How Evangelicals Turned from a Born-Again Christian to a Divorced Hollywood Actor

Many evangelicals became deeply disillusioned with Carter’s presidency. The sharp decline in ticket-splitting from 1976 to 1980—that is, voting for Carter at the top of the ticket and then for Republicans elsewhere on their ballots—suggested that support for Carter in 1976 was in fact an anomaly rooted in evangelical identity. What happened between 1976 and [Read More…]

J.C. Can Save America

Ted Cruz marshals a rhetoric of Christian America in his campaign for president. Christians should “take back” or “reclaim” America, he says, from secularist liberals who have led the nation from its Christian origins. This vocabulary echoes that of his discredited adviser David Barton. His own father Rafael Cruz preaches a dominionist theology and suggests [Read More…]

Was Missionary Work Liberating for Women?

It depended. “Multiple freedoms and multiple opportunities reinforced each other,” writes historian Jane Smith in The Gospel of Gentility, “and [female missionaries] described themselves as “fulfilled,” “found,” and “happy.” “My face is so red and rosy I look like I had had an over dose of paint,” wrote Jessie Ankeny after arriving in Fukien. “I [Read More…]

Southern Baptists: Cooperative Autonomy?

In my first outing as an official representative of Hannibal-LaGrange University, I have spent the past few days at the Greater Columbus (Ohio) Convention Center attending the Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention.  In the past, controversy stalked each meeting as Southern Baptists both fought internecine battles and made unpopular public proclamations addressing cultural [Read More…]

Beyond Playboy: The Inner Life of Jimmy Carter

In 1976 Playboy magazine conducted its infamous interview of Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter. The interview nearly cost Carter the election. Secular pundits mocked his confession of “adultery in my heart.” Conservative Christians not only disagreed with his use of the word screw but objected that Carter would grant the salacious magazine an interview in [Read More…]

Lone Star Religion

Review of Robert Wuthnow, Rough Country: How Texas Became America’s Most Powerful Bible-Belt State (Princeton University Press, 2014). I grew up in Texas in the 1970s and 1980s. During my childhood, Texas was a purple state. Both major parties represented us in the Senate, and the governorship oscillated between Democrats and Republicans. Things have changed quite [Read More…]

The Promises and Perils of Denominational History

Today’s guest post is by Nathan A. Finn, who serves as associate professor of historical theology and Baptist studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also directs the Center for Spiritual Formation and Evangelical Spirituality. You can follow him on Twitter​. Near the end of my time in college, I was a history major who knew I [Read More…]

A Primer on the Southern Baptist Convention, Part 2

From the Archive In light of the upcoming annual meeting of the largest (for now) Protestant denominations taking place in Baltimore, MD next week, it seemed appropriate to re-run my two-part series from last summer, “A Primer on the Southern Baptist Convention.”  This is the second part.  The first part ran Wednesday, June 4th.  Relevant updates and emendations [Read More…]

A Primer on the Southern Baptist Convention, Part 1

From the Archive In light of the upcoming annual meeting of the largest (for now) Protestant denominations taking place in Baltimore, MD next week, it seemed appropriate to re-run my two-part series from last summer, “A Primer on the Southern Baptist Convention.”  The first part will run today, the second will run on Saturday, June 7th.  Relevant updates [Read More…]

What Can Stop Southern Baptist Decline?

In anticipation of the 2014 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, the SBC’s LifeWay Christian Resources issued its annual report on church statistics, and for the seventh straight year, the SBC’s overall membership declined. (Here’s my coverage of the 2013 report and annual meeting for WORLD Magazine.) The University of North Carolina’s Molly Worthen, [Read More…]