Carl McIntire, the American Council of Christian Churches, and the Politics of Protestant Fundamentalism
thesisposted on 21.06.2016, 00:00 authored by Wayne A. Ratzlaff
This dissertation explores the intersection between religious belief and public action among Protestant fundamentalists associated with the American Council of Christian Churches (ACCC) during the middle decades of the twentieth century. The central figure in this study is Bible Presbyterian minister Carl McIntire, who was one of the nation’s most prominent fundamentalist preachers during that period. He played a paramount role in organizing the ACCC in 1941 as a vehicle for Protestant fundamentalists to challenge public policies that privileged the theologically liberal Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America. During the Cold War, McIntire and other fundamentalists in the ACCC broadened their scope of public action as outspoken crusaders against Soviet communism. By the 1960s, many members of this group had aligned themselves with the emerging grassroots conservative movement and subsequently became cultural warriors in an attempt to arrest the nation’s moral decline amid the decade’s social upheavals. As the principal spokesperson for the ACCC, McIntire articulated a messianic political theology of Christian Americanism that sanctified the nation’s political and cultural heritage. During the 1960s he attracted considerable attention for the right-wing jeremiads he delivered on his daily syndicated radio program. McIntire, together with his co-religionists, ultimately helped to polarize the nation’s religious landscape by disseminating a political theology that was anti-liberal and anti-statist. I argue that the ideology of Christian Americanism promoted by this fundamentalist group and its methods of grassroots protest provided the intellectual framework and models for public action that militant evangelicals adopted during the culture wars of the late twentieth century.