Religion of Fear: The Politics of Horror in Conservative Evangelicalism

Religion of Fear: The Politics of Horror in Conservative Evangelicalism

by Jason C Bivins
Pub. Date:
Oxford University Press, USA


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Religion of Fear: The Politics of Horror in Conservative Evangelicalism

Conservative evangelicalism has transformed American politics, disseminating a sometimes fearful message not just through conventional channels, but through subcultures and alternate modes of communication. Within this world is a "Religion of Fear," a critical impulse that dramatizes cultural and political conflicts and issues in frightening ways that serve to contrast "orthodox" behaviors and beliefs with those linked to darkness, fear, and demonology. Jason Bivins offers close examinations of several popular evangelical cultural creations including the Left Behind novels, church-sponsored Halloween "Hell Houses," sensational comic books, especially those disseminated by Jack Chick, and anti-rock and -rap rhetoric and censorship. Bivins depicts these fascinating and often troubling phenomena in vivid (sometimes lurid) detail and shows how they seek to shape evangelical cultural identity.

As the "Religion of Fear" has developed since the 1960s, Bivins sees its message moving from a place of relative marginality to one of prominence. What does it say about American public life that such ideas of fearful religion and violent politics have become normalized? Addressing this question, Bivins establishes links and resonances between the cultural politics of evangelical pop, the activism of the New Christian Right, and the political exhaustion facing American democracy.

Religion of Fear is a significant contribution to our understanding of the new shapes of political religion in the United States, of American evangelicalism, of the relation of religion and the media, and the link between religious pop culture and politics.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195340815
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 08/29/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

"Scary Jesus": Locating the "Religion of Fear" in Conservative Evangelicalism     3
"A Common Thrill": Evangelicalism and the Culture of Fear     23
"Jesus Was Not a Weak Fairy": Chick Tracts and the Visual Culture of Evangelical Fear     41
"Runnin' with the Devil": Conservative Evangelical Fear and Popular Music     89
"Shake 'Em to Wake 'Em": Hell Houses and the Conservative Evangelical Theater of Horror     129
"Already Decided and Carrying a Weapon!" The Political Terrors of Being Left Behind     169
"Like Beating the Dog": Fear, Religion, and American Democracy     213
Notes     237
Bibliography     283
Index     303

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