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Main Street Jesus: Small-City Revivalism, Chautauqua, and the Birth of Religious Conservatism, 1880–1930

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This dissertation is a history of religious conservatism between 1880 and the onset of the Great Depression in 1929. Its main argument is that conservative religion in America, rather than being defined by fundamentalism, theological disputes, or cultural antipathy towards pluralism, was an outgrowth of a profound faith in capitalism and individual competition. Conservatives firm belief that everyone could "get ahead" in the United States led them to profoundly distrust poverty and social work as government interference in the natural, sanctified order of salvation and damnation. By the 1910s, this culture evolved into a political movement set against reform, government regulation, immigration, and liberalism, creating the context of the culture wars that would continue to shape and dictate American religious and political contexts for the next century.

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