1st Edition

White Evangelicals and Right-Wing Populism How Did We Get Here?

By Marcia Pally Copyright 2022
    148 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    148 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    How did America’s white evangelicals, from often progressive history, come to right-wing populism? Addressing populism requires understanding how its historico-cultural roots ground present politics. How have the very qualities that contributed much to American vibrancy—an anti-authoritarian government-wariness and energetic community-building—turned, under conditions of distress, to defensive, us-them worldviews?

    Readers will gain an understanding of populism and of the socio-political and religious history from which populism draws its us-them policies and worldview. The book ponders the tragic cast of the white evangelical story: (i) the distorting effects of economic and way-of-life duress on the understanding of history and present circumstances and (ii) the tragedy of choosing us-them solutions to duress that won’t relieve it, leaving the duress in place. Readers will trace the trajectory from economic, status loss, and way-of-life duresses to solutions in populist, us-them binaries. They will explore the robust white evangelical contribution to civil society but also to racism, xenophobia, and sexism. White evangelicals not in the ranks of the right—their worldview and activism—are discussed in a final chapter.

    This book is valuable reading for students of political and social sciences as well as anyone interested in US politics.

    Introduction: Understanding Populism: A Historical, Cultural Approach

    Chapter One: A Rubric for Populism

    Chapter Two: America's Liberal Covenanted Republic: A short sketch

    Chapter Three: The American and Evangelical Duress

    Chapter Four: The Right-wing Populist Solution: Hunting Where the Ducks Are

    Chapter Five: Right-wing Populism and White Evangelicals:

    Chapter Six: The Militarization of God, Manhood, Politics: A Century in the Making

    Chapter Seven: White Evangelicals and Minorities: "God was the original segregationist"

    Chapter Eight: White Evangelicals Not in the Ranks of the Right

    Concluding Thoughts


    Marcia Pally teaches at New York University, USA, and held the Mercator Guest Professorship in the Theology Faculty at Humboldt University-Berlin, Germany, where she remains an annual guest professor.

    "Trumpism and evangelicalism might seem like strange bed fellows. But Pally shows it’s a match made in heaven. Far from a mere marriage of convenience, the confluence of right-wing populism and conservative evangelicalism is a matter of cultural and political affinities with deep roots in American history."--Philip Gorski, Frederick and Laura Goff Professor of Sociology and Religious Studies, Yale University

    "This accessible and compelling book reviews the contemporary relationship between white evangelicals and right-wing populism, showing the assemblage of ideas, concerns, and historical factors that brought this intersection into being. By setting this relationship in a broader historical context, Pally shows how this intersection is neither inevitable nor necessary." --Luke Bretherton, Robert E. Cushman Distinguished Professor of Moral & Political Theology, Duke University

    "An illuminating journey down the rabbit hole of white evangelical support for far-right authoritarian populism in the US. Pally combines rigorous scholarship with clear argument to show that all seemingly secular politics is theological in a certain guise. A realignment away from both liberal technocracy and demagogic populism will require a radical yet traditional religious revival." --Adrian Pabst, Professor of Politics at the University of Kent and author of Postliberal Politics.