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American Evangelicals and the 1960s

Edited by Axel R. Schäfer

Publication Year: 2013

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.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-2

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Introduction - Evangelicals and the Sixties: Revisiting the “Backlash”

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pp. 3-16

The 1960s constituted a seminal period of fragmentation and realignment for white evangelicalism in the United States, a time when the movement had emancipated itself from prewar fundamentalist militancy but had not yet coalesced into the New Christian Right. Nonetheless, the decade has received remarkably little attention from scholars of the evangelical resurgence. Instead...

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1. Back to the Future - Contemporary American Evangelicalism in Cultural and Historical Perspective

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pp. 17-36

On October 25, 1976, shortly before the election of Jimmy Carter, a selfproclaimed “born again” Christian, as president, Newsweek magazine proclaimed 1976 “The Year of the Evangelical.” The magazine’s gesture underscored a profound transformation underway in American religious life, summed up in the phrase “evangelical revival” or, in a more politically loaded term that would...

I. Talkin 'bout a Revolution? Evangelicals in 1960s Society and Culture

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2. Prairie Fire - The New Evangelicalism and the Politics of Oil, Money, and Moral Geography

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pp. 39-60

Canadians were in a festive mood in 1967 because of their country’s centennial, but locals celebrated in Fort McMurray, Alberta, for reasons all of their own. This year they heralded the opening of the Great Canadian Oil Sands (GCOS) plant. For three years, three thousand workers had labored round- the-clock, turning a $235 million investment into the “world’s first commercial venture"...

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3. A Revolutionary Mission - Young Evangelicals and the Language of the Sixties

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pp. 61-80

Historical accounts of the 1960s frequently place young people at the center of reform and opposition movements. Yet college- age evangelicals seldom occupy the central role in narratives about the civil rights movement, urban riots, the Vietnam War, student protests, and liberation movements. So it is surprising that in October 1967, Biola College purchased...

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4. The Persistence of Antiliberalism - Evangelicals and the Race Problem

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pp. 81-96

In Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America (2000), the sociologists Michael Emerson and Christian Smith offered a devastating in- house critique of the relationship between white evangelicalism and racial inequality in the United States. Only a few years earlier, the evangelical men’s group Promise Keepers had made racial reconciliation a major point of...

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5. Sex and the Evangelicals - Gender Issues, the Sexual Revolution, and Abortion in the 1960s

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pp. 97-118

Spirit- filled born- again Christians, Tim LaHaye wrote in 1969, had better sex than anyone else. They “enjoy the sublimities of physical union in marriage far more than people without Christ,” he said. Such advice, which the future Moral Majority board member and end- times prophecy writer peddled in Christian Life magazine and in a marital advice manual that he published...

II. Raging Against Leviathan? - Evangelicals and the Liberal State

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6. Attica, Watergate, and the Origin of Evangelical Prison Ministry, 1969–1975

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pp. 121-138

In January 1977, Charles Colson was at the annual convention of National Religious Broadcasters in Washington, D.C., watching from the wings as Billy Graham met with the press. Colson’s own news conference was due to begin as soon as Graham had finished. Colson listened as a Dutch broadcaster asked America’s most prominent evangelical preacher how recent reports of a national...

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7. Making Lemonade from Lemon Evangelicals, the Supreme Court, and the Constitutionality of School Aid

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pp. 139-159

In 1983, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) issued a policy statement on the issue of public funding for religious schools. 1 In it, the NAE argued that the additional financial burden on parents of paying for their children to attend a religious school amounted to double taxation, which, in turn, unfairly penalized those parents for exercising their First Amendment right to freedom

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8. The Great Society, Evangelicals, and the Public Funding of Religious Agencies

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pp. 160-188

One of the abiding enigmas of U.S. politics is that popular antistatism and ritualistic invocations of the “free market” have historically gone hand- in-hand with persistent calls for government subsidies. In his classic study of the American West, for example, Richard White has shown that, in contrast to many westerners’ vociferous denunciation of meddlesome federal bureaucrats...

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9. Tempered by the Fires of War - Vietnam and the Transformation of the Evangelical Worldview

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pp. 189-208

Few conflicts in American history have been as divisive as the Vietnam War. Even the most consensual and easily comprehensible foreign conflicts, such as World War II, have provoked dissent and opened up divisions. 1 But Americans argued more bitterly, and with more rancor, over Vietnam than they had over any other war before or since. The antiwar movement remains fixed in the...

III. Taking It to the Streets? New Perspectives on Evangelical Mobilization

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10. The Evangelical Left and the Move from Personal to Social Responsibility

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pp. 211-230

In 1947 the theologian Carl F. H. Henry published The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism. This seminal tract of the “new evangelicalism” decried the obscurantism of his fundamentalist religious heritage. Modernity, Henry began, was replete with social evils, among them “aggressive warfare, racial hatred and intolerance, liquor traffic, and exploitation of labor or management...

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11. “The Harvest Is Ripe” - American Evangelicals in European Missions, 1950–1980

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pp. 231-254

In 1974, more than a thousand evangelical Christians met in Lausanne, Switzerland, to talk about their main mission to the world. They came from all the corners of the world with great expectation, stimulated by Billy Graham’s opening address confirming this optimism: “The Harvest is Ripe.”1 At the conclusion of the meeting the participants left for home re- energized. They...

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12. “A Saga of Sacrilege” - Evangelicals Respond to the Second Vatican Council

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pp. 255-280

On the morning of October 11, 1962, millions of viewers around the world turned their televisions to the live coverage of the Second Vatican Council’s opening assembly. An hour- long procession of twenty- five hundred council fathers, draped in all- white vestments with matching white miters on their heads, snaked across the grand square of the Vatican and into the soaring...


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pp. 281-284


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pp. 285-292

Further Reading

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pp. 304-305

E-ISBN-13: 9780299293635
E-ISBN-10: 0299293637
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299293642
Print-ISBN-10: 0299293645

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 6 b/w illus.
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 867740667
MUSE Marc Record: Download for American Evangelicals and the 1960s

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Subject Headings

  • Evangelicalism -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Christianity and politics -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Nineteen sixties.
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