From the Bible Belt to the Sun Belt – Plain Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism - Darren Dochuk; 2011; W.W. Norton; New York 409 Pgs.
Dochuk, Asst. Prof of History; Purdue, has written a detailed study of the Evangelical Xtian movement in So. Calif. Beginning with the immigration of peoples from the Western South at the end of the depression and during WWII to find employment in the southern Calif. Defense industries through the first election of Ronald Reagan, Dochuk traces the creation of this movement from its beginning as an effort to build communities that kept the traditions of the Western South pertinent to their new communities, through these peoples efforts to save the US from Communism, and unfamiliar cultural values. Dochuk while extensively covering the role of the clergymen and businessmen who strongly influenced this movement never ignores the role of the common person in the development and expansion of the evangelical/fundamentalist movement both internally and on the stage of national politics.
: . “collective witness” was in this sense, a quest for organic community among those who yearned for the neighborliness of the small town South. Over time, however, as local congregations grew in size and confidence “collective witness” came to mean no-hold-barred proselytization of the “unsaved.” Pg. 24
The Legacy of clerical power in the western South set the stage. In Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas the preacher assumed a prestige that placed him at the center of public life. Novelist and minister’s son Erskine Caldwell once wrote that a clergyman in the Deep South “was frequently called upon to act as a social worker, a marriage counselor, a financial advisor, an arbitrator between feuding families, a psychiatric consultant, and as a judge to decide what was and what was not moral conduct.” Pg. 29
Prior to WWII, most clerics in the predominantly Protestant South had not seen a reason to identify with the pessimistic, countercultural, crisis (premillenialist – GRH) theology. Amid the turmoil of the post-war years, however, this system began to make better sense. Yet even as they adopted it they altered it. Once a complex doctrine that encouraged intellectualizing. McGee and his cohort helped turn it into an impetus form local activism, cultural engagement and American global engagement. Pg. 157-8
Banowsky readily admitted, “but, in my judgment, what really keeps such a coalition from occurring is not . . . the stupidity of the ordinary people, but rather the elitism of the patricians. Pg. 356
If you are interested in recent US cultural or political history you will find this book interesting. For this I would give it a B+.
If you are politically active trying influence society. A solid A.