tv Frances Fitzgerald Discusses The Evangelicals CSPAN April 30, 2017 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT
reality in the modern age. more than 60 years later. the essence of the talk is a dad telling his son in blunt terms that some bad pleasing results in death for our black men and boys. be it intentional or intentional and unintentional. it's an unavoidable fact in our community. >> you can watch this and other programs online epic tv .org. [inaudible conversations] good evening. i'm sure bill hale president welcome to tonight's livingston lecture. before we get started i want -- you may have noticed a few cameras. please turn off all of your
devices and also if you're going to ask a question, everybody has to come to a microphone or they'll cut the entire session. please do that if you're interested in asking a question. were very excited about science program. it's a pleasure to welcome tonight's journalist and author francis ms. gerald. it's made possible from the generation of the livingston foundation. born in new york city and graduating from radcliffe college, she came of age as a journalist in the vietnam war era. in 1979 she published far in the lake, the vietnamese and american in vietnam. the history of vietnam in the united states military involvement in the country. the book was awarded a pulitzer prize, a bancroft prize and a national book award. she has since authored numerous critically acclaimed works of american history and works of the puritan publications in the new yorker, and rolling stone.
tonight fitzgerald will discuss her recent book "the evangelials" the struggle to shake america. she traces the history of protestant and evangelism from its beginning in the great awakening of the 18th and 19 th centuries to its current influence and intersection of religious and political life. she also explores the future of the evangelical movement in america undergoing significant graphic and cultural change. the book has received quite critical acclaim for its goal, detail and timeliness. the new york times book says anyone curious about the state of the conservative american product is him will have a trusted guide in this bancroft and pulitzer prize winner. we have long needed a fair-minded overview of this vitally important religious sensibility. fitzgerald has now provided it. tonight we are very lucky to have reverend doctor, christian
ethics and the center of theology and public life at mercy university. he wrote 22 bucks, speaker and activist. his present of this society's and fx and the american academy of religion. he was pleased to find out that his picture is in the book, as well [we cannot have a better questionnaire tonight. please join me in welcoming francis fitzgerald and peter david,. >> good evening. we like to thank you for being here this evening. all who are watching bsb sent to man. it is good to have such an opportunity to talk about, i think, as an evangelical myself the most important book on evangelicalism that has been written in a very long time.
it's majestic in its scope. it covers everything you possibly cover about evangelicalism. it 700 plus pages. it's the work of many decades of reporting and my happy task, this evening, is to get the ball rolling by asking as many questions as i can fit in in 40 minutes. then you all will have the chance in atlanta to ask questions yourself. start off this way. welcome to atlanta. i'm sure you enjoyed our traffic this evening as you made your way from the airport. i'll start off by asking, frankie, is that okay? frankie. what motivated you to do research on evangelicals and to decide to devote so much attention to the evangelical community? where were the entrance points for you?
>> let me preface this by saying the last time i met david, and i only met him once, i was interviewing him and i'm not sure that i like this change in role. [laughter] >> i'll push you hard on that frankie. >> in any case, i began thinking a long time ago about how important evangelical was to american life and in particular, the things i studied like textbooks, like ronald reagan, and by accident in 1980 i was teaching in lynchburg, virginia and a professor at this liberal
arts college said, you know, there's a huge fundamentalist church next door and you must go and see it. so i went. it was paul wells church. as it happened, he was just starting the morrow majority. my editors would never heard of him before said yes, okay, write a piece about him because he was starting to make news. i wrote less about him than about his community. i felt that there were people who belonged to the church were perhaps as far away from my own sensibility than anyone i knew. i thought, well, to try to understand this country you have to understand that.
i did a few more pieces on evangelicals, particularly, recently. eventually, it occurred to me that it was perfectly impossible to understand the evangelical rights without understanding its history. a lot of their doctrines, ideologies, points of view made perfect sense in the context of the 19th century but seems insane to people today. those apocalyptic prophecies and so on. i set myself to this test. >> take the story of american evangelicalism to the beginning in america.
can you just sketch, how does american evangelicalism begin? or really take off? >> the first great awakening started in the 1740s. it began in the church of jonathan edwards who was the most establishment figure. one day, he was preaching -- that sermon of his about the spider hanging over the fire and so on, the angry god, it's always quoted but he didn't do that very much. he would always remind people that he was a sinner indeed. he would also. [inaudible] for individuals to come to christ and to god.
eventually, this church became a boil with the sentiment. it turned out that this was happening in various other little parts of the country. around the same time, this english preacher who is actually an anglican profession came here and he preached up and down the eastern seaboard from city to city. he was such a compelling presence but that great actor david garrick said that he could attract a huge crowd just by pronouncing the word mesopotamia [laughter] it was whitefield who really
took over the first great awakening. he moved it from state to state. he was the first sort of inter- colonial celebrity and in a way he brought americans together before the revolutionary war. the next great awakening -- by the way, these were happening in europe as the same time, the same type of revivals. 1810, began when into the 1840s even and but that was a much larger and more emotional
affair where methodists and baptists, in particular, went out and the methodists were horseback riders and they went from town to town and they would give these revivals and it would be tremendous excitement on the frontiers. the excitements would move from town to town because everyone wanted to have this ecstatic experience that these preachers entertained. one called bodily agitation, laughing, falling down, riding around. these preachers were very numerous and interesting in that
they were preached a very simple bible and immediate conversion and they were very democratic in other ways. they were rebels against the established churches and the established social hierarchies in virginia and in new england. they would badly criticize the anglican establishment in virginia and the establishment in boston. one went so far as to say, i think this was john leyland, a baptist, there should be no clerical establishment at all. only the relationship that
should be between the relationship between the individual and god. this was a complete disruption but on the other hand, the solution to the problem of people leaving their families, leaving their communities and going away into the woods and starting afresh. not having those hierarchies to depend on anymore. they eventually established their own churches, methodist, baptist, presbyterian. for a time, it was a good moment then in the cities which -- last thing i'll say about this is that in new england, anyway,
they were real reformers. the evangelicals began programs for care for the indigent who were immigrants. they started the public school system in this country. indeed, they were the first math -based for abolitionist. people were always william lloyd garrison was responsible for this but he was too radical for the religious people and he was an anarchist and a feminist at the same time. that was going too far for them.
the mass base was established by charles finney and his converts, theodore wells. there the heroes of the story. >> essentially, evangelicalism became heart and soul of american religion as a country spread west. it becomes impossible to understand the development of our country without understanding the spread of evangelicalism and an increasingly dominant role in the heartland of america as well as the big cities and everywhere in the book you talk about what i consider to be a very fateful difference between southern and northern evangelicals. can you say a word about that? >> the south was a rather isolated at the time. it was a rural community, very few townsmen, much less big cities.
it was of course, plantations and slaveowners and so forth whereas the north was a good deal more cosmopolitan, always. it always had catholics and jews , intellectuals and of the sort the south did not. when there was this break between the two over slavery with the large denominations splitting apart on geographic lines, it didn't really heal for long after the civil war. the south began to develop its own kind of religion where as the north began to be more and more diverse. they had diverse ideas from europe and so on.
of course, in the 1880s the arrival of darwinian evolution into the general populace and the higher criticism of the bible were for scholars and specialists. that, of course, affected the clergy a good deal. so the divide starts to open between liberals and conservatives. the liberals start questioning the traditions of their churches as well as everything else. they do import new ideas from europe so that the conservatives who look to england for these
apartment apocalyptic prophecies that were simply all-around at the time, particularly in england after the french revolution that, you know, the world was going to hell. we apocalypse was upon us and various scenarios woven around this. >> banded the south ended up on a separate directory from the north and its religion. the north by the late 19, late 20th century was splitting apart what became known as fundamentalism and modernist, a little later. a lot of people don't understand this that really the religious landscape, if you know anything about the protestant religious limited, what we know as our main line denomination comes from the liberal side of the split, mainly. what we know of our evangelical and fundamentalist comes from the conservative site.
can you say more about that trajectory in what some of the issues were that made the wedge impossible to overcome? >> it really was the great split . it happened slowly with the two groups really not talking to each other very much. just after the first world war when everyone was excited on all account accounts, the fundamentalist decided that they could take over the presbyterian church in the baptist church. fundamentalist actually began by those who would do battle royale against the modernists.
this effort failed. it failed because there were a lot of people in both denominations who wanted to keep the dominations together in order to promote missionaries and so forth. and to do good in local quarters . when this divide came it was a huge splintering and the splintering was noticed, in particular, by the press. critically, the 1925 trial, a really important moment because of how it was interpreted. as you hear, remember, the place
where the great lawyer clarence darrow humiliated william jennings bryan in a debate outside with thousands of people listening. he humiliated him because brian was really not a fundamentalist. he was anti- evolution and so on but he also went back to the time before fundamentalism, really. he was a democrat and a populist and as they really were. he hadn't paid much attention to this sort of nitpicking fundamentalists theology, interpretations of the bible.
clarence darrow by nitpicking on his side overcame brian's knowledge of the bible and events and so on. the press went away from the sane that -- this was in rural tennessee, this place -- thinking that fundamentalists were a bunch of hicks, rural hicks that would eventually going to be run over by the powers of modern entity. in fact, the fundamentalist preachers of the day were very educated men who preached in new york city, st. louis, in these tall steepled churches and that,
no one saw. instead of disappearing, these fundamentalists pastors, powerful ones, started creating their own fiefdoms in various parts of the country, you know. hundreds of churches, their own denominations, parts of larger dominations and this went completely unnoticed until after world war ii. >> talk about that. the word evangelical gets retrieved after world war ii. who did that? why do they do that? >> i say in the book that it was billy graham. it was in the popular way but it
was also a lot of his friends and mentors like ogden gay and others. graham and ogden gay were what became the nationalist decision of evangelicals. they wanted a nationalist revival and they thought they could get it at the time because just after world war ii americans became an extremely religious country. people were going home again and it's always a conservative. after wars. but also, it was sort of an anti-communist thing. people thought they were being true americans they went to church, any church, said isaac heiser. doesn't matter what church you go to. it builds character, virtue and so on.
billy graham wanting to build this national revival found that the fundamentalist simply turn too many people off, they were too bigoted, and to narrow, too difficult. so, in turn, he cut them off and called himself an evangelical. he meant people who were not angry at everybody but who had pretty much the same theology but had calm down, watered down, if you want. it was a kind alert kinder, gentler, fundamentalism. >> so, billy graham gets a lot of attention in your book and most people in this audience who
are watching has some memory of billy graham, billy graham on tv , billy graham doing a revival how about billy graham doing hanging out with richard nixon. talk about that relationship and the beginning of a politicalization of evangelicalism and fundamentalism for that matter? >> billy graham liked powerful people. he always did. they were extremely helpful to him. they were rich and the powerful politicians because they would make his estate revivals much easier to accomplish. they would be with him and they would get the shining of graham around them. even more important than he was by having senate leaders demo oo
richard nixon long before nixon iran for president. that was his downfall because he became too close and changed his views to nixon's views, really. he started to defend the nixon administration so that when the vietnam war came to its terrible climax he was part of, of some of the people blamed for it. later, for watergate, he did not denounce early in. >> as i read your book, i
thought of really graham as a foreshadowing it's almost novelistic, he's a foreshadowing of what happens after him. he was one personal larger-than-life figure by the late 1970s you have an entire organized movement to make a marriage happened between conservative evangelicalism and fundamentalism and the republican party. which we know as the christian right. a lot of us saw back on the tv, pat robertson, dj kennedy, larger-than-life characters. talk about the birth of the christian right and its trajectory? >> i think it was preceded by an upsurge of fundamentalism in the south. it was the second upsurge and it was the first upsurge in the south.
it happened at virtually the same moment in industrialization and urbanization and the first one happened in the north. as we all know, that creates cultural disruptions of all kinds. people are coming into the city who have traditional evangelical beliefs. suddenly they found themselves back to the wall, as it were, and they found themselves under attack. then the liberals found themselves under attack and so forth. what was different from billy graham in this case was jerry falwell planned to make a mass movement and graham never did.
falwell, with the help of this new right operatives from washington, dc who had their own little consecutive pacs and so forth, persuaded him to create the moral majority, and to structure it in rather sophisticated ways, and in their view it should have included conservative catholics as well as everybody else, but falwell really was only able to attract some other fundamentalists, and so he didn't really succeed in creating this mass movement. on the other hand, it made a big fuss and there warlet of southern baptists -- were a lot of southern baptists around in this, and ronald reagan carried the south, which was for him the point, and why he paid so much
attention to these folks. so eventually there came to be a kind of merger of ideas between the -- social ideas when the republican party and the christian right, and the democrats're -- democrats were pushed left on all these where the want before, and that's where the great division in our politics begins. >> and remained. >> and remains. >> the republican party had the center of gravity in evangelical south, especially the midwest. who would you say got the better of the exchange when the clergy and the activists from the religious evangelical community engaged the politicians from the republican party, who wins? are both gaining or are the christians being played by the
politicians? >> i think mostly it's politicians win. there was very little legislation that the christian right wanted ever passed by anybody, including george w. bush. but they would make up to them and they would give them publicity, and that's what falwell understood, that in one speech of reagan's do more for his cause than million speeches by pastors and so he went along with reagan on issues that are were not at all moral or religious, for example, the nuclear weapons policies and star wars and south africa and so on. he wanted to show that
evangelicals could be a faithful part of the republican party, and indeed they began to vote more and more -- as the south turned republican for various reasons, but reasons that were -- actually some of the biggest leaders in the south were southern baptist preachers who were ahead of other people in turning the south republican. so, that happened. and then gradually something like a third of the republican party is made up of evangelical evangelicals. led by the christian right. so, it's inevitably politicized. everything is. and people -- there are a lot of evangelicals who detroit to get
out -- who tried to get out of that and do some -- believed that only god was king and they were -- they simply disappeared because the more political people took up the press and the media, and so what happened eventually was that a lot of liberals, a lot of people became kind of disgusted by this, and completely turned off and just forgot they existed except at election time when they just hated them, and knew nothing about them, and so that's where i came in to try to --
>> how did abortion become the central organizing issue or did you -- do you agree that it became the central organizing issue and how did that happen for the christian right? >> die. it's a fascinating story. evangelicals in the '60s and '70s were very much for therapeutic abortions, they were called and that meant abortion is fine in cases of insist or rape or harm to the mother. now, harm to the mother meant not only physical harm but psychological harm as well. so, that left an enormous gap of possibilities where you could have an abortion just saying,
otherwise i would have been just too depressed for words and so on. but evangelical north and south really approved this, and the reason -- or at least a good part of the reason that that abortion was a catholic issue, and even at that time -- i mean, really, into the '60s, evangelicals like maybe liberal protestants couldn't stand the catholics thought it was a medieval tyranny that dictated everybody's ways of thinking and policies and so forth. and so it took a long time for the christian right to -- only some of them -- to convince thunder peers and also the lay people that abortion was in fact
murder as the catholics said it was. i would say that it wasn't until -- under the '80s that evangelicals in any number began to believe this, and of course the two parties split apart on this as they had on the issues, and so the democrats being the pro choice people, became impossible to vote for. you can't vote for who is allowing murder, as simple as that. and evangelicals became more catholic than the catholics on abortion. why?
because it was a part of the -- what the understood is the whole is didn't operation of the family and disintegration of the family, and antiabortion sentiment is actually grown over the years. the younger generation today, the millenials generation, is very liberal on issues of hoax osexuality but it is absolutely firm on abortion. >> that issue isn't going away. >> it's not. >> partly what you're describing there is broadening of a permanent left-right split, tied to religion, so that it's not just protestant conservativism,
it's catholic conservatism, muslim, jewish, whatever, and so politics has become regio-tribal and it's not changing. >> i think that's except the last election. there's what john green, a greet sociology yeas called the god gap, and the god gap was people who are very religious no matter what tradition they come from, at least christian traditions, are always more republican than the less church going, less pious in that tradition. so, it's pub perfectly true that the division started to cut through all the denominations. >> now you can explain why 81% of white evangelicals voted for donald trump. we'll get that answered here this evening.
you talk about it, very briefly the end of your book. do you have a thought about what that says about the landscape you describe in your book. >> yes, it says quite a lot to me. first of all, during the primaries, virtually all the christian right leaders, such as they are today -- they're not half as powerful as thead the used to -- as theywide to be came out for ted cruz but there was a big enough trump faction among the pastors leading this, and -- but it turned out that their congregations or lay people in general, and perhaps the god gap business there --
made some difference because they were the ones who voted for trump, and there was a poll done by evangelical polling firm called -- forth about the name -- southern baptist. it was done before the last election, in late october, early november, and asked people what issues were most important to them in voting, and they noticed that evangelical pastors would answer, personality of the candidates, religious freedom, the selection of a supreme court justice, abortion, so on.
exactly what you imagine from right wing religious people, religious evangelicals. and the -- said what was important to them was economics and national security. a complete difference between would never meet, and so a complete loss of control, if you want, and also -- i mean, it's a great -- pragmatism that shows -- never been shown for some time. event gel -- evangelicals voted for a mormon, that's not what they would have done if they were really keeping strictly to their religious commitments. they've voted for all kinds of
people, and because've what they thought that the person would do for them, and they've mostly been disappointed but not entirely, and they certainly weren't entirely disappoint by george w. bush, and probably they won't be disappointed by donald trump either. if you notice that mike pence -- who else -- betsy devos -- even rick perry, ben carson, even the attorney general, they're not -- a lot of them are -- some of these people are definitely christian right. others are connected to the movement and had christian right
as their base of support. so, he has in his cabinet -- it's practically half his cabinet now, and he hasn't touched on the major subjects of abortion or homosexuality yet but certainly pleased them in many ways already. >> including the supreme court -- >> exactly. >> well, shall we -- there's so many more questions to ask. want to give you all the chance to did some of these questions and so if you would like to ask a question, please come to the microphone. ask a question, don't make a statement, please, and ask a brief question. otherwise, bad things will happen to you is my understanding. so a brief question for our author. yes, sir.
>> since the 1820s or '30s or so, has the movement been driven by personality or ideology? >> well, think beth. -- i think both. and in the case of some people, they created the ideology. dwight moody, one of the great preachers of the mid-19th mid-19th century, 1870s-80s. he put all kinds of strands of doctrine together, strands he had found in england and the united states, and he crisscrossed them and nobody noticed particularly because he was such a perfect american. he was also, must say in the pay of the heads of large corporations, and real request
quite literally, and his view about -- views of poverty were -- it didn't exist except that people didn't work, you know, didn't want to. but any case, you can see that he was very, very powerful personality, and it was his disciples who created the fundamentalist movement. >> so many interesting personalities you profile in the book. you have to read it. >> james dobson. how about jim and tammy fey? jumpy swagger. it's an interesting group, and more than we can talk about this evening. yes, ma'am. >> you haven't said anything about the civil rights movement in the '60s and its affect in the south.
>> that's quite right. i should have mentioned it. the start of all of the irritations of -- that created the christian right movement because even though people did not mention it at the time, falwell used -- had been a huge segregationist, as had many in the southern baptist convention, but that -- but race was not mentioned any longer by 1980. it was all about moral justice so on. but -- morality and so on, but underneath it was certainly about the civil rights movement. certainly about the disruption in their own view of the hierarchy of society and in --
their feeling that society whereas -- was becoming totally chaotic, and so people like criswell, the head of the first baptist church in houston? dallas. he had been a major segregationist and changed his tune, began to talk about integrationists as left-wingers, and people you had to worry about to the point of calling them communists. >> all good to tie it to communism. >> right. and part of -- to see them as part of this disruption, all of the disruption of the '60s, as
if they were like the kids on the campus who were rioting in the streets, and so these parallels were made and people understood them very well without if having to say it. >> there was one specific public policy fight where this got crystallized and that segregationist schools in the south especially. >> quite so. in fact that was what these new right operatives said, was the real reason for the rise of the christian right, which was the u.s. tax regulations on christian schools as well as other schools. they had to have -- to be desegregated to a certain extent
and it was the resistance to that horrible federal regulation that did it. >> i was raised in an evangelical church, and i have been to a few of them throughout my adulthood. i'm kind of at a crossroad moment personally and i wanted to hear what your thoughts were on this. it seems like anytime there's movements where you have this moment of impasse, within the ranks, there's a lot of times these splits, you think of martin luther and the -- and all of that. it feels like that to me in evangelicalism, because while you have people who overwhelmingly voted for donald trump you have the newest faction of evangelicals who are still very conservative in many ways but not when it comes to i issues of social justice and immigration. do you think that i am just
working my way out of evangelicalism or is there more of me that is feels very reformationy to me and how can evangelicalism continue as a united movement when especially right enough it feels like there's just no way we can agree because the rut is so deep. >> that's a very good question. i have no answer as far as you're concerned. you will see. but it's true and we haven't mentioned this, the growth of social justice party within -- among evangelicals and it's true there is a enormous splintering. i described one part of it between the christian right pastors and the lay people, but the other one is between social
justice people and the so-called below the belt issues people. >> there's a whole chapter on the new evangelicals and that's where i get mentioned so you definitely want to get to that chapter. very important. did i mention my picture is in the book? so the new evangelicals begin to surface. they're always -- -- a whole movement begins to develop especially in reaction to george w. and round the obama years, but then there's -- you have your old right and you have your new evangelicals that tend to be more social justicey and then you document a third group who remain more conservative plate include but -- politically but definitely allergic to donald trump. but there's no putting humpty
dumpty back together again. >> you'd know better than i would you see them more regularly every day, and i -- it's not as though there are going to be no evangelicals. just that they're going to live apart in their thinking. >> there's another group, too, the ex-evangelicals and their name is legion. many, many people who having been turned off by we the whole thing especially the christian right, saying this name does not work for me anymore, this community is not my community. i'm going someplace different. >> that's very important. and to some extent they find a lot of preachers too simplistic and they become catholics or somewhere where they can find a
body of doctrine that pleases them. it used to be -- i'm looking at this minister right in front of me. that evangelicals became mainline and the top of the heap what the epins -- episcopalians and that's for social reasons that how you moved up in society. when i visited falwell's church, the episcopalians were the top of the heap. but the event -- evangelicals have taken over our consciousness, and i wonder if that spirit of -- can continue or whether they will be like the rest of us.
>> there are still an awful -- awful lot of what you call mainline protestants but they have been influenced because the evangelicals have proven more effective in working the media in the last 40 years, and so the mainline -- must be at least 20% -- maybe 15% of the american population still? >> yeah. and event -- evangelical population is declining a small but but for obvious reasons, which is that people get more -- become more middle class, have fewer children, and so there are fewer baptisms. >> to the extent that evangelicalism is going to have a future, probably true of all religion in america -- ours is a multiethnic, multicultural nation, and any religious
movement that is unable to assimilate multiple cultures, how to see it has much of a future in the united states. >> you're right. >> we're just about out of time so why don't we thank frances fitzgerald for her excellent book. [applause] >> believe we now have a book signing. anything else you would like to say? >> books are 25% off. [inaudible discussion]
up next on word word word, john kashich discusses the 2016 presidential race and his outlook on the american future in this book: two paths, america unite order divided." he is interviewed by christine todd whitman. >> governor kashich, it's pleasure. i think the last time i saw waugh was in our barn when we were doing a fundraiser during the presidential campaign. >> guest: governor, you're just incredible person, and really a role model. you are a role m f