He was a proud member of the Ku Klux Klan, telling Meet the Press that same year that “[n]o man can leave the Klan. Once a Ku Klux, always a Ku Klux.” During a filibuster of an anti-lynching bill, Bilbo claimed that the bill will open the floodgates of hell in the South. As early as 1867, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld segregated railway cars on the grounds that “[t]he natural law which forbids [racial intermarriage] and that social amalgamation which leads to a corruption of races, is as clearly divine as that which imparted to [the races] different natures.” This same rationale was later adopted by state supreme courts in Alabama, Indiana and Virginia to justify bans on interracial marriage, and by justices in Kentucky to support residential segregation and segregated colleges. Allen Candler defended unequal public schooling for African Americans on the grounds that “God made them negroes and we cannot by education make them white folks.” After the Supreme Court ordered public schools integrated in , many segregationists cited their own faith as justification for official racism.
Raping, mobbing, lynching, race riots, and crime will be increased a thousandfold; and upon your garments and the garments of those who are responsible for the passage of the measure will be the blood of the raped and outraged daughters of Dixie, as well as the blood of the perpetrators of these crimes that the red-blooded Anglo-Saxon White Southern men will not tolerate., Bilbo wrote that “[p]urity of race is a gift of God . Ross Barnett won Mississippi’s governorship in a landslide in 1960 after claiming that “the good Lord was the original segregationist.” Senator Harry Byrd of Virginia relied on passages from Genesis, Leviticus and Matthew when he spoke out against the civil rights law banning employment discrimination and whites-only lunch counters on the Senate floor.
The major theme running through Griffith’s history of the culture wars is that Christianity is not, despite much commentary to the contrary, the eternal ally of patriarchal authority.
She bolsters her argument with insightful biographical sketches of several activists who are largely forgotten today, but whose impact on the nation’s statute books seems undeniable.
She tells the story of Howard Moody, a Baptist minister based in Greenwich Village who launched the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion after a shocking firsthand encounter with the shadowy world of underground abortions.
By the late 1960s, the group had chapters in multiple states and more than 2,000 clergy were aiding its efforts to steer desperate women to qualified abortion providers.
In 1975, it amended this policy to permit unmarried African American students, but it continued to prohibit interracial dating, interracial marriage, or even being “affiliated with any group or organization which holds as one of its goals or advocates interracial marriage.” As a result, the Internal Revenue Service revoked Bob Jones’ tax-exempt status.
One year before , allowing people with religious objections to opt out of Social Security could undermine the viability of the entire program. Moreover, a comprehensive national social security system providing for voluntary participation would be almost a contradiction in terms and difficult, if not impossible, to administer.” Just as importantly, allowing religious employers to exempt themselves from the law would be fundamentally unfair to the employees who are supposed to benefit from those laws.Two new books, both by respected historians of religion, map the resulting fissures and document their profound impact on American culture and public policy. Marie Griffith’s examines the work of religious activists on both sides of the major flash points, from the Jazz Age birth control debate to the more recent clashes over workplace sexual harassment and same-sex marriage.