Rough Country: How Texas Became America’s Most Powerful Bible-Belt State

Phillip Bethancourt | August 5, 2015

“Everything in Texas is big,” Billy Graham once quipped in 1957. In Rough Country: How Texas Became America’s Most Powerful Bible-Belt State, Robert Wuthnow documents how everything is bigger in Texas, including its influence as America’s most powerful Bible-belt state. Filled with a variety of detailed historical accounts unearthed from a bevy of primary sources, Rough Country provides an important contribution to American religious history from Wuthnow, professor of social sciences at Princeton University.

Early settlers of the Lone Star State called the land “rough country” because of the toil required to make its soil sustainable and productive. In Rough Country, Wuthnow tracks the religious contours of Texas history to show how Texans also labored to cultivate the soil that fostered the civil religion of the Bible belt.

From Reconstruction to the Religious Right and beyond, Wuthnow traces the sociological intersection of religion, race, and politics to record the legacy of Texas’s influence on the Bible belt. Rough Country details how Texas provides “a rich context in which to observe the connections among religion, race, and politics” (372). While evangelicals will quibble at points with Wuthnow’s analysis of historical developments, his thorough storytelling offers an unbridled look into the religious history of the…

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