Christian Century review

I was very pleased to get a Christian Century review of Moral Minority in the January 23, 2013, issue of Christian Century. In it Heath Carter of Valparaiso University offers probably one of the clearest synopses of the book I’ve yet seen. Here are a couple of excerpts:

In Moral Minority, David Swartz recovers the story of the unlikely coalition these progressive evangelicals forged in the 1960s and 1970s. The book unfolds as a series of engaging biographical sketches that offer a window into the diverse experiences and concerns animating the movement. . . .

Shifting seamlessly back and forth from the lives of such leading individuals to the wider relational and institutional networks within which they moved, Swartz persuasively shows that by the mid-1970s, though the evangelical left was undoubtedly a minority movement, it boasted surprisingly broad-based roots. It even packed an electoral punch, or so it seemed in 1976, when a groundswell of evangelical support helped a born-again Democrat by the name of Jimmy Carter to win the White House. At that moment there seemed no reason to question evangelicalism’s compatibility with progressive causes and candidates. . . .

Moral Minority infuses a welcome dose of suspense into the story of how American evangelicalism became a cornerstone of a resurgent modern conservatism. While historians have busied themselves in recent years searching for the origins of the Christian right in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, Swartz demonstrates that as late as the 1970s, evangelicals’ political allegiances remained fluid. He is careful—and right—to avoid giving the impression that born-again believers stood then at a fork in the road, as likely to veer left as right. But in calling attention to the contingencies, most notably those surrounding the vexed politics of abortion, he underscores that even on the eve of the Reagan revolution some alternative routes were possible.

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