The Biblical Case for Organized Labor

Today’s guest post is from Heath W. Carter. He is an assistant professor of history at Valparaiso University and the author of Union Made: Working People and the Rise of Social Christianity in Chicago (Oxford, 2015). These are the worst of times for organized labor, which during the post-World War II decades – the heyday of middle [Read More…]

The Ex-Baptist Pastor Who Popularized Ben Franklin’s Electrical Experiments

James Delbourgo’s A Most Amazing Scene of Wonders: Electricity and Enlightenment in Early America offers a remarkable account of Ebenezer Kinnersley, a Baptist pastor who lost his Philadelphia church position due to his opposition to the Great Awakening. Kinnersley then improbably became the greatest popularizer of Ben Franklin’s discoveries in electricity. Kinnersley was born in Gloucester, England, [Read More…]

How to Write an Excellent Statement of Purpose for Graduate Applications

Fall is the time for students to put together their applications for graduate school. Many of these applications require an enigmatic-sounding “statement of purpose.” With due regard for differences between disciplines, here are the top three mistakes in statements of purpose by graduate applicants: 1) Failing to be specific enough. “I am interested in the [Read More…]

Graduate Course Readings in Early American Religion

I’m gearing up for the start of classes, so here’s another edition of my readings for the semester. This fall at Baylor I am teaching an introductory American history survey, and a history graduate course (doctoral and master’s students) on early American religion. What am I trying to do with the list of readings for the [Read More…]

The “Evangelicals” Who Support Donald Trump

There has been much hand-wringing in recent weeks about the persistent support of Donald Trump among “evangelicals.” Why in the world would so many Christians support a rude and crude candidate like Trump, whose pro-life credentials seem obligatory at best, and who specializes in vilifying Hispanics? If we are to believe the polls, the American [Read More…]

Teaching Salem Witchcraft

One of the most provocative topics in the American History survey class is the Salem witchcraft trials. Although it was a great tragedy, the episode lends itself to wonderful discussions about historical interpretation. As Emerson Baker’s recent book A Storm of Witchcraft points out, the past four decades have seen a huge expansion of the literature on [Read More…]

How Far Mike Huckabee Has Fallen

Over at the Washington Post’s Acts of Faith blog, I have a piece on the strange decline of Mike Huckabee as a Republican presidential aspirant. I really liked Huckabee in 2008, but it has pretty much been all downhill from there. Supporting David Barton, getting his Fox News gig, and now playing the “Nazi card” on the [Read More…]

Reports of Evangelicalism’s Demise Are Overblown

This article is part of the Patheos Public Square on the Future of Faith in America: Evangelicalism. Read other perspectives here. Devout and secular Americans alike have been heralding the decline of traditional faith since the time of the Puritans, but American religion always confounds reports of its demise. The crumbling of evangelical Christianity, in particular, is a [Read More…]

Professors and the New Public Sphere

I have been reading Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations. This remarkable book came out in 2008 but had already pegged the significance of social media in uncanny ways. The cost of communicating quickly with large numbers of people has collapsed because of e-mail, blogs, and platforms like Twitter. This has [Read More…]

What Are The Most “Important” Topics in American History?

I recently spoke at the annual conference of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, as part of a panel on “What in American history is most important for teachers to pass on to our students?” The audience was largely from private Christian schools, including administrators and history teachers. I found the exercise quite challenging [Read More…]


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