressive position on prison reform. In terms of evangelical and Native American feminisms, she reveals antiviolence organizing to be a galvanizing force within both communities, discusses theories of coalition politics among both evangelical and indigenous women, and considers Native women’s visions of sovereignty and nationhood. Smith concludes with a reflection on the implications of her research for the field of Native American studies.
Evangelical Christianity is Mexico’s fastest-growing religious movement, with about ten million adherents today. Most belong to Protestant denominations introduced from the United States (e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists), but perhaps as many as 800,000 are members of homegrown, “native” evangelical sects. These native Mexican sects share much with the American denominations of which they are spinoffs. For instance, they are Trinitarian, Anabaptist, and Millenarian; they emphasize a personal relationship with God, totally rejecting intermediation by saints; and they insist that they are the only true Christians. Beyond that, each native sect has its distinctive characteristics.
This book focuses on two sharply contrastive native evangelical sects in Central Mexico: Amistad y Vida (Friendship and Life) and La Luz del Mundo (The Light of the World). The former, founded in 1982, now has perhaps 120,000 adherents nationwide. It is nonhierarchical, extremely egalitarian, and has no dogmatic directives. It is a cheerful religion that emphasizes charity, community service, and personal kindness as the path to salvation. It attracts new members, mainly from the urban middle class, through personal example rather than proselytizing. La Luz del Mundo, founded in 1926, now has about 350,000 members in Mexico and perhaps one million in the hemisphere. It is hierarchically organized and demands total devotion to the sect’s founder and his son, who are seen as direct links to Jesus on Earth. It is a proselytizing sect that recruits mainly among the urban poor by providing economic benefits within the congregations, but does no community service as such.
Based on ten years of fieldwork (1996–2006) and contextualized by nearly fifty years of anthropological study in the region, Native Evangelism in Central Mexico presents the first ethnography of Mexico’s native evangelical congregations.
Powerful Devices studies spiritual warfare performances as an apparatus for disestablishing structures of power and knowledge, and establishing righteousness in their stead. Drawing on performance studies’ emphasis on radicality and breaking of social norms as devices of social transformation, the book demonstrates how Christian groups with dominant cultural power but who perceive themselves as embattled wield the ideas of performance activism. Combining religious studies with ethnography, Powerful Devices explores Nigerian Pentecostals and US Evangelicals’ praxis of transnational spiritual warfare. By closely studying spiritual warfare prayers as a “device,” Powerful Devices shows how the rituals of prayer enable an apprehension of time, paradigms of self-enhancement, and the subversion of politics and authority. A critical intervention, Powerful Devices explores charismatic Christianity’s relationship to science and secular authority, technology and temporality, neoliberalism, and reactionary ideology.
In the wake of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, the Christian Right expected major victories in the 1998 elections. Instead, many of its allies lost close contests, and the movement was seen as a liability in some high-profile campaigns. In the only in-depth study of the Christian Right's role in these races, leading scholars analyze the role of the movement in fourteen key states, from Maine to California, and address speculations that the movement is fading from the American political scene.
The book focuses on elections on the state and local levels, where the Christian Right is most influential, and it describes the movement's niche in some detail. Although each campaign described in the book had its unique characteristics, the editors have drawn some broad conclusions about the 1998 elections. While the movement was weak in the areas of candidate recruitment and fundraising, they say, the outcome may have also been related to external factors including a broader turnout of typically Democratic constituencies and the country's boredom with the scandal that conservatives had made the centerpiece of their campaign. Despite the setbacks of 1998, the contributors argue, the Christian Right continues to have an enormous influence on the political dialogue of the country.
Written from an unbiased, nonpartisan perspective, this volume sheds light on a topic that is too frequently mired in controversy.
Protestant evangelicalism has spread rapidly in Latin America at the same time that foreign corporations have taken hold of economies there. These concurrent developments have led some observers to view this religious movement as a means of melding converts into a disciplined work force for foreign capitalists rather than as a reflection of conscious individual choices made for a variety of personal, as well as economic, reasons.
In this pioneering study, Elizabeth Brusco challenges such assumptions and explores the intra-household motivations for evangelical conversion in Colombia. She shows how the asceticism required of evangelicals (no drinking, smoking, or extramarital sexual relations are allowed) redirects male income back into the household, thereby raising the living standard of women and children. This benefit helps explain the appeal of evangelicalism for women and questions the traditional assumption that organized religion always disadvantages women.
Brusco also demonstrates how evangelicalism appeals to men by offering an alternative to the more dysfunctional aspects of machismo. Case studies add a fascinating human dimension to her findings.
With the challenges this book poses to conventional wisdom about economic, gender, and religious behavior, it will be important reading for a wide audience in anthropology, women’s studies, economics, and religion. For all students of Latin America, it offers thoughtful new perspectives on a major, grass-roots agent of social change.
Religion in the Old South
Donald G. Mathews University of Chicago Press, 1979 Library of Congress BR535.M37 | Dewey Decimal 277.5
"A major study of American cultural history, a book distinguished both for its careful research and for its innovative interpretations. . . . Professor Mathews's book is an explanation of what religion meant in the everyday lives of southern whites and blacks. It is indispensable reading not just for those who want to know more about the Old South but for anyone who wants to understand the South today."—David Herbert Donald, Harvard University
"A major achievement—a magnificently provocative contribution to the understanding of the history of religion in America."—William G. McLoughlin, Book Reviews
"A meticulous and well-documented study . . . In the changing connotations of the word 'liberty' lie most of the dilemmas of Southern (and American) history, dilemmas Dr. Mathews analyses with considerable penetration."—Times Literary Supplement
"The most compact and yet comprehensive view of the Old South in its religious dimension that is presently available. This is a pioneering work by one who is widely read in the sources and is creative enough to synthesize and introduce fresh themes. . . . He makes a unique contribution to southern historiography which will act as a corrective upon earlier works. . . . Boldly stated, every library that consults Choice should purchase this volume."—Choice
"Mathews presents us with the findest and grandest history of old southern religion that one could imagine finding in so short a book on so large a topic. . . . Here stands in its own right a masterpiece of regional historiography of religion in America."—William A. Clebsch, Reviews in American History
This challenging collection of essays offers a refreshing approach to the troubling--and timely--subject of religion and public policy in America, and the ways in which issues of church and state affect our national identity.
The result of a series of conferences on religion and politics conducted by the Public Religion project at the University of Chicago, funded by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trust, this collection brings together an extraordinarily diverse set of contributors. Represented within its pages are the ideas and opinions of scholars, politicians, and religious leaders with backgrounds in law, politics, history, and divinity, among them Senator Paul Simon of Illinois. With its wide range of critical approaches and varied perspectives, this volume makes a vibrant contribution to the national dialogue on politics and religion.
Chief among the essay topics are the evangelical roots of American political life; early conflicts between Enlightenment thinking and spiritual impulses in developing a national identity; the practical problems that today's politicians face in campaigning; the impact of constitutional and legal language regarding our definitions of religion; and the way in which the media's treatment of our spiriutal life frames our perceptions of it. These thought-provoking essays will inspire readers to rethink, argue, perhaps act, but most importantly, to converse about this timely and important issue.
This volume will have wide cross-disciplinary appeal. Students and scholars of history, religious studies, and political science will find great value within its pages, as will scholars of divinity and law, and members of this general public concerned with the intersection of faith and politics in American life.
While religious leaders often have enormous influence over their members’ beliefs and how they translate their beliefs into action in everyday life, the individual family remains the place where religious values are practiced through and ultimately transferred to the next generation. As such, the family is an extremely important, though frequently overlooked, topic of study for sociologists of religion.
In Remaking the Godly Marriage, John Bartkowski studies evangelical Protestants and their views on marriage and gender relations and how they are lived within individual families. The author compares elite evangelical prescriptions for godly family living with the day-to-day practices in conservative Protestant households. He asks: How serious are the debates over gender and the family that are manifested within contemporary evangelicalism? What are the values that underlie this debate? Have these internecine disputes been altered by the emergence of new evangelical movements such as biblical feminism and the Promise Keepers? And given the fact that leading evangelicals advance competing visions of godly family life, how do conservative religious spouses make sense of their own family relationships and gender identities?
Through in-depth interviews with evangelical married couples and an exhaustive study of evangelical family advice manuals, Bartkowski explores the disputes and ambivalence concerning traditional gender roles and patriarchal models of family life, which derive from the tension between evangelical Protestantism as a religious subculture and the broader American secular culture in which it is embedded. Bartkowski reveals how evangelical men and women jointly negotiate gender roles within their families and selectively appropriate values of the larger culture even as they attempt to cope with the conflicting messages of their own faith.
Evangelicals and Republicans have been powerful—and active—allies in American politics since the 1970s. But as public opinions have changed, are young evangelicals’ political identities and attitudes on key issues changing too? And if so, why? In Rock of Ages, Jeremiah Castle answers these questions to understand their important implications for American politics and society.
Castle develops his own theory of public opinion among young evangelicals to predict and explain their political attitudes and voting behavior. Relying on both survey data and his own interviews with evangelical college students, he shows that while some young evangelicals may be more liberal in their attitudes on some issues, most are just as firmly Republican, conservative, and pro-life on abortion as the previous generation.
Rock of Ages considers not only what makes young evangelicals different from the previous generation, but also what that means for both the church and American politics.
Threatened by the proliferation of cheap, mass-produced publications, the Religious Tract Society issued a series of publications on popular science during the 1840s. The books were intended to counter the developing notion that science and faith were mutually exclusive, and the Society's authors employed a full repertoire of evangelical techniques—low prices, simple language, carefully structured narratives—to convert their readers. The application of such techniques to popular science resulted in one of the most widely available sources of information on the sciences in the Victorian era.
A fascinating study of the tenuous relationship between science and religion in evangelical publishing, Science and Salvation examines questions of practice and faith from a fresh perspective. Rather than highlighting works by expert men of science, Aileen Fyfe instead considers a group of relatively undistinguished authors who used thinly veiled Christian rhetoric to educate first, but to convert as well. This important volume is destined to become essential reading for historians of science, religion, and publishing alike.
America’s religious landscape is in flux. New churches are springing up and many older churches are redefining themselves to survive. At the forefront of this denominational free-for-all are evangelical “seeker” churches.
These churches target “seekers”—individuals of any faith or denominational background who seek spiritual fulfillment but are not currently affiliated with any specific church. By focusing on this largely untapped group, seeker churches have become one of the fastest-growing religious movements in the country. In his study, Kimon Sargeant provides a sociological context for the rise of these churches by exploring the rituals, messages, strategies, and denominational functions of this emerging form of American evangelical Protestantism.
Featuring live bands, professional lighting and sound systems, and multi-media presentations, seeker churches are attracting many people who have “dropped out” of organized religion. To broaden their appeal, they offer attenders advice on everyday issues ranging from relationships to finance.
Sargeant focuses on the success of the Willow Creek Association, the seeker church association started by the Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago. With over 5,000 member churches, the seven-year old association has already outdistanced 90 percent of American denominations and is the leader of the seeker church movement. Through eyewitness accounts and careful research, Sargeant reveals the “seeker” movement to be a “reformation” of American Protestantism.
Losing weight and changing your sexual orientation are both notoriously difficult to do successfully. Yet many faithful evangelical Christians believe that thinness and heterosexuality are godly ideals—and that God will provide reliable paths toward them for those who fall short. Seeking the Straight and Narrow is a fascinating account of the world of evangelical efforts to alter our strongest bodily desires.
Drawing on fieldwork at First Place, a popular Christian weight-loss program, and Exodus International, a network of ex-gay ministries, Lynne Gerber explores why some Christians feel that being fat or gay offends God, what exactly they do to lose weight or go straight, and how they make sense of the program’s results—or, frequently, their lack. Gerber notes the differences and striking parallels between the two programs, and, more broadly, she traces the ways that other social institutions have attempted to contain the excesses associated with fatness and homosexuality. Challenging narratives that place evangelicals in constant opposition to dominant American values, Gerber shows that these programs reflect the often overlooked connection between American cultural obsessions and Christian ones.
Sensational Devotion examines contemporary Passion plays, biblical theme parks, Holy Land recreations, creationist museums, and megachurches in order to understand how they serve their evangelical believer-users while also shaping larger cultural and national dialogues. Jill Stevenson explores how performative media support specific theologies and core beliefs by creating sensual, live experiences for those who use them. The book explores evangelical performance across a range of media and sites, including film, television, theater, tourist attractions, museums, and places of worship. Using historical research coupled with firsthand experiences, it critically examines these spaces and events within their specific religious, cultural, and national contexts, while placing them within a long devotional tradition to suggest how they cultivate religious belief by generating vivid, sensual, affectively oriented, and individualized experiences. Stevenson’s analysis builds upon existing work on performance and cognition, as well as theories of affect, as it contributes to existing scholarship on American evangelicalism and evangelical Christian media.
Since World War II, historians have analyzed a phenomenon of “white flight” plaguing the urban areas of the northern United States. One of the most interesting cases of “white flight” occurred in the Chicago neighborhoods of Englewood and Roseland, where seven entire church congregations from one denomination, the Christian Reformed Church, left the city in the 1960s and 1970s and relocated their churches to nearby suburbs. In Shades of White Flight, sociologist Mark T. Mulder investigates the migration of these Chicago church members, revealing how these churches not only failed to inhibit white flight, but actually facilitated the congregations’ departure.
Using a wealth of both archival and interview data, Mulder sheds light on the forces that shaped these midwestern neighborhoods and shows that, surprisingly, evangelical religion fostered both segregation as well as the decline of urban stability. Indeed, the Roseland and Englewood stories show how religion—often used to foster community and social connectedness—can sometimes help to disintegrate neighborhoods. Mulder describes how the Dutch CRC formed an insular social circle that focused on the local church and Christian school—instead of the local park or square or market—as the center point of the community. Rather than embrace the larger community, the CRC subculture sheltered themselves and their families within these two places. Thus it became relatively easy—when black families moved into the neighborhood—to sell the church and school and relocate in the suburbs. This is especially true because, in these congregations, authority rested at the local church level and in fact they owned the buildings themselves.
Revealing how a dominant form of evangelical church polity—congregationalism—functioned within the larger phenomenon of white flight, Shades of White Flight lends new insights into the role of religion and how it can affect social change, not always for the better.
In 1999, the Reverend Jerry Falwell outed Tinky-Winky, the purple character from TV's Teletubbies. Events such as this reinforced in many quarters the common idea that evangelicals are reactionary, out of touch, and just plain paranoid. But reducing evangelicals to such caricatures does not help us understand their true spiritual and political agendas and the means they use to advance them. Shaking the World for Jesus moves beyond sensationalism to consider how the evangelical movement has effectively targeted Americans—as both converts and consumers—since the 1970s.
Thousands of products promoting the Christian faith are sold to millions of consumers each year through the Web, mail order catalogs, and even national chains such as Kmart and Wal-Mart. Heather Hendershot explores in this book the vast industry of film, video, magazines, and kitsch that evangelicals use to spread their message. Focusing on the center of conservative evangelical culture—the white, middle-class Americans who can afford to buy "Christian lifestyle" products—she examines the industrial history of evangelist media, the curious subtleties of the products themselves, and their success in the religious and secular marketplace.
To garner a wider audience, Hendershot argues, evangelicals have had to carefully temper their message. But in so doing, they have painted themselves into a corner. In the postwar years, evangelical media wore the message of salvation on its sleeve, but as the evangelical media industry has grown, many of its most popular products have been those with heavily diluted Christian messages. In the eyes of many followers, the evangelicals who purvey such products are sellouts—hucksters more interested in making money than spreading the word of God.
Working to understand evangelicalism rather than pass judgment on it, Shaking the World for Jesus offers a penetrating glimpse into a thriving religious phenomenon.
Long before today’s culture wars, the “Third Great Awakening” rocked America. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, evangelists such as Dwight L. Moody and Billy Sunday roused citizens to renounce sin as it manifested in popular culture, moral ambiguity, and the changing role of women.
Sin in the City examines three urban revivals in turn-of-the-century Chicago to show how revivalists negotiated that era’s perceived racial, sexual, and class threats. While most studies of this movement have focused on its male leaders and their interactions with society, Thekla Ellen Joiner raises new questions about gender and race by exploring Third Awakening revivalism as the ritualized performance of an evangelical social system defined by middle-class Protestant moral aspirations for urban America. Rather than approaching these events merely as the achievements of persuasive men, she views them as choreographed collective rituals reinforcing a moral order defined by ideals of femininity, masculinity, and racial purity.
Joiner reveals how revivalist rhetoric and ritual shifted from sentimentalist identification of sin with males to a more hard-nosed focus on females, castigating “loose women” whose economic and sexual independence defied revivalist ideals and its civic culture. She focuses on Dwight L. Moody’s 1893 World’s Fair revival, the 1910 Chapman-Alexander campaign, and the 1918 Billy Sunday revival, comparing the locations, organization, messages, and leaders of these three events to depict the shift from masculinized to feminized sin. She identifies the central role women played in the Third Awakening as the revivalists promoted feminine virtue as the corrective to America’s urban decline. She also shows that even as its definition of sin became more feminized, Billy Sunday’s revivalism began to conform to Chicago’s emerging color line.
Enraged by rapid social change in cities like Chicago, these preachers spurred Protestant evangelicals to formulate a gendered and racialized moral regime for urban America. Yet, as Joiner shows, even as revivalists demonized new forms of entertainment, they used many of the modern cultural practices popularized in theaters and nickelodeons to boost the success of their mass conversions.
Sin in the City shows that the legacy of the Third Awakening lives on today in the religious right’s sociopolitical activism; crusade for family values; disparagement of feminism; and promotion of spirituality in middle-class, racial, and cultural terms. Providing cultural and gender analysis too often lacking in the study of American religious history, it offers a new model for understanding the development of a gendered theology and set of religious practices that influenced Protestantism in a period of enormous social change.
Stained Glass Ceilings speaks to the intersection of gender and power within American evangelicalism by examining the formation of evangelical leaders in two seminary communities.Southern Baptist Theological Seminary inspires a vision of human flourishing through gender differentiation and male headship. Men practice “Godly Manhood," and are taught to act as the "head" of a family, while their wives are socialized into codes of “Godly Womanhood" that prioritize prescribed gender roles. This power structure privileges men yet offers agency to their wives in women-centered spaces and through marital relationships. Meanwhile, Asbury Theological Seminary promises freedom from gendered hierarchies. Appealing to a story of gender-blind equality, Asbury welcomes women into classrooms, administrative offices, and pulpits. But the institution’s construction of egalitarianism obscures the fact that women are rewarded for adapting to an existing male-centered status quo rather than for developing their own voices as women. Featuring high-profile evangelicals such as Al Mohler and Owen Strachan, along with young seminarians poised to lead the movement in the coming decades, Stained Glass Ceilings illustrates the liabilities of white evangelical toolkits and argues that evangelical culture upholds male-centered structures of power even as it facilitates meaning and identity.
In 1946, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) undertook Operation Dixie, an initiative to recruit industrial workers in the American South. Elizabeth and Ken Fones-Wolf plumb rarely used archival sources and rich oral histories to explore the CIO's fraught encounter with the evangelical Protestantism and religious culture of southern whites.
The authors' nuanced look at working class religion reveals how laborers across the surprisingly wide evangelical spectrum interpreted their lives through their faith. Factors like conscience, community need, and lived experience led individual preachers to become union activists and mill villagers to defy the foreman and minister alike to listen to organizers. As the authors show, however, all sides enlisted belief in the battle. In the end, the inability of northern organizers to overcome the suspicion with which many evangelicals viewed modernity played a key role in Operation Dixie's failure, with repercussions for labor and liberalism that are still being felt today.
Identifying the role of the sacred in the struggle for southern economic justice, and placing class as a central aspect in southern religion, Struggle for the Soul of the Postwar South provides new understandings of how whites in the region wrestled with the options available to them during a crucial period of change and possibility.
Over the course of the twentieth century, evangelicals have in a variety of ways adjusted their world view to accommodate the changes in modern life. At the same time, there are important continuities between the ideas and attitudes of evangelicals in the 1920s and those of the late 1970s. Little attention has actually been paid to changes in this important social and political group since the Scopes trial and the election of 1976, when evangelical concerns played a major role in national politics. David Watt, in this readable and persuasive book, examines what happened in that fifty-year period. This book is an intellectual history of the evangelical movement in the period of its rise to prominence and power.
What Watt finds is that changes were more striking than continuities. Many of these changes manifested themselves in shifts of focus--from an emphasis on the second coming of Christ to the family, from privatization to politicization of religious concerns, from an antipathy to therapeutic practices to an acceptance of many of the assumptions of modern psychology. Watt believes that evangelicalism, as every other "ism," is subject to the influence of conflicting ideologies.
The book explores ideas and attitudes, not practice. It is based on the popular literature produced by evangelicals. In many ways it does not develop and prove a thesis; rather, it puts what we think we know about the experience of evangelicalism in this country into the context of the lives of evangelicals themselves.
In the 1990s, many evangelical Christian organizations and church leaders began to acknowledge their long history of racism and launched efforts at becoming more inclusive of people of color. While much of this racial reconciliation movement has not directly confronted systemic racism's structural causes, there exists a smaller countermovement within evangelicalism, primarily led by women of color who are actively engaged in antiracism and social justice struggles. In Unreconciled Andrea Smith examines these movements through a critical ethnic studies lens, evaluating the varying degrees to which evangelical communities that were founded on white supremacy have addressed racism. Drawing on evangelical publications, sermons, and organization statements, as well as ethnographic fieldwork and participation in evangelical events, Smith shows how evangelicalism is largely unable to effectively challenge white supremacy due to its reliance upon discourses of whiteness. At the same time, the work of progressive evangelical women of color not only demonstrates that evangelical Christianity can be an unexpected place in which to find theoretical critique and social justice organizing but also shows how critical ethnic studies' interventions can be applied broadly across political and religious divides outside the academy.
Ye That Are Men Now Serve Him examines how religious belief reshaped concepts of gender during the New South period that took place from 1877 to 1915 in ways that continue to manifest today.
Modernity remade much of the world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and was nowhere more transformational than in the American South. In the wake of the Civil War, the region not only formed new legal, financial, and social structures, but citizens of the South also faced disorienting uncertainty about personal identity and even gender itself. Ye That Are Men Now Serve Him traces the changes in southern gender roles during the New South period of 1877–1915 and demonstrates that religion is the key to perceiving how constructions of gender changed.
The Civil War cleaved southerners from the culture they had developed organically during antebellum decades, raising questions that went to the very heart of selfhood: What does it mean to be a man? How does a good woman behave? Unmoored from traditional anchors of gender, family, and race, southerners sought guidance from familiar sources: scripture and their churches. In Ye That Are Men Now Serve Him, Colin Chapell traces how concepts of gender evolved within the majority Baptist and Methodist denominations as compared to the more fluid and innovative Holiness movement.
Grounded in expansive research into the archives of the Southern Baptist Convention; Methodist Episcopal Church, South; and the Holiness movement, Chapell’s writing is also enlivened by a rich trove of primary sources: diaries, sermons, personal correspondence, published works, and unpublished memoirs. Chapell artfully contrasts the majority Baptist and Methodist view of gender with the relatively radical approaches of the emerging Holiness movement, thereby bringing into focus how subtle differences in belief gave rise to significantly different ideas of gender roles.
Scholars have explored class, race, and politics as factors that contributed to contemporary southern identity, and Chapell restores theology to its intuitive place at the center of southern identity. Probing and illuminating, Ye That Are Men Now Serve Him offers much of interest to scholars and readers of the South, southern history, and religion.