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Gospel according to the Klan : the KKK's appeal to Protestant America, 1915-1930 / Kelly J. Baker.

By: Baker, Kelly (Kelly J.).
Material type: TextTextSeries: Culture America: Publisher: Lawrence, Kan. : University Press of Kansas, 2011Description: xiv, 326 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.ISBN: 9780700617920 (cloth : alk. paper); 0700617922 (cloth : alk. paper).Subject(s): Ku Klux Klan (1915- ) -- History -- 20th century | Protestantism -- United States -- History -- 20th centuryDDC classification: 322.4/2097309042
Contents:
"Let's get behind Old Glory and the church of Jesus Christ": religion, American narratives, and the 1920s Klan -- "Thank God for the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan": the Klan's protestantism -- "Take the Christ out of America, and America fails!": the Klan's nationalism -- "God give us men": the Klan's Christian knighthood -- "The sacredness of motherhood": white womanhood, maternity, and marriage in the 1920s Klan -- "White skin will not redeem a black heart": the Klan's whiteness, white supremacy, and American race -- "Rome's reputation is stained with protestant blood": the Klan-Notre Dame Riot of May 1924 -- "Guardians of privilege": what the Klan tells us about American (religious) history -- "Passing the torch": the Klan's brand in America.
Summary: To many Americans, modern marches by the Ku Klux Klan may seem like a throwback to the past or posturing by bigoted hatemongers. To the author, they are a reminder of how deeply the Klan is rooted in American mainstream Protestant culture. Most studies of the KKK dismiss it as an organization of racists attempting to intimidate minorities and argue that the Klan used religion only as a rhetorical device. The author contends instead that the KKK based its justifications for hatred on a particular brand of Protestantism that resonated with mainstream Americans, one that employed burning crosses and robes to explicitly exclude Jews and Catholics. To show how the Klan used religion to further its agenda of hate while appealing to everyday Americans, the author takes readers back to its "second incarnation" in the 1920s. During that decade, the revived Klan hired a public relations firm that suggested it could reach a wider audience by presenting itself as a "fraternal Protestant organization that championed white supremacy as opposed to marauders of the night." That campaign was so successful that the Klan established chapters in all forty-eight states. The author has scoured official newspapers and magazines issued by the Klan during that era to reveal the inner workings of the order and show how its leadership manipulated religion, nationalism, gender, and race. Through these publications we see a Klan trying to adapt its hate-based positions with the changing times in order to expand its base by reaching beyond a narrowly defined white male Protestant America. This engrossing expose looks closely at the Klan's definition of Protestantism, its belief in a strong relationship between church and state, its notions of masculinity and femininity, and its views on Jews and African Americans. The book also examines in detail the Klan's infamous 1924 anti-Catholic riot at Notre Dame University and draws alarming parallels between the Klan's message of the 1920s and current posturing by some Tea Party members and their sympathizers. Analyzing the complex religious arguments the Klan crafted to gain acceptability and credibility among angry Americans, the book reveals that the Klan was more successful at crafting this message than has been credited by historians. To tell American history from this startling perspective demonstrates that some citizens still participate in intolerant behavior to protect a fabled white Protestant nation.
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Item type Current location Call number Status Date due Barcode
Book University of Texas At Tyler
Stacks - 3rd Floor
HS2330.K63 B337 2011 (Browse shelf) Available 0000002140721

Includes bibliographical references and index.

"Let's get behind Old Glory and the church of Jesus Christ": religion, American narratives, and the 1920s Klan -- "Thank God for the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan": the Klan's protestantism -- "Take the Christ out of America, and America fails!": the Klan's nationalism -- "God give us men": the Klan's Christian knighthood -- "The sacredness of motherhood": white womanhood, maternity, and marriage in the 1920s Klan -- "White skin will not redeem a black heart": the Klan's whiteness, white supremacy, and American race -- "Rome's reputation is stained with protestant blood": the Klan-Notre Dame Riot of May 1924 -- "Guardians of privilege": what the Klan tells us about American (religious) history -- "Passing the torch": the Klan's brand in America.

To many Americans, modern marches by the Ku Klux Klan may seem like a throwback to the past or posturing by bigoted hatemongers. To the author, they are a reminder of how deeply the Klan is rooted in American mainstream Protestant culture. Most studies of the KKK dismiss it as an organization of racists attempting to intimidate minorities and argue that the Klan used religion only as a rhetorical device. The author contends instead that the KKK based its justifications for hatred on a particular brand of Protestantism that resonated with mainstream Americans, one that employed burning crosses and robes to explicitly exclude Jews and Catholics. To show how the Klan used religion to further its agenda of hate while appealing to everyday Americans, the author takes readers back to its "second incarnation" in the 1920s. During that decade, the revived Klan hired a public relations firm that suggested it could reach a wider audience by presenting itself as a "fraternal Protestant organization that championed white supremacy as opposed to marauders of the night." That campaign was so successful that the Klan established chapters in all forty-eight states. The author has scoured official newspapers and magazines issued by the Klan during that era to reveal the inner workings of the order and show how its leadership manipulated religion, nationalism, gender, and race. Through these publications we see a Klan trying to adapt its hate-based positions with the changing times in order to expand its base by reaching beyond a narrowly defined white male Protestant America. This engrossing expose looks closely at the Klan's definition of Protestantism, its belief in a strong relationship between church and state, its notions of masculinity and femininity, and its views on Jews and African Americans. The book also examines in detail the Klan's infamous 1924 anti-Catholic riot at Notre Dame University and draws alarming parallels between the Klan's message of the 1920s and current posturing by some Tea Party members and their sympathizers. Analyzing the complex religious arguments the Klan crafted to gain acceptability and credibility among angry Americans, the book reveals that the Klan was more successful at crafting this message than has been credited by historians. To tell American history from this startling perspective demonstrates that some citizens still participate in intolerant behavior to protect a fabled white Protestant nation.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

CHOICE Review

In this well-written, persuasively argued book, Baker (Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville) shows that early-20th-century Ku Klux Klan members were not as removed from the 1920s religious and cultural mainstream as scholars who tout themes of tolerance in American history might desire them to be. The era from the 1910s to 1930s, which could be described as 30 years of "tribalisms," saw not only the Klan, but the rise of American eugenics, anti-Semitic quota systems, strict Jim Crow laws, and closed-door isolationist policies that kept nonwhite Protestant immigration to a minimum. Baker argues that the Klan, a racist white Protestant organization that reached its membership peak of four million in 1924, "was representative of 1920s America in its white supremacy, anti-Catholicism, anti-semitism, and other vices." In chapters on the movement's Protestantism, nationalism, racism, and gender discourses, Baker provides readers with the most detailed study of the early-20th-century Klan's religious concepts and practices to date. Her suggestion that the Klan's intertwining of nationalism and religion makes it part of the lineage of the American Right is particularly provocative, and sure to stimulate some heated discussion. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty; general readers. S. McCloud University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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