The American Colonies
Had varieties of religious establishment
These colonies "tolerated" Roman Catholicism
A place where religion was extremely important and where religion ruled some aspects of
A discourse about American religious history. At least 3 histories of great awakening
First: we get Congregationalists and Baptists (Baptists are not a single group); early 18th
Second: Mormons (church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints); based in Utah (early 19th
century); seventh-day Adventists
Third: end of 19th century: a bunch of groups arising not just in the US but other places:
Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentecostal, Fundamentalists (a type of protestant Christianity)
Nothing new about the importance of religion in American society; important part of social and
Religion constantly generates movements
What forms does religion take in the US? They take form in organized denominations; religion
from below (not elite movements trying to impose themselves on society).
RELIGION AND THE POLITICAL SYSTEM
Formal political relationship between religion and politics written into formal documents from
American constitution-people writing it had trouble deciding whether it was adequate and if they
should change it.
Came up with amendments-but what do these mean exactly? Should think about what people
have decided they should mean.
1st amendment- religious rights
2nd amendment- right to bear arms
There is a notion that we live in a secular society, but we don't
Formation of the US- came forth by people who came here because they didn't want people
telling them what they should do in terms of religion.
Woven into the constitution: cultural concern of keeping the government under control; we don't
the government regulating religion, in fact we want them to regulate as little as possible.
FROM 1ST TO 2ND DISESTABLISHMENT
No establishment in the US, but there is a Protestant dominance
Out of all of the presidents in the US, not counting the "deists", only one president has not been
The form that religion tends to take in the US are denominational and congregational; this form
comes as "churches"
Religious pluralism is overwhelmingly Christian, mainly Protestant. Only exceptions are Jews
and Mormons (if they are not considered Christian)
Morals: not having any is seen as being the root of a lot of problems. Must find a way to instill
greater morals into people's lives. Consumption of alcohol was considered a very big problem; rudimentary. If that problem
could be solved, thing could go in a better direction.
Sexual immorality: prostitution is considered to be a moral problem
Two Protestant Responses (I)
Both elite responses
The new Christianity; Liberal response
o Social gospel movement
The job of Christians to deal with the problems of society using their religious
resources. IE, feed the hungry but attempted to reform people's religious morals
Women are responsible for the good morals of their family. This is what they're
good at, so they need a vote in order to have that kind of moral input into
Strong connection between women's vote and the prohibition of alcohol
o Ecumenical, cooperative Christianity
Tolerant Christianity; comparatively tolerant from Catholicism and Judaism, but
The bible, higher criticism
Much time spent on looking at and re-analyzing the bible
o Political implications
Gets involved in politics and wants Congress to pass certain laws
Prohibition of alcohol: a moral problem. If this moral problem is solved,
then many of society's other problems will be solved.
Alcohol is also and social and economic issue
The more liberal party is the Republican party; this change happens at the
beginning of the 20th century
Protestant Response (II)
Peculiar group; reaction against the "new Christianity"
o Distinction between Christians who have pre-milleniarist characteristics and post-
Pre-millenariasm: When Jesus comes, which will be before the millennium, the
world will have ended. Things will get much, much worse then Jesus will come.
Accentuate the religious: get everything ready
Post-millenariasm: In order for Jesus to come, we have to try harder and Jesus
will want to come when world is a better place.
Accentuate the political: we must work for a better place.
45% of Christians in the US believe that Jesus will come back in their lifetime
Fundamentalists will from time to time get involved in politics then retreat.
There is a wave effect.
o Idea: the way to make the world better is to change one part at a time
o In a particular context, where is the religious and where is the political?
o Takes the form of a revival movement; has recent political implications
The revival (later 20th century) from early on was looking for ways to
evangelize and get the word out Some of the earlier group of people to get involved in radio broadcasting
Published books: trying to convert everybody in print form; 12 little books
with 90 articles which were called "The Fundamentals" (hence where the
name of this wave of Christianity came from)
Literal interpretation of the bible: bible means exactly what it says
and is easy to understand so read it. (it's in english)
Disagree with Darwin as what he says contradicts what the
bible says; Darwinism is part of the problem
Claim to take a pre-millenarian stance
A real christian had no real need for government because
people will do the right thing morally
There are people who do need government, but that
government should not be imposed on christians, who will do
the right thing without government
As a christian, moral behavior will come forth on its own as you're
personal moral life is disciplined.
Politicized Fundamentalism in the Early 20th century
The First World War Context
o The US did not get involved in the war until 1918; fairly influental in the outcome
Their philosophy at this point was not to get involved in other people's business
o Liberals and fundamentalists had different attitudes before the US entered the war
After, both sides were pro going into WWI.
The Fundamentalist Analysis of the War
o The enemy (Germany) is depraved
2 sysmptoms: tendency to start war and a country where criticism of the bible
Modernism leads to militarism and cultural decline, which is why the
germans are these bad people who started the war.
The US is the new chosen land and Americans are the new chosen people
Have a providential (will of God) mission to fix all the problems of
A popular analysis
The war puts the fundamentalists into a mainstream position as opposed to being
marginalized by society
Prohibition and Darwinism
Prohibition occurs at the same time that the Americans get into the world war
Fundamentalists at the centre of this
o Congress prohibits everything but the consumption of alcohol
Volstead act: required an amendenment: 18th amendment (adoption), 21st
1933: the context had changed and alcohol is no longer prohibited
The other premier fundamentalist issue o
1921-1929: 33 laws passed in 20 states that prohibit teaching Darwinism in any
schools, especially elementary schools
o 1925: scopes hired specifically to teach evolution and get arrested to challenge the
Gets tried in Tennessee
Prosecution: William Jennings Bryan
Defense: Clarence Darrow
Fundamentalists win the trail, but it was a disaster for public relations
Mass media called the fundamentalists all kinds of nasty names
o Prohibition and Darwinism are symbolic issues; are about how the world and politics
ought to work.
From Great Depression to Cold War Period
o Seat change where conservative dimension of Protestantism goes from a high point
into a period where they retreat into a sectarian world
The 1940s and the "new evangelicals"
o Conservative protestants who are not fundamentalists
Form the national association of evangelicals
o Billy Graham: an important evangelical leader who was not a politician
Not a direct political influence but the kind of guy who gets invited to the
The paradigmatic poistion of communism
o Begins from the middle of 19th century
o Communism becomes reality with the Bolshevik Revolution
A lot of people outside of Russia: becomes the representation of everything that
is bad and evil in the world.
o Anti-communism becomes a part of the menu of America since the first world war
o Socialism: milder form of communism
Fascist positions are also quite popular
o Becomes especially important during the Cold War Era
American hegemony and superpower status
McCarthyism: non-elite protest movement. Country is being taken over by commies
and we must stop this
Was this a fundamentalist movement? From some views, yes, from other views
not so much.
o Syllogism in the fundamentalist sector
Liberalism is roughly equal to socialism=the new deal= communism.
The Rise of the New Christian Right
Jerry Falwell: self-identified fundamentalist
"The enemy": people against enterprise systems, ie the communists.
The American Context of the post 1960s period
The post war period from 1945-1963
o After the 2nd world war, we get regularly scheduled air travel around the world The "growing tide": social movements of the 1960s and 1970s
o Movements of the new generation. Has certain kinds of characteristics, and this is
where morality comes in.
1960s a key period because it is the height of the rise of the civil rights movement:
African Americans asserting their rights. There's an amount of success during this
time and it is very much present.
o Symbolic issues
Roe vs Wade, 1973: Decision by the Supreme Court that permitted abortion
The equal rights amendment, 1972+: left wing against it because of what that
would mean for the imposition of affirmative action, which would make the
Became an issue to the new Christian right
The oil crisis of 1973
Major oil producing countries, particularly in the middle east got together and formed
o They created an embargo
o Embargo didn't last long but it set off a chain of events that caused an economic
o Stagflation: when there is no stagnation nor inflation
Vietnam: The first "lost" war (1975)
Problematic experience for a lot of Americans; defeat
o What happened, whose fault is it?
1979 as a paradigmatic year
o Nicaragua: communist revolution
Communist revolutionaries have a bunch of catholic priests involved and they
become members of the cabinet
o Afghanistan is invaded by the soviet union
Still living with the effects
o Poland: movement against the comm