tv Frances Fitzgerald The Evangelicals CSPAN October 9, 2017 10:10am-11:11am EDT
now there's kind of an assertion there is no expert. there's a fascinating denial of expertise at all and it becomes troubling and more of a difficult position to be in. >> bunked is the name of the book. it's coming out in november. kevin young is the author. thanks for joining us. >> thanks for having me. it's great to see you. >> each year since 1950, the national book foundation has selected what they considered to be the best books and poetry, young people's literature, fiction and nonfiction. the winners of the award will be announced on november 15 in new york city. beginning now on book tv, one of this year's finalists for
nonfiction, author frances fitzgerald discusses her history of evangelicalism in america. >> good evening. welcome to tonight's lecture. before we get started, you may have noticed a few cameras in the room. a couple rules, please turn off all of your devices and also, if you are to ask a question that question time, everyone has to come to the microphone. please do that appear interested in asking a question. this is, we are very excited
about tonight's program. it's a pleasure to welcome tonight's journalists and author frances fitzgerald. this is made possible through the generosity of the living foundation. born in new york city, she came of age as a journalist in the vietnam war era. in 1972 she published fire in the lake. the history of vietnam and the united states military involvement in that country. the book was awarded a pulitzer prize and a national book award. she authored numerous books and they've appeared in publications such as the new yorker, new york times magazine and "rolling stone". she discussed her most recent book the evangelicals. the struggle to shape america. she traces the history of protestant evangelism from the
awakenings of the 19th century to its current intersection of religious and clinical life. she also explores the future of the evangelical movement. the book has received critical acclaim for its detail and timeliness. the new york times book review said anyone curious about the state of american produc protestant will have it trusted god in this winter. we have only a clear minded overview of this religious sensibility. and fitzgerald has now provided it. we are very lucky to have doctor david gushy, professor of ethics and center of theology and leading pastor, speaker and activist.
in addition to that, he also in the book, i was pleased to find out his picture was in the book as well. we could not have a better question her tonight. please join me in welcoming frances fitzgerald and david. [applause] >> good evening. we would like to thank all of you for being here this evening and all who are watching via c-span. 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 and it scope, it covers everything you could possibly cover. it is 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 about 40 minutes, and then you all will have a chance in the audience to ask some questions yourself. i'll start up this way. welcome to atlanta. i'm sure you enjoyed our traffic this evening as you major way from the airport. our start off by asking you thi this, what motivated you to do a lot of research on evangelicals and to decide to devote so much attention to the evangelical community. >> let me preface this by saying the last time i met him, i was interviewing him and i'm not sure i like this change in role.
but at any case i began thinking a long time ago about how important evangelical was to american life and in particular to all kinds of things that i studied like textbooks and ronald reagan and by accident, in 1980, i was teaching in lynchburg virginia at the liberal arts college and there was a huge fundamentalist church next door you must go and see it. so i went and it was caldwell's church. as it happened he was just
starting the majority and so my editors who had 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 really at the time than about his community. i felt there were people who belong to the church who were perhaps as far away from my own sensibility than anyone i knew so i thought well, to try to understand this country you have to understand that. i did a few more pieces recently and it occurred to me that it was perfectly impossible to understand the
right without understanding the histories. a lot of the doctrine and ideology and points of view were perfect in the context of the 19th century, but it seemed completely insane to people today, like the apocalyptic prophecies and so on. i set myself this task. >> take the story of american evangelicalism back to the beginning in america, as you do in the book, can you just sketch, how does american evangelicalism begin or really take off? >> the first great awakening was started in the 1740s and began in the church of
jonathan edwards who was the most establishment kind of figure but one day when he was preaching, that sermon of his, the spider hanging over the shop the fire, apparently he didn't do that very much but he would always remind people to take risks. he would also have individuals come to christ and come to god. eventually this church became.
[inaudible] it turned out this was happening in other parts of the country. around the same time, this english creature came here and he went up and down the eastern seaboard and took a compelling presence and said he could attract a huge crowd. they moved it from state to state and he was the first of
the celebrity in the way that he brought the americans together before the revolutionary war. the next great awakening, and by the way, these were happening in europe, the same signs. that was a much larger and more emotional affair where methodists and baptists in particular when out and they were horseback riders and they went from town to town and
they would give these revivals then it would be tremendous excitement on the frontiers and the excitement sort of grew from town to town because everybody wanted to have this ecstatic experience that these creatures entertained and full of what one called bodily agitations, lasting and falling down and rising around and so forth. these creatures were very numerous and interesting in that they preached a very bible and immediate conversion and they were very democratic.
they were rebels against the established churches and hierarchies in virginia and new england and they would badly criticize the anglican establishment and one went so far as to say, i think this was john leland, there should be no clerical establishment at all, the relationship should be between the individual and god. this was a complete disruption, but on the other hand, i sort o of, the solution to a problem of
immigrant immigrants, they started the public school system in this country and indeed they were the first mass base for abolition. people always said lloyd garrison was responsible for this, but he was really 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. it was established by theater weld who is really the hero of the story. eventually evangelical became heart and soul as the country
spread west. >> it did. >> it becomes impossible to understand the development of our country without understanding the spread of evangelicalism across a dominant role in the heartland as well as big cities and everywhere. in the book you talk about what i consider to be a difference between southern and northern evangelicalism. can you read about that. >> the south was rather isolated at the time. it was a rural community at the time, very few towns much less big cities. the north was a good deal more , always, it always had catholics and jews and
intellectuals where's the south did not. the large denominations went apart on geographic lines. it didn't really heal for long after the civil war. the south developed its own religion. as the north became more diverse, ideas from europe and so on, and of course in the 1880s the arrival of darwinian evolution in the general
populace in the higher criticism of the bible with scholars and specialists, and that of course affected the clergy a good deal. a divide starts to open between liberals and conservatives and they start questioning the traditions of their churches as well as everything else. they do import new ideas from europe but so did the conservatives look for these apocalyptic prophecies who were simply all around the time, particularly in england after the french revolution that the world is going to hell and the apocalypse was
upon us. >> val ended up on a separate trajectory of development from the north and the north, by the 19th century was splitting apart by what known as fundamentalist and modernist moderates a little while later. a lot of people don't understand this, that the religious landscape, if you know anything about being protestant, what we know is our mainline denominations come from the liberal side of this and what we know about our evangelicals come from the conservative side. can you say little bit more about that trajectory and what some of the issues were that made it impossible to overcome. >> it really was the great split and products than that
brought us together. it happens solely with the two groups not talking to each other very much. just after the first world war when everyone was excited on all kinds of accounts the fundamentalist decided they could take over the presbyterian church and the baptist church and a fundamentalist actually began by meeting those who would do battle royal against modernist. this effort failed only really because there were a lot of people who wanted to keep the nominations together in order
to promote the missionaries and so forth. when this divide came it was a huge splintering and it was noticed in particular by the press at the scopes trial of 1925 which is a really important moment especially since howe was interpreted. you might remember the place where the great lawyer was humiliated williams jenning in a debate outside with thousands of people listening.
he humiliated him because brian was not a fundamentalist. he was anti- evolution and so on, but he also, he went back to the time before fundamentalist and really, he was a democrat in the populace as they rarely were and they hadn't paid much attention to this nitpicking of fundamentalist theology and interpretation of the bible. by nitpicking on his side, they overcame the knowledge of the bible and events and so
on. so the press went away from the same that this was in rural tennessee where this took place thinking that fundamentalists were a bunch of hex who were just eventually going to be runover by the powers, the fundamental creatures of the day were very educated men who preached in new york city and st. louis in these tall steeple churches in the no one saw. so instead of disappearing,
these fundamentalist pastors, powerful ones started creating their own systems in various part of the country, hundreds of churches, parts larger than nominations and this went completely unnoticed until after world war ii. the word evangelicalism gets retrieved after world war ii. who did that and why did they do it. >> i said it was billy graham and was in a popular way but it was also a lot of his friends and mentors.
graham and what became the national association of evangelicals wanted a national revival and they thought they could get it at the time because just after world war ii america became an extremely religious country. people were going home again and it's always a conservative time after wars. but also it was a bit of an anti-communist thing. people thought they were being true americans if they went to church, any church that eisenhower predator the matter what church you go to, but it builds character, virtue and so on. anyway, billy graham wanted to build this national revival and found that the fundamentalist turn to many people off. they were too bigoted, too narrow, too difficult and so
in turn he cut them off and called himself an evangelical and it meant some people were not angry at everybody and they had pretty much the same theology but sort of this watered down, calm down but it was a kinder, gentler fundamentalism. >> so billy graham gets a lot of attention in your book and probably most people have some memory of billy graham. how about billy graham hanging out with richard nixon. talk about that relationship and the beginning of a
politicalization of evangelicalism. >> billy graham liked powerful people. he always did. they were extremely helpful to him because they would make his revivals much easier to accomplish and they would get this shining glow around them and he would seem even more important than he was by having senate leaders, democrats and republicans alike. he became very attached to richard nixon long before nixon iran for president.
that was kind of his downfall because he became too close and he changed his views to nixon's views and started to defend the nixon administration so that when the vietnam war came to its terrible climax he was part of one of the people to be blamed for it. and later for watergate which he did not denounce early enough. >> as i read your book, i thought of billy graham as a foreshadow, he was foreshadowing what happens after him. he was one person, a larger-than-life figure but by the late 1970s, you have an entire organized movement to
make a marriage happen between conservative and fundamentalism and the republican party which we know is a christian right hand a lot of the figures that we saw back on tv, all of them larger-than-life characters, we talk about the birth of the christian right and kind of its trajectory. >> i think it was preceded by an upsurge of fundamentalism in the south. it was the second upsurge but it was the first upsurge in the south. it happened have virtually, as we all know that creates
cultural disruption, people who have evangelical beliefs find themselves backs to the wall, as it was and he finds himself under attack so he becomes fiercer. then the liberals find themselves under attack. what was different in this case is that they plan to make a mass movement and graham never did. he was content to have his own relationships with the powerful. this came up from the grassroot grassroots. you can't credit these
creatures with having totally novel ideas. there were all kinds of things that preceded it like these terrible textbook wars in west virginia, the upsurge of conservatism is a in southern california. issues began to appear, most of them having to do with theory at the novelties of the 1960s from feminism to the protest against the war to women dressing in blue jeans
and guys wearing their hair long. it all came out once it was huge in the sense that the issues were enormous and they were added to by the supreme court which had really, since the 1940s been trying to make the state a more neutral arbiter between various religious groups and nonreligious people. in all, it could've all happened at the same time but it was a delay because the real reaction came in 1980 opposed to the 1960s. at that point, with the help of operatives from washington d.c., they persuaded him to
structure it in a sophisticated way and in their view it should've included conservativ x-uppercase-letter. they were able to attract other fundamentalist. he didn't really succeed in creating this mass movement. on the other hand they made a big fuss and there are a lot of southern baptist around in this and they carried the south and why he paid so much attention to these folks. so, basically there came to be a merger of ideas, social
ideas between the republican party and the christian right. the democrats again were pushed left on all these issues which they wereefore and that's really great division in our politics begins, and remains. >> so the republican party ended up having it senator of gravity in the evangelical self, but who would you say that the better of this exchange when the clergy and the activists from the religious evangelical community engaged the politicians from the republican party. who wins? are they both gaining or are they being played by the politician. >> i think mostly politicians win. with very little legislation that the christian right ever
wanted passed by anyone, including george w. bush, they would make up to them and give them publicity and that's what they understood. in one speech, it would do more for his cause than a million speeches by other pastors. he went along with reagan on issues that were not at all moral or religious. for example, nuclear weapons policies and south africa and so on. he wanted to show the evangelicals could be part of the republican party and indeed they began, more as the
south turned republican for various reasons, actually some of the biggest bleeders in the south were southern baptist preachers who were ahead of other people interning the south republican. so that happens and gradually something like a third of the republican party's made up of evangelicals, read by the christian right so it's inevitably political and people, there's a lot of evangelicals that tried to get out of that and believed that only god was king and they
simply disappeared because the more political people pick up the air of the press and the media. what happened eventually was that a lot of liberals and people became disgusted by this and completely turned off and forgot they existed except at election time when they just hated them and knew nothing about them so that's where i came in. >> how did abortion become the central organizing issue, or do you agree that it became the central issue and how did
that happen. >> it's a fascinating story because evangelicals in the 60s and 70s were very much for therapeutic abortion's is what they were called and that met that abortion is fine in cases of incest or rape or harm to the mother. harm to the mother meant not only physical harm but psychological harm as well. that lesson, and an enormous gap of possibilities we can have an abortion and say otherwise i would've been too depressed for words and so on but evangelicals north and south didn't really prove this. the reason, at least a good part of the reason is that
abortion was a catholic issue. even into the 60s, evangelicals couldn't stand the catholics and thought of medieval tyranny that dictated everybody's way of thinking and policies and so forth. it took a long time for the christian right, to convince the laypeople that abortion is in fact murder as the catholic said it was. i would say that it wasn't until end of the 80s that
reasons and not just theological reasons for opposing abortion. antiabortion sentiment has grown over the years. the younger generation is very liberal on issues of homosexuality, but it is absolutely firm on abortion. >> and that issue isn't going away. >> it's not. >> probably what you're describing their is the broadening of a permanent left right split tied to religion so that it's not just protestant, it's catholic, mormon, jewish, whatever and so our politics has become tribal and it isn't really
changing. would you agree with that. >> i think that -- there is the god gap and that was people who are very religious, no matter what tradition they come from are always more republican than the left churchgoing, less pious and that tradition. it's true that this division started to cut through all of the denominations. >> 's and i can explain why 81% of white evangelicals voted for donald trump. we will get that answered here. do you ever thought about what that says about the landscape that you described in your book.
>> yes, it says quite a lot to me. first of all, during the primar primary, virtually all the christian right leaders, and are not half as powerful as they used to be came out for ted cruz and there was a big never trump faction amongst the pastors leading this and it turns out that there congregation or laypeople made some difference because they were the ones who voted for trump. there was a poll done by
evangelical polls and it was done before the last election in late october, early november and it asked people what issues were most important to them in voting and they noticed that evangelical pastors would answer personality of the candidate, religious freedom, the selection of supreme court justices, abortions on exactly what you'd imagine from sort of right-wing religious people. on the other hand, what's
important to them were economics and national security. complete differences so almost a complete loss of control, and also this is been shown for some time, evangelicals voted for mormon, that's not what they would've done if they were really keeping strictly to their religious, they voted for all kinds of people. because of what they thought that person would do for them, and they've virtually been disappointed, but not entirely
and they said you would've been entirely disappointed 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, rick perry, ben carson and even the attorney general, some of them are connected to the movement. he has in this cabinet, essentially half his cabinet now and he hasn't touched on
the major subjects of abortion or homosexuality yet but he certainly feeds them in many ways already. >> there so many more questions to ask but i want to give you all a chance to ask some of these questions so if you would like to ask a question, please come to the microphone. ask a question, don't make a statement, and ask a brief question otherwise bad things will happen to you, is my understanding. [laughter] brief questions for our our author. >> since the 1820s or 30s or so, has it been driven by person or ideology. >> i think both. i think in the face of some people they created the
ideal. dwight who is one of the great preachers of the mid- 19 centur century, he put all kinds of strands of doctrine together that he found in england and in the united states and he crisscrossed them and nobody noticed particularly because he was such a perfect american, he was also in the pay of heads of large corporations quite literally and his views of poverty, it shouldn't exist, didn't exist except for people who didn't work or didn't want
too. you can see he was a very powerful personality. it was his disciples who created the fundamentalist movement. >> there so many interesting profiles and the book. james dobson gets asked tense of treatment, how about jim and tammy faye. it's interesting and more that we can talk about this evening. >> you haven't said anything about the civil rights movement in the 60s and its effect in the south. >> that's quite right. i should have mentioned it at the start of all of the irritations that created the
ahead of the first baptist church. he had been a major segregationist and changed his tune. he began to talk about integrationist as left wingers and people who had to worry about called them cause i communist. >> always good to tie it to communism. >> yeah, and to see them as a part of the disruption of the 60s. it was as if they were like the kids on the campus were riding in the streets and these
parallels were made in people understood them very well without having ever to say it. >> there was one specific public policy fight where this got crystallized and that was segregationist schools in the south. >> quite so. in fact, that was what these new white operatives said was that the real reason for the rise of the christian right which was the us taxes regulation 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 this that 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 am kind of at a crossroads moment personally and i wanted to hear what your thoughts were on this. it seems like anytime there are these movements where you have this moment of impasse within the ranks there is a lot of time these splits. you think of martin luther and the feces and all of that and it feels like that to me in evangelicalism because why you have overwhelmingly voted for donald trump you also have this newish action of evangelicals who are still very conservative in many ways but not when it comes to issues of social justice or integration and things like that. do you think that i am just working my way out of evangelicalism or do you think that there is more of me that it feels very reformation he to me
where it feels like how can evangelicalism continue as a united movement went especially right now it feels like there is no way we can agree because the rut is so deep. >> that is a very good question and i have no answers as far as you are concerned. [laughter] it is true and we haven't mentioned it but the growth of social justice party within and among evangelicals. it is true that there is enormous splintering. i described one part of it between the christian right pastors and the laypeople but the other one is between social justice people and the so-called development issue people. >> there's a whole chapter on the new evangelical so you deftly want to get to that chapter. [laughter]
very important did i mention my picture is in the book? [laughter] the new evangelicals began to surface and they are always people like tony campolo and then a whole movement begins to develop especially in reaction to george w and around the obama years but then there is -- you have the old rights and your new evangelicals tend to be more social justice he then you have a third group who remain more conservative politically but they would definitely allergic to donald trump and many others. my suggestion would be there is no putting humpty dumpty back together again. the sections will not come together again. would you agree question. >> i thank you would know better than i about that. you see them more regularly every day and but it is not as
though there will be no evangelicals it's just that they will live apart. >> there is another group, the x evangelicals. their name is legion, many, many people who haven't been turned off by the whole thing, especially the christian right, has said this name doesn't work for me anymore, the trinity is not my community and i will go someplace different. >> yeah, well, that is very important and to some extent they find a lot of pictures too simplistic and they become catholics or somewhere where they can find a body of doctrine that pleases them. it use to be looking at the minister right in front of me. [laughter] -- evangelicals became mainline
and the top of the heat was the episcopalians for social reasons that was how you moved up in society. even when i visited jerry falwell's church the episcopalians for the top of the heap. the evangelicals have taken over our consciousness and i wonder if that period of it can continue or whether it will be like the rest of us. >> there are still an awful lot of main line protestants but they have been dwarfed inside by the evangelicals and influence. partly because the evangelicals have proven more effective in
working in the media in the last 40 years and so the mainline -- that must be at least 20% or maybe 15% of the american population still. >> yeah, and evangelical population is declining. it is declining just a small bit. it is declining for obvious reasons and people get more middle-class and have your children and so there are fewer baptisms. >> to the extent that evangelicals have a future there is a multiethnic multicultural nation and any of the religious movement that is unable to assimilate potable cultures it is hard to see how it has much of a future in the united stat states. we are just about out of time and so why don't we think frances fitzgerald for her excellent book.
[applause] i believe we now have a book signing. is there anything else you would like to say? >> i hope there 25% off. [laughter] >> thank you. [background noises] >> each year since 1950 the national book award is given out by the national book foundation, an organization sponsored by the publishing industry and literary institutions. authors in four categories, poetry, young people's literature, fiction, and nonfiction are presented with awards. past winners include david mccullough, joan gideon and
corbett all. this year's national book award will be announced on november 15 in new york city. one of this year's finalist for nonfiction is new yorker staff writer david grann who in his book killers of the flower moon reports on the murders of members of the osage indians station in oklahoma in the 1920s. his talk heirs next on the tv. [background noises] >> oh wow. good evening everyone. i'm katie, director of the leader services. welcome to the kansas city public library. thank you for your patience and flexibility. thank you rainy day books for setting records to