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Title page for ETD etd-11202012-102226


Type of Document Dissertation
Author Jackson, Patrick Daniel
URN etd-11202012-102226
Title Lost: American Evangelicals in the Public Square, 1925-1955
Degree PhD
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Gary Gerstle Committee Chair
Dennis Dickerson Committee Member
James Hudnut-Beumler Committee Member
Sarah Igo Committee Member
Keywords
  • neo-evangelicalism
  • fundamentalism
  • religion and politics
  • National Association of Evangelicals
  • Prayer Breakfast
Date of Defense 2012-08-17
Availability unrestricted
Abstract
This dissertation challenges a widely held piece of conventional historical wisdom: that conservative, white, evangelical Protestants stopped participating in American politics after achieving notoriety during the Fundamentalist-Modernist controversy of the 1920s, and that this loss of interest marked a decisive, decades-long evangelical retreat from the public sphere. The power of this argument has meant that evangelicals have often been seen as curious truants from the national political scene immediately following a period when – as H. L. Mencken famously quipped – one could “heave an egg out of a Pullman window and…hit a fundamentalist almost anywhere in the United States.” I argue instead that scholars have been simply unable to see them; with the help of a trio of concepts first suggested by the Italian political theorist Antonio Gramsci – cultural hegemony, the war of maneuver, and the war of position – I try to keep them in view. In the first chapter, I explore the cultural and intellectual revolution that called evangelical fundamentalism into existence. In the second chapter I survey the political and popular culture of the 1930s – looking particularly at what one scholar has called the “Old Christian Right” and at the early country music industry – for evidence of fundamentalism's disappearance before suggesting another way to think about that most unconventional of decades. In the third chapter, I point out an obvious example of continued fundamentalist interest in American politics in the 1930s and 1940s, the National Committee for Christian Leadership – sponsor of the annual Congressional Prayer Breakfast. In the fourth chapter, I consider fundamentalist attempts to win back some of the intellectual respectability they had once enjoyed by examining the work of fundamentalist scholars like J. Gresham Machen, Cornelius Van Til, Gordon Clark, and Carl Henry within the context of the history of American higher education in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Finally, in the fifth chapter, I examine the National Association of Evangelicals' efforts to abandon the censoriousness of the earlier movement and then rebrand itself an organization of all-American Cold Warriors.

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