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.
The term "conservative," when employed today in reference to politicians and beliefs, can denote groups as diverse and incompatible as the religious right, libertarians, and opponents of large, centralized government. Yet the original conservative philosophy, first developed in the eighteenth century by Edmund Burke, was most concerned with managing change. This kind of genuine conservatism has a renewed relevance in a complex world where change is rapid, pervasive, and dislocating.
In Conservatism, Kieron O’Hara presents a thought-provoking revision of the traditional conservative philosophy, here crafted for the modern age. As O’Hara argues, conservatism transcends traditional politics and has surprising applications—not least as the most appropriate and practical response to climate change. He shows what a properly conservative ideology looks like today, and draws on such great conservative thinkers as Burke and Adam Smith, philosophers from Plato to Wittgenstein, and contemporary social commentators such as Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Ulrich Beck, and Jared Diamond, in order to outline how conservative philosophy lays bare our failure to understand our own society. O’Hara proves as well that conservatism is distinct from neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism, and the extreme positions of many of today’s most outspoken commentators.
In this comprehensive and detailed description of a philosophy of change and innovation, O’Hara shows how conservatism can be an ideology sensitive to cultural differences among the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere. As well, he highlights key issues of technology, trust, and privacy. Conservatism is a provocative read and a level-headed guide to cutting through the many voices of policy makers and pundits claiming to represent conservative points of view.
Consumers of American media find themselves in a news world that has shifted toward more conservative reporting. This book takes a measured, historical view of the shift, addressing factors that include the greater skill with which conservatives have used the media, the media’s gradual trend toward conservatism, the role of religion, and the effects of media conglomeration. The book makes the case that the media have managed to not only enable today’s conservative resurgence but also ignore, largely, the consequences of that change for the American people.
"A magisterially written, well-researched, informative, and entertaining biography of a woman who helped throw open the doors to broader participation and power for women in the Republican Party and American politics."
---Dave Dempsey, author of William G. Milliken: Michigan's Passionate Moderate
"Elly Peterson will be a text to which historians and researchers turn for insight into the yin and yang of mainstream politics in the mid-century."
---Patricia Sullivan, past president, Journalism and Women Symposium
"This lively portrait of a leading woman in the Republican Party between 1952 and 1982 also charts the party's shift to the right after 1964, revealingly viewed through the eyes of liberal Republican women. Intensively researched with ethnographic attention to the subtleties of political culture, Fitzgerald's book is essential reading for anyone interested in how the Republican Party changed during the turbulent decades after 1960 and how women and women's issues shaped those changes."
---Kathryn Kish Sklar, Distinguished Professor of History, State University of New York, Binghamton
"Sara Fitzgerald tells Peterson's story in this superb and timely biography. It carries a message that deserves the widest audience as the nation struggles to find needed consensus on critical issues amid poisonous political partisanship that has made it increasingly difficult for public officials to bridge their differences. I hope that every American reads it."
---Pulitzer Prize winner Haynes Johnson, from the Foreword
"To understand the quest for equal rights in America you really need to meet those women who were active at the time of transition. In this gripping biography we meet one woman who entered a male dominated world and triumphed."
---Francis X. Blouin Jr., Director, Bentley Historical Library
"Sara Fitzgerald's writing is as intelligent as it is entertaining."
---Best-selling novelist Diane Chamberlain
Elly Peterson was one of the highest ranking women in the Republican Party. In 1964 she ran for a Michigan seat in the U.S. Senate and became the first woman to serve as chair of the Michigan Republican Party. During the 1960s she grew disenchanted with the increasing conservatism of her party, united with other feminists to push for the Equal Rights Amendment and reproductive choice, battled Phyllis Schlafly to prevent her from gaining control of the National Federation of Republican Women, and became an independent.
Elly Peterson's story is a missing chapter in the political history of Michigan, as well as the United States. This new biography, written by Sara Fitzgerald (a Michigan native and former Washington Post editor), finally gives full credit to one of the first female political leaders in this country.
When Peterson resigned in 1970 as assistant chairman of the Republican National Committee, David Broder of the Washington Post wrote that "her abilities would have earned her the national chairmanship, were it not for the unwritten sex barrier both parties have erected around that job."
In the Name of the Father: The Rhetoric of the New Southern Baptist Conventionbegins with an analysis of the 1979 Southern Baptist Convention, the watershed convention where moderate forces fell before the powerful oratory of the ultraconservative faction, which has remained in power ever since. Communication professors Carl L. Kell and L. Raymond Camp investigate the rhetorical shift from moderate to ultraconservative in the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest denomination in the South and the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.
Drawing on sermons delivered at national conventions from 1979 to the present, Kell and Camp outline the discourses of fundamentalism, inerrancy, and exclusion. These discourses, the authors assert, point to the SBC leaders’ call for a return to times before feminism and tolerance of varying sexual orientations allegedly brought chaos to society and shook believers from their theological foundations.
A century and a half after the conclusion of the Civil War, the legacy of the Confederate States of America continues to influence national politics in profound ways. Drawing on magazines such as Southern Partisan and publications from the secessionist organization League of the South, as well as DixieNet and additional newsletters and websites, Neo-Confederacy probes the veneer of this movement to reveal goals far more extensive than a mere celebration of ancestry.
Incorporating groundbreaking essays on the Neo-Confederacy movement, this eye-opening work encompasses such topics as literature and music; the ethnic and cultural claims of white, Anglo-Celtic southerners; gender and sexuality; the origins and development of the movement and its tenets; and ultimately its nationalization into a far-reaching factor in reactionary conservative politics. The first book-length study of this powerful sociological phenomenon, Neo-Confederacy raises crucial questions about the mainstreaming of an ideology that, founded on notions of white supremacy, has made curiously strong inroads throughout the realms of sexist, homophobic, anti-immigrant, and often "orthodox" Christian populations that would otherwise have no affiliation with the regionality or heritage traditionally associated with Confederate history.
Neoconservatism has undergone a transformation that has made a clear identity almost impossible to capture. The Republican foreign policy operatives of the George W. Bush era seem far removed from the early liberal intellectuals who focused on domestic issues. Justin Vaïsse offers the first comprehensive history of neoconservatism, exploring the connections between a changing and multifaceted school of thought, a loose network of thinkers and activists, and American political life in turbulent times.In an insightful portrait of the neoconservatives and their impact on public life, Vaïsse frames the movement in three distinct ages: the New York intellectuals who reacted against the 1960s leftists; the “Scoop Jackson Democrats,” who tried to preserve a mix of hawkish anticommunism abroad and social progress at home but failed to recapture the soul of the Democratic Party; and the “Neocons” of the 1990s and 2000s, who are no longer either liberals or Democrats. He covers neglected figures of this history such as Pat Moynihan, Eugene Rostow, Lane Kirkland, and Bayard Rustin, and offers new historical insight into two largely overlooked organizations, the Coalition for a Democratic Majority and the Committee on the Present Danger. He illuminates core developments, including the split of liberalism in the 1960s, and the shifting relationship between partisan affiliation and foreign policy positions.Vaïsse gives neoconservatism its due as a complex movement and predicts it will remain an influential force in the American political landscape.
Since November’s election, conservative columnists have filled the op-ed pages with calls for a new conservative agenda. In The Next Conservatism, two of the conservative movement’s best-known thinkers, Paul M. Weyrich and William S. Lind, offer exactly that. More, they offer a new kind of conservative agenda, one that reaches far beyond politics to grapple with the sources of our nation’s cultural decay.
The Next Conservatism recognizes that culture is more powerful than politics. Nevertheless, it offers an engaging menu of political reforms, all under the rubric of “Restore the Republic!” No enthusiasts of Imperial America at home or abroad, Weyrich and Lind seek limited government, jealous guardianship of civil liberties, and a Washington liberated from the power of the New Class, the interests that feed off our nation’s decay. To these frequent conservative themes, Weyrich and Lind offer something new: a warning of a general crisis of legitimacy of the state itself, which can lead to a Hobbesian state of anarchy. How might we save the state while avoiding the jaws of Leviathan? The Next Conservatism offers innovative ways to thread that needle.
Meanwhile, what of America’s culture? Did its decay over the past half-century “just happen”? Weyrich and Lind argue no; rather, much of our degradation was deliberate, the work of the poisonous ideology of cultural Marxism, aka “Political Correctness.” The Next Conservatism takes the reader on a fascinating historical tour of the origins of Political Correctness in the infamous Frankfurt School, a gathering of heretical Marxists whose goal from the outset was the destruction of Western culture.
Weyrich and Lind then proceed to “deconstruct” the left’s program for America, debunking Feminism, “racism,” and environmentalism along the way. Reflecting the thought of Russell Kirk, The Next Conservatism condemns ideologies left and right, calling instead for a return to traditional ways of living, ways that reflect wisdom accumulated generation by generation. Only thus, they argue, can conservatives win a culture war many regard as hopelessly lost.
Old ways, in turn, lead to a Next Conservatism appropriate for hard times. Virtue, Weyrich and Lind offer, is to be found in modest living, not conspicuous consumption. The Next Conservative agenda rejects environmentalism but includes conservation, the return of the family farm, New Urbanism and the revival of such ‘oldies but goodies” as streetcars and passenger trains. A new theme, Retroculture, sums up a conservatism that recognizes that what worked in the past can work again today, and in the future as well. Our ancestors were no fools, the authors suggest, and “Back to the Future!” can serve as a powerful conservative rallying cry.
Having laid the political and cultural groundwork, The Next Conservatism then turns to conservative governance. In foreign policy, the authors call for minimizing foreign entanglements, though with a strong national defense and a military reform to adapt to face Fourth Generation warfare rather than the Second Generation America adheres to. For the economy, the authors call for repairing and expanding our national infrastructure, sound money, and protecting American industry, seeing labor as a potential ally. In both national security and economic security, the authors insist that good governance include moral security; drawing from the New Urbanism, they offer a “moral transect” that allows everyone to do what he wants, but not always where he wants. The public square, they suggest, should be safe for families.
Respecting the careful limits on government power a restored republic would embody, The Next Conservatism calls for redeeming America not through legislation but through a new conservative movement. Unlike the old movement, the next conservative movement would be a league of people who pledged to live their lives by the old rules. While conservatives would remain engaged in politics, they would rely on a vastly more powerful force of example, the examples of lives lived well in traditional ways. This next conservative movement would appeal far beyond the ranks of political conservatives, to all Americans who know that something has gone tragically wrong in the life of our nation.
The Next Conservatism offers a vision of vast sweep, far beyond anything coming out of Washington. At a time when most Americans find life growing more difficult, it proposes a path to a new America that is also the old America, the good, comfortable America we had and have lost.
Few question the “right turn” America took after 1966, when liberal political power began to wane. But if they did, No Right Turn suggests, they might discover that all was not really “right” with the conservative golden age. A provocative overview of a half century of American politics, the book takes a hard look at the counterrevolutionary dreams of liberalism’s enemies—to overturn people’s reliance on expanding government, reverse the moral and sexual revolutions, and win the Culture War—and finds them largely unfulfilled.David Courtwright deftly profiles celebrated and controversial figures, from Clare Boothe Luce, Barry Goldwater, and the Kennedy brothers to Jerry Falwell, David Stockman, and Lee Atwater. He shows us Richard Nixon’s keen talent for turning popular anxieties about morality and federal meddling to Republican advantage—and his inability to translate this advantage into reactionary policies. Corporate interests, boomer lifestyles, and the media weighed heavily against Nixon and his successors, who placated their base with high-profile attacks on crime, drugs, and welfare dependency. Meanwhile, religious conservatives floundered on abortion and school prayer, obscenity, gay rights, and legalized vices like gambling, and fiscal conservatives watched in dismay as the bills mounted.We see how President Reagan’s mélange of big government, strong defense, lower taxes, higher deficits, mass imprisonment, and patriotic symbolism proved an illusory form of conservatism. Ultimately, conservatives themselves rebelled against George W. Bush’s profligate brand of Reaganism. Courtwright’s account is both surprising and compelling, a bracing argument against some of our most cherished clichés about recent American history.
The idea that American education has been steered by progressive values is celebrated by liberals and deplored by conservatives, but both sides accept it as fact. Adam Laats shows that this widely held belief is simply wrong. Upending the standard narrative of American education as the product of courageous progressive reformers, he calls to center stage the conservative activists who decisively shaped America’s classrooms in the twentieth century. The Other School Reformers makes clear that, in the long march of American public education, progressive reform has more often been a beleaguered dream than an insuperable force.Laats takes an in-depth look at four landmark school battles: the 1925 Scopes Trial, the 1939 Rugg textbook controversy, the 1950 ouster of Pasadena Public Schools Superintendent Willard Goslin, and the 1974 Kanawha County school boycott. Focused on issues ranging from evolution to the role of religion in education to the correct interpretation of American history, these four highly publicized controversies forced conservatives to articulate their vision of public schooling—a vision that would keep traditional Protestant beliefs in America’s classrooms and push out subversive subjects like Darwinism, socialism, multiculturalism, and feminism. As Laats makes clear in case after case, activists such as Hiram Evans and Norma Gabler, Homer Chaillaux and Louise Padelford were fiercely committed to a view of the curriculum that inculcated love of country, reinforced traditional gender roles and family structures, allowed no alternatives to capitalism, and granted religion a central role in civic life.
Author of The Conservative Mind, Russell Kirk (1918–1994) was a principal architect of the American intellectual conservative movement. This book takes a closer look at his works on such subjects as law, history, economics, and statesmanship to introduce a new generation of readers to the depth and range of his thought.
Kirk probed the very meaning of conservatism for modern intellectuals, and in The Postmodern Imagination of Russell Kirk, Gerald Russello examines such key concepts of his thought as imagination, historical consciousness, the interplay between the individual and tradition, and the role of narrative in constructing individual and societal identity. By stressing the importance of Kirk’s perception of imagination, he offers a new approach to understanding him, showing not only that Kirk laid the groundwork for the “new conservatism” of the 1950s and ’60s, but also that his work evolved into a sophisticated critique of modernity paralleled in the work of some postmodern critics of liberalism.
In order to reconstruct Kirk’s attack on modernity, Russello examines his textbook on economics, his fiction, his work on Robert Taft and Orestes Brownson, his writings on the role of the statesman, and his neglected essays such as “The Age of Discussion” and “The Age of Sentiments.” Russello shows that Kirk welcomed the rise of some form of postmodernism, seeing in it a new opportunity for conservatism to engage the wider culture. Through this analysis, he situates Kirk within wider currents of contemporary thought, connecting him not only with such major thinkers as Lyotard, Boorstin, and Koestler but also with such lesser-known figures as Bernard Iddings Bell, Charles Baudouin, and Christopher Dawson.
By examining Kirk’s development of the imagination as a tool of conservative discourse, Russello offers an alternative genealogy for conservative thought that melds its antimodernism with postmodern themes. He has forged a lively and provocative work that provides unusual perspectives on Kirk within the wider context of debate over the future of conservatism in a time of shifting alliances—a book that will be a valuable resource for anyone seeking to understand Kirk or conservative thought.
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.
Outstanding Academic Title of 2008
Do you ever wonder why conservative pundits drop the word “faggot” or talk about killing and then Christianizing Muslims abroad? Do you wonder why the right’s spokespeople seem so confrontational, rude, and over-the-top recently? Does it seem strange that conservative books have such apocalyptic titles? Do you marvel at why conservative writers trumpeted the “rebel” qualities of George W. Bush just a few years back?
There is no doubt that the style of the political right today is tough, brash, and by many accounts, not very conservative sounding. After all, isn’t conservatism supposed to be about maintaining standards, upholding civility, and frowning upon rebellion? Historian Kevin Mattson explains the apparent contradictions of the party in this fresh examination of the postwar conservative mind. Examining a big cast of characters that includes William F. Buckley, Whittaker Chambers, Norman Podhoretz, Irving Kristol, Kevin Phillips, David Brooks, and others, Mattson shows how right-wing intellectuals have always, but in different ways, played to the populist and rowdy tendencies in America’s political culture. He boldly compares the conservative intellectual movement to the radical utopians among the New Left of the 1960s and he explains how conservatism has ingested central features of American culture, including a distrust of sophistication and intellectualism and a love of popular culture, sensation, shock, and celebrity.
Both a work of history and political criticism, Rebels All! shows how the conservative mind made itself appealing, but also points to its endemic problems. Mattson’s conclusion outlines how a recast liberalism should respond to the conservative ascendancy that has marked our politics for the last thirty years.
Not long ago, Republicans could take pride in their party’s tradition of environmental leadership. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the GOP helped to create the Environmental Protection Agency, extend the Clean Air Act, and protect endangered species. Today, as Republicans denounce climate change as a “hoax” and seek to dismantle the environmental regulatory state they worked to build, we are left to wonder: What happened?In The Republican Reversal, James Morton Turner and Andrew C. Isenberg show that the party’s transformation began in the late 1970s, with the emergence of a new alliance of pro-business, libertarian, and anti-federalist voters. This coalition came about through a concerted effort by politicians and business leaders, abetted by intellectuals and policy experts, to link the commercial interests of big corporate donors with states’-rights activism and Main Street regulatory distrust. Fiscal conservatives embraced cost-benefit analysis to counter earlier models of environmental policy making, and business tycoons funded think tanks to denounce federal environmental regulation as economically harmful, constitutionally suspect, and unchristian, thereby appealing to evangelical views of man’s God-given dominion of the Earth.As Turner and Isenberg make clear, the conservative abdication of environmental concern stands out as one of the most profound turnabouts in modern American political history, critical to our understanding of the GOP’s modern success. The Republican reversal on the environment is emblematic of an unwavering faith in the market, skepticism of scientific and technocratic elites, and belief in American exceptionalism that have become the party’s distinguishing characteristics.
With engaging wit and subtle irony, Albert Hirschman maps the diffuse and treacherous world of reactionary rhetoric in which conservative public figures, thinkers, and polemicists have been arguing against progressive agendas and reforms for the past two hundred years.Hirschman draws his examples from three successive waves of reactive thought that arose in response to the liberal ideas of the French Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man, to democratization and the drive toward universal suffrage in the nineteenth century, and to the welfare state in our own century. In each case he identifies three principal arguments invariably used: (1) the perversity thesis, whereby any action to improve some feature of the political, social, or economic order is alleged to result in the exact opposite of what was intended; (2) the futility thesis, which predicts that attempts at social transformation will produce no effects whatever—will simply be incapable of making a dent in the status quo; (3) the jeopardy thesis, holding that the cost of the proposed reform is unacceptable because it will endanger previous hard-won accomplishments. He illustrates these propositions by citing writers across the centuries from Alexis de Tocqueville to George Stigler, Herbert Spencer to Jay Forrester, Edmund Burke to Charles Murray. Finally, in a lightning turnabout, he shows that progressives are frequently apt to employ closely related rhetorical postures, which are as biased as their reactionary counterparts. For those who aspire to the genuine dialogue that characterizes a truly democratic society, Hirschman points out that both types of rhetoric function, in effect, as contraptions designed to make debate impossible. In the process, his book makes an original contribution to democratic thought.The Rhetoric of Reaction is a delightful handbook for all discussions of public affairs, the welfare state, and the history of social, economic, and political thought, whether conducted by ordinary citizens or academics.
Often considered a lost decade, a pause between the liberal Sixties and Reagan’s Eighties, the 1970s were indeed a watershed era when the forces of a conservative counter-revolution cohered. These years marked a significant moral and cultural turning point in which the conservative movement became the motive force driving politics for the ensuing three decades.Interpreting the movement as more than a backlash against the rampant liberalization of American culture, racial conflict, the Vietnam War, and Watergate, these provocative and innovative essays look below the surface, discovering the tectonic shifts that paved the way for Reagan’s America. They reveal strains at the heart of the liberal coalition, resulting from struggles over jobs, taxes, and neighborhood reconstruction, while also investigating how the deindustrialization of northern cities, the rise of the suburbs, and the migration of people and capital to the Sunbelt helped conservatism gain momentum in the twentieth century. They demonstrate how the forces of the right coalesced in the 1970s and became, through the efforts of grassroots activists and political elites, a movement to reshape American values and policies.A penetrating and provocative portrait of a critical decade in American history, Rightward Bound illuminates the seeds of both the successes and the failures of the conservative revolution. It helps us understand how, despite conservatism’s rise, persistent tensions remain today between its political power and the achievements of twentieth-century liberalism.
The cocreator of the Washington Post’s “Made by History” blog reveals how the rise of conservative talk radio gave us a Republican Party incapable of governing and paved the way for Donald Trump.America’s long road to the Trump presidency began on August 1, 1988, when, desperate for content to save AM radio, top media executives stumbled on a new format that would turn the political world upside down. They little imagined that in the coming years their brainchild would polarize the country and make it nearly impossible to govern. Rush Limbaugh, an enormously talented former disc jockey—opinionated, brash, and unapologetically conservative—pioneered a pathbreaking infotainment program that captured the hearts of an audience no media executive knew existed. Limbaugh’s listeners yearned for a champion to punch back against those maligning their values. Within a decade, this format would grow from fifty-nine stations to over one thousand, keeping millions of Americans company as they commuted, worked, and shouted back at their radios. The concept pioneered by Limbaugh was quickly copied by cable news and digital media.Radio hosts form a deep bond with their audience, which gives them enormous political power. Unlike elected representatives, however, they must entertain their audience or watch their ratings fall. Talk radio boosted the Republican agenda in the 1990s, but two decades later, escalation in the battle for the airwaves pushed hosts toward ever more conservative, outrageous, and hyperbolic content.Donald Trump borrowed conservative radio hosts’ playbook and gave Republican base voters the kind of pugnacious candidate they had been demanding for decades. By 2016, a political force no one intended to create had completely transformed American politics.
The Transformation of the Christian Right chronicles and analyzes the remarkable changes that have occurred in the Christian Right from its emergence in the late 1970s to the present. It documents the rapid turnover of Christian-Right organizations and explains the forces driving that kaleidoscopic change. Moen also traces the strategic shift of the movement’s leaders, away from lobbying the Congress and toward mobilizing conservative activists in the grass roots; he demonstrates the substitution of liberal language (with its emphasis on “equality, rights, and freedom”) for moralistic language (with its focus on “right and wrong”). Much has been written about the Christian Right’s impact on politics but little about how years of political activism have shaped and influenced the Christian Right. Moen addresses that neglected side of the issue.
Ever since the reelection of President Bush, conservative Christians have been stereotyped in the popular media: Bible-thumping militants and anti-intellectual zealots determined to impose their convictions on such matters as evolution, school prayer, pornography, abortion, and homosexuality on the rest of us. But conservative Christians are not as fanatical or intractable as many people think, nor are they necessarily the monolithic voting block or political base that kept Bush in power.
Andrew M. Greeley and Michael Hout's eye-opening book expertly conveys the complexity, variety, and sensibilities of conservative Christians, dispelling the myths that have long shrouded them in prejudice and political bias. For starters, Greeley and Hout reveal that class and income have trumped moral issues for these Americans more often than we realize: a dramatic majority of working-class and lower-class conservative Christians backed liberals such as Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton during their runs for president. And when it comes to abortion, most conservative Christians are not consistently pro-life in the absolute fashion usually assumed: they are still more likely to oppose the practice than other Americans, but 86 percent of them are willing to tolerate it to protect the health of the mother or when the woman has been raped, and 22 percent of them are even pro-choice.
What do conservative Christians really think about evolution, homosexuality, or even the meaning of the word of God? Answering these questions and more, The Truth about Conservative Christians will interest—and surprise—a broad range of readers, especially in this heated election year.
The definitive account of how conservative Southern Baptists came to dominate the nation's largest Protestant denomination
In 1979 a group of conservative members of the Southern Baptists Convention (SBC) initiated a campaign to reshape the denomination’s seminaries and organizations by installing new conservative leaders who made belief in the inerrancy of the Bible a condition of service. They succeeded. This book is a definitive account of that takeover.
Barry Hankins argues that the conservatives sought control of the SBC not or not only to secure the denomination's orthodoxy but to mobilize Southern Baptists for a war against secular culture. The best explanation of the beliefs and behavior of Southern Baptist conservatives, Hankins concludes, lies in their adoption of the culture war model of American society. Believing that "American culture has turned hostile to traditional forms of faith,” they sought to deploy the Southern Baptist Convention in a "full-scale culture war" against secularism in the United States. Hankins traces the roots of this movement to the ideas of such post-WWII northern evangelicals as Carl F. H. Henry and Francis Schaeffer. Henry and Schaeffer viewed America's secular culture as hostile to Christianity and called on evangelicals to develop a robust Christian opposition to secular culture. As the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, SBC positions on divisive cultural issues like abortion have remade the American political landscape, most notably in the reversal of Roe v. Wade.
Hankins also argues, however, that Southern Baptist conservatives sought more than orthodox adherence to Biblical inerrancy. They also sought an identity that was authentically Baptist and Southern. Hankin’s excellent and prescient work will fascinate readers interested in contemporary American religion, culture, and public policy, as well as in the American South.
Brennan details the actions and experiences of prominent anti-communists Jean Kerr McCarthy, Margaret Chase Smith, Freda Utley, Doloris Thauwald Bridges, Elizabeth Churchill Brown, and Phyllis Stewart Schlafly. She describes the Cold War context in which these women functioned and the ways in which women saw communism as a very real danger to domestic security and American families. Millions of women, Brennan notes, expanded their notions of household responsibilities to include the crusade against communism. From writing letters and hosting teas to publishing books and running for political office, they campaigned against communism and, incidentally, discovered the power they had to effect change through activism.
Brennan reveals how the willingness of these deeply conservative women to leave the domestic sphere and engage publicly in politics evinces the depth of America's postwar fear of communism. She further argues that these conservative, anti-communist women pushed the boundaries of traditional gender roles and challenged assumptions about women as political players by entering political life to publicly promote their ideals.Wives, Mothers, and the Red Menace offers a fascinating analysis of gender and politics at a critical point in American history. Brennan's work will instigate discussions among historians, political scientists, and scholars of women's studies.
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