The University of Wisconsin Press

U.S. History / Religion / Politics

American Evangelicals and the 1960s
Edited by Axel R. Schäfer

Studies in American Thought and Culture
Paul S. Boyer, Series Editor

“A rich and provocative reinterpretation of American evangelicalism in the decades after World War II. These essays upset conventional wisdom about the ways that American evangelicals responded to the American civil rights movement, the sexual revolution, the Vietnam War, and the Great Society.”
—John G. Turner, author of Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ

In the late 1970s, the New Christian Right emerged as a formidable political force, boldly announcing itself as a unified movement representing the views of a “moral majority.” But that movement did not spring fully formed from its predecessors. American Evangelicals and the 1960s refutes the thesis that evangelical politics were a purely inflammatory backlash against the cultural and political upheaval of the decade.

Bringing together fresh research and innovative interpretations, this book demonstrates that evangelicals actually participated in broader American developments during “the long 1960s,” that the evangelical constituency was more diverse than often noted, and that the notion of right-wing evangelical politics as a backlash was a later creation serving the interests of both Republican-conservative alliances and their critics. Evangelicalism’s involvement with—rather than its reaction against—the main social movements, public policy initiatives, and cultural transformations of the 1960s proved significant in its 1970s political ascendance. Twelve essays that range thematically from the oil industry to prison ministry and from American counterculture to the Second Vatican Council depict modern evangelicalism both as a religious movement with its own internal dynamics and as one fully integrated into general American history.

Axel R. Schäfer is director of the David Bruce Centre for American Studies at Keele University in the United Kingdom. He is author of Countercultural Conservatives: American Evangelicalism from the Postwar Revival to the New Christian Right and of Piety and Public Funding: Evangelicals and the State in Modern America.


“This volume makes a substantial contribution to understanding the diversity of American evangelicalism, which, as Schafer notes and his contributors demonstrate, is endlessly complex.”
—Laura Gifford, Journal of American History

“The book aptly moves conversations surrounding modern evangelism beyond generalities, and encourages more thoughtful considerations of what religious conservatives were actually thinking and doing during America's great decade of social transformation.”
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Of Related Interest:
The cover of Countercultural Conservative is a collage of two images of Christian evangelicals.Countercultural Conservatives
American Evangelicalism from the Postwar Revival to the New Christian Right
Axel R. Schäfer

Carefully examining evangelicalism’s internal dynamics, fissures, and coalitions, this book offers an intriguing reinterpretation of the most important development in American religion and politics since World War II.


August 2013
LC: 2012037153 BR
280 pp.   6 x 9   6 b/w illus.

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Paper $29.95 S
ISBN 978-0-299-29364-2
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“A particularly effective effort to enlighten the general public, problematize stereotypes, and deepen understanding. It makes a substantial contribution to both religious and sociopolitical history.”
—Mark Noll, co-editor of Religion and American Politics

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Updated December 29, 2012

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