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God’s Businessmen

Entrepreneurial Evangelicals in Depression and War

The evangelical embrace of conservatism is a familiar feature of the contemporary political landscape. What’s less well-known, however, is that the connection predates the Reagan revolution, going all the way back to the Depression and World War II. Evangelical businessmen at the time were quite active in opposing the New Deal—on both theological and economic grounds—and in doing so claimed a place alongside other conservatives in the public sphere. Like previous generations of devout laymen, they self-consciously merged their religious and business lives, financing and organizing evangelical causes with the kind of visionary pragmatism that they practiced in the boardroom.

In God’s Businessmen, Sarah Ruth Hammond explores not only these men’s personal trajectories but also those of the service clubs and other institutions that, like them, believed that businessmen were God’s instrument for the Christianization of the world. Hammond presents a capacious portrait of the relationship between the evangelical business community and the New Deal—and in doing so makes important contributions to American religious history, business history, and the history of the American state.

240 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2017

Economics and Business: Economics--History

History: American History

Religion: American Religions

Reviews

“Hammond ably demonstrates that “between their shoe leather and their pocketbooks, they and other businessmen made revivalism happen,” as the New Deal turned regulation, taxes, and unions into religious issues in their eyes. Highly recommended.”

Choice

“Hammond's argument for the lasting influence of “God's businessmen” becomes more and more convincing as the reader recognizes one evangelical initiative after another as a given of contemporary American life.”

The Hedgehog Review

“A fascinating study of faith, finances, and the nature of American political life that will be of interest to historians of Christianity and scholars whose work mines the symbiotic relationship between economic practice and religious activism.”

Reading Religion

“Hammond argues that the tendency of historians to concentrate on the role of theologians and clergy within American evangelicalism has obscured the importance of lay businessmen in shaping evangelicalism’s engagement with American culture, economy, and politics. The evidence Hammond marshals here, combined with the other recent work mentioned above, makes her claim all but indisputable.”

Journal of Markets & Morality

“Well-researched and well-argued, God’s Businessmen builds well on the recent literature on the intersection of religion, business, and politics and advances the field in important new directions. Equally well-written, it will appeal not just to interested academics but to educated general audiences as well. It is, in short, a triumph.”

Kevin M. Kruse, author of One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America

God’s Businessmen adjusts our view of twentieth-century evangelicalism, helping move the story toward lay leaders and away from just the preachers and evangelists. Moreover, the book complements other recent scholarship in showing how naturally and easily conservative and mainline Protestantism became wedded to conservative economics and politics.”

Barry G. Hankins, author of Woodrow Wilson: Ruling Elder, Spiritual President

Table of Contents

Editorial Note
Acknowledgments
List of Abbreviations

Introduction
Depression
1. R. G. LeTourneau’s Prosperity Gospel
2. Herbert J. Taylor, Rotarian Fundamentalist
3. Corporate Christianity’s Civil Activism
War
4. The Wartime Vision of Laymen’s Evangelism
5. The Wartime Consolidation of Laymen’s Evangelism
Conclusion

Notes
Index
 

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