The Founding Father of the Religious Right

| January 20, 2016

In fall 2013, Mark Driscoll made headlines when he parked a hearse in front of an old Seattle church to promote his book A Call to Resurgence, which declared the death of Christianity in the United States. Little did he know he’d taken a page from the annals of fundamentalism.

In 1967, Carl McIntire made a similar declaration, with a hearse, in his book The Death of a Church. Markku Ruotsila’s new book Fighting Fundamentalist: Carl McIntire and the Politicization of American Fundamentalism (2015) offers a scholarly account of the life and impact of the man Christianity Today once called the “P. T. Barnum of Fundamentalism.” Ruotsila—who teaches American church history at the University of Helsinki in Finland—argues that more than a showman, Carl McIntire should be considered the founding father of the modern Religious Right. 

Implementing a Vision 

To prove his thesis, Ruotsila provides a narrative of McIntire’s life from his upbringing in 1910s rural Oklahoma to his death in 2002. He demonstrates how McIntire’s early years affected his strong politically conservative beliefs; his disdain for socialism and communism came at an early age in progressive rural Oklahoma. McIntire carried those experiences with him into college, and then Princeton Seminary, where he became entangled in the Fundamentalist-Modernist…

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