Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-viii

Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

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Introduction: More than Missionary: Doing the Histories of Religion and Sexuality Together

Gillian Frank, Bethany Moreton, and Heather R. White

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pp. 1-16

The lines seem so clearly drawn: A white evangelical minister stands in front of his California congregation on a Sunday morning. In one hand he holds a Bible. In the other is the text of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges extending civil marriage rights to same-sex couples throughout the country. “It’s time to choose,” he thunders to thousands of believers in the stadium-style worship center. “Will we follow the Word of God or the tyrannical dictates of government?” His declaration “This is who...

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Winnifred Wygal’s Flock: Same-Sex Desire and Christian Faith in the 1920s

Kathi Kern

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pp. 17-33

No one would mistake Winnifred Wygal (1884–1972), a career Young Women’s Christian Association worker, for a bohemian sex radical of the 1920s. Yet as the passage above suggests, the author and reformer forged an erotic life that challenged both the conventions of heterosexual “companionate marriage” and the concomitant emergence of homosexual “pathology” that characterized early twentieth-century domestic relations. Her perception...

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Subversive Spiritualities: Yoga’s Complex Role in the Narrative of Sex and Religion in the Twentieth-Century United States

Andrea R. Jain

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pp. 34-53

For most of the twentieth century, yoga advocates challenged the dominant U.S. social order when it came to sexual norms and their religious justifications. The twentieth-century United States provided rich soil for the re-creation of “exotic” Indian devotions into idiosyncratic forms of yoga, promoting modes of spirituality through which participants subverted mainstream cultural templates for sexuality. While the Protestant moral establishment sought to channel the new era’s innovations in contraception, companionate marriage,...

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Purity and Population: American Jews, Marriage, and Sexuality

Rebecca L. Davis

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pp. 54-70

Speaking before a gathering of Reform rabbis and Jewish educators in 1954, Rabbi Stanley R. Brav encouraged them to reimagine premarital counseling as an opportunity to demonstrate to young people the salience of religion— and the value of clergy—in their lives: “The premarital interview is a supreme occasion for establishing a lasting friendship between a young couple and a religious teacher who shows an intense concern for their welfare. . . . I’ve been impressed that I’ve come upon few teaching situations that are ever so...

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Sex Is Holy and Mysterious: The Vision of Early Twentieth-Century Catholic Sex Education Reformers

James P. McCartin

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pp. 71-89

“Parents insist that children brush their teeth, clean their nails, comb their hair and wash their hands,” lamented Catholic priest and high school instructor Matthew Michel in 1929. “Yet ever so many, even among modern mothers, cannot be brought to the point of relating to their children the simplest facts of sex.” Too many youngsters consequently suffered from “complete ignorance, even upon the threshold of marriage.” Worse still, too many more drew the full extent of their sexual knowledge from “the movies, the theatre...

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Real True Buds: Celibacy and Same-Sex Desire across the Color Line in Father Divine’s Peace Mission Movement

Judith Weisenfeld

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pp. 90-112

In February 1954, Ebony magazine featured a photograph of the African American religious leader known as Father Divine seated at a table in his Peace Mission Movement’s Philadelphia headquarters and surrounded by a group of black and white women who, the caption informed readers, were his “young, attractive secretaries.”1 The brief accompanying article outlined the movement’s theology, which centers on the belief that Father Divine was God in a body. The item’s main focus, however, was sexuality in this group in which...

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Sexual Diplomacy: U.S. Catholics’ Transnational Anti–Birth Control Activism in Postwar Japan

Aiko Takeuchi-Demirci

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pp. 113-132

In the years immediately following World War II, U.S. intellectuals and political leaders feared that an overpopulated Japan posed a racial and ideological threat to global stability. Attributing Japan’s military expansionism during World War II to its high fertility, U.S. officials and scholars in Occupied Japan considered population control—primarily through the use of contraceptives—as vital to Japan’s peaceful recovery and transformation into a democratized ally. As Cold War tensions intensified, they found it...

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Modernizing Decency: Citizens for Decent Literature and Covert Catholic Activism in Cold War America

Whitney Strub

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pp. 133-151

Citizens for Decent Literature (CDL) despised the influx of pornography washing over American society in the 1960s, but its leaders sought to be clear on one thing. “I don’t think I am a prude,” declared executive director Raymond Gauer at the group’s 1962 convention in Chicago; “I think sex is great!” Quickly he added, “But I think it’s being abused and I think it’s this abuse that should concern all decent people.”1...

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Family Planning Is a Christian Duty: Religion, Population Control, and the Pill in the 1960s

Samira K. Mehta

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pp. 152-169

When Alan Guttmacher, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, delivered the 1970 commencement address at Smith College, he closed with a clarion call: “I started this discourse like a historian; I conclude it like a preacher, not a preacher of religion, but a preacher of social behavior.”1 With this comparison, Guttmacher—a secular leader in the birth control movement—borrowed from the power of religious authority to underscore the moral implications of the choice to use birth control. Despite...

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From Women’s Rights to Religious Freedom: The Women’s League for Conservative Judaism and the Politics of Abortion, 1970–1982

Rachel Kranson

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pp. 170-192

While twenty-first-century opponents of reproductive rights have adopted the rhetoric of “religious freedom” to justify their refusal to provide medical coverage for contraceptives, an earlier generation of religious actors leveraged the guarantees of the First Amendment for quite opposite purposes. In 1982, for instance, the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, then the largest organization of religiously identified Jewish women in the United States, declared...

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Fascinating and Happy: Mormon Women, the LDS Church, and the Politics of Sexual Conservatism

Neil J. Young

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pp. 193-213

In the late 1960s, Jaquie Davison, an Arizona housewife who struggled to find happiness while raising her seven children, enrolled in a Fascinating Womanhood (FW) workshop at her Mormon church ward led by a fellow Latter-day Saint (LDS) woman, Helen Andelin. Andelin’s workshops, and her accompanying best-selling book, Fascinating Womanhood, offered LDS women the hope of finding personal fulfillment by accepting their divinely ordained roles and responsibilities, including embracing their sexual gifts as...

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The Making of Gay and Lesbian Rabbis in Reconstructionist Judaism, 1979–1992

Rebecca T. Alpert and Jacob J. Staub

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pp. 214-233

Since the mid-nineteenth century, most American Jewish leaders have been trained in seminaries and ordained as rabbis. A rabbi is a teacher, preacher, pastor, prayer leader, and interpreter of Jewish life and customs to both secular and other faith communities. Rabbis serve in a variety of institutional contexts but primarily in synagogues, schools, hospitals, and communal organizations. Rabbis were all men (with a few exceptions) until the 1970s. Today, excluding the Orthodox, half of American rabbis are women. The vast majority were (and...

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Founding New Sodom: Radical Gay Communalist Spirituality, 1973–1976

Daniel Rivers

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pp. 234-252

“I’m so tired of the city, of the gay treadmill, recyclable people and city trips.”1 This complaint, from a gay man writing from Berkeley, California, appeared in RFD, a magazine devoted to celebrating rural gay life.2 The focus of this criticism was the increasingly visible “gay urbanism” of the 1970s. In the early 1970s, distinct gay male neighborhoods developed, such as San Francisco’s Castro District, Greenwich Village in New York, and West Hollywood in Los Angeles, offering new opportunities for men to live in communities that...

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We Who Must Die Demand a Miracle: Christmas 1989 at the Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco

Lynne Gerber

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pp. 253-276

The first Christmas service at the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) of San Francisco (MCCSF) in 1989 was a candlelight service on Christmas Eve 1989. The Bay Area Reporter (BAR), San Francisco’s largest gay and lesbian newspaper, warned readers to arrive early to get good seats.1 The “pink and purple church on Eureka Street,” three blocks from the center of San Francisco’s famed gay neighborhood, the Castro, had a reputation for great music, great singing, and a progressive gay preacher. As on most Sundays...

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Afterword

John D’Emilio

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pp. 277-282

During a spring semester sabbatical in 2007, I spent a good chunk of time at the Gerber Hart Library in Chicago. As someone who had not done local community history before, I wanted to immerse myself in the materials of a city whose LGBT history had not yet received a great deal of attention. Working my way through the organizational newsletters and community-based newspapers produced in the 1970s, the first decade after the birth of a gay liberation movement, I was struck by how much content was related to religion....

Recommended Reading

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pp. 283-288

Contributors

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pp. 289-292

Index

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pp. 293-303