Red State Religion: Faith and Politics in America's Heartland

Red State Religion: Faith and Politics in America's Heartland

by Robert Wuthnow
Pub. Date:
Princeton University Press
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Red State Religion: Faith and Politics in America's Heartland

No state has voted Republican more consistently or widely or for longer than Kansas. To understand red state politics, Kansas is the place. It is also the place to understand red state religion. The Kansas board of education has repeatedly challenged the teaching of evolution, Kansas voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional ban on gay marriage, the state is a hotbed of antiabortion protest--and churches have been involved in all of these efforts. Yet in 1867 suffragist Lucy Stone could plausibly proclaim that, in the cause of universal suffrage, "Kansas leads the world!" How did Kansas go from being a progressive state to one of the most conservative?

In Red State Religion, Robert Wuthnow tells the story of religiously motivated political activism in Kansas from territorial days to the present. He examines how faith mixed with politics as both ordinary Kansans and leaders such as John Brown, Carrie Nation, William Allen White, and Dwight Eisenhower struggled over the pivotal issues of their times, from slavery and prohibition to populism and anticommunism. Beyond providing surprising new explanations of why Kansas became a conservative stronghold, the book sheds new light on the role of religion in red states across the Midwest and the United States. Contrary to recent influential accounts, Wuthnow argues that Kansas conservatism is largely pragmatic, not ideological, and that religion in the state has less to do with politics and contentious moral activism than with relationships between neighbors, friends, and fellow churchgoers.

This is an important book for anyone who wants to understand the role of religion in American political conservatism.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691150550
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 12/04/2011
Pages: 488
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Preface ix

Prologue 1

Murder at the Glenwood 10

1 Piety on the Plains 17

Abraham Lincoln in Kansas 18

Establishing a Civic Order 29

Public Religion

Serving the Community 42

Church Expansion 47

Cooperation and Competition 57

2 An Evolving Political Style 67

Prairie Politics 72

Populism and Religious Politics 79

Protesting against Inequality 90

A Divided Party 95

Law and Order 101

For the Children 104

3 Redefining the Heartland 110

Harvest of Progress 112

Consolidation and Expansion 117

Forward-looking Initiatives 124

Church and State 130

Hunkering Down 134

Fundamentalism and the Great Depression 142

Simian Peasants 152

Novel Movements 162

4 Quiet Conservatism 169

Grassroots Resentments 171

The Senator from Pendergast 183

Hometown Religion 187

I Like Ike 200

A Well-Qualified Catholic 208

5 An Era of Restructuring 215

Stirrings on the Right 217

From Desegregation to Black Power 229

Nixon at Kansas State 241

Division in the Churches 252

6 The Religious Right 267

Mobilization on the Right 269

Government Is the Problem 279

The War in Wichita 287

Shifting the Focus 294

Questioning Evolution 303

7 Continuing the Struggle 312

The Churches and Activist Networks 314

Electing George W. Bush 321

Regulating Abortion 326

The Campaign against Gay Marriage 330

Evolution Revisited 338

The Death of Dr. Tiller 347

Swatches of Purple 354

Epilogue 361

Notes 71

Selected Bibliography 45

Index 655

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