December 25, 2010


How Billy Graham Brought Us the Tea Party: And lo, there were Pentecostals in Southern California. (Tim Murphy, 12/24/10, Mother Jones)

Just before Christmas, George W. Bush traveled to North Carolina to pay a visit to the one man who, perhaps more than any other, made his political ascent possible: Billy Graham. But the aging evangelist's contributions go far beyond simply helping 43 sober up and find Christ on a beach in Kennebunkport. As a charismatic young preacher in the post-war era, Graham galvanized southern evangelicals who had migrated to the Golden State. Socially conservative, business-friendly, a new political brew fermented in the cul-de-sacs of Southern California. The results: Yesterday's religious right, today's tea party, and the Reagan and Bush presidencies.

Historian Darren Dochuk explains the 50-year process in his new book, From Bible Belt to Sun Belt. Mother Jones spoke with Dochuk recently about Sarah Palin, the tea party, and the next Billy Graham. [...]

MJ: One of Graham's ideas from the late 60s, which you occasionally hear today, is the idea of socially conservative blacks and conservative whites voting as a bloc. But instead you get the Southern Strategy. Were people like Graham serious?

DD: In the 60s, in response to Watts, I do think Billy Graham and other evangelicals were sensitive to racial issues. And I think they were naive. And ultimately they were incapable of offering any structural critique of racism. But at the same time they demonstrated some flexibility and an ability to cross racial barriers and create a colorblind coalition.

As many of us sang last night:
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His Gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His Name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy Name!
Christ is the Lord! O praise His name forever!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!
His pow’r and glory evermore proclaim!

On the other hand, the ideology of the Bright among us proclaims:
I could show fight on natural selection having done and doing more for
the progress of civilization than you seem inclined to admit. Remember
what risk the nations of Europe ran, not so many centuries ago of being
overwhelmed by the Turks, and how ridiculous such an idea now is! The
more civilised so-called Caucasian races have beaten the Turkish hollow
in the struggle for existence. Looking to the world at no very distant
date, what an endless number of the lower races will have been
eliminated by the higher civilized races throughout the world.
Charles Darwin in a Letter to W. Graham July 3rd, 1881


At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the
civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace,
the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the
anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no
doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will
then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised
state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a
baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the
Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1882)

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Posted by Orrin Judd at December 25, 2010 8:58 AM
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