Miller, “The Age of Evangelicalism”

Miller, Steven P.  2014.  The Age of Evangelicalism: America’s Born-Again Years.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Publisher’s Description: For years, evangelicalism has figured prominently in the American cultural and political landscape, seen everywhere from the election of openly devout President George W. Bush to the wild popularity of Christian self-help books and end-times thrillers like the Left Behind series and prompting sociologist Alan Wolfe to write, in 2003, ”We are all evangelicals now.” In fact, Wolfe responded not at the emergence or height of the phenomenon, but near its conclusion. Evangelical Christianity became central to American culture over several decades, beginning as early as the 1970s, but by 2008, that historical moment was ending.

Steven P. Miller offers an in-depth exploration of the place and meaning of evangelical Christianity in the United States between 1970 and 2008, America’s born-again years, when evangelical Christianity entered the American mainstream in ways both obviously and subtly influential. The Age of evangelicalism began in the 1970s, propelled by the rapid ascendance of an avowedly born-again president, Jimmy Carter, and the equally rapid emergence of the Christian Right. It climaxed three decades later with the presidential campaigns of George W. Bush, who synthesized Carter’s Jesus talk and the Christian Right’s cultural activism. During this period, the influence of evangelical Christianity extended well beyond its churches. Evangelicalism-broad enough to include both Hal Lindsey’s best-selling 1970 prophecy guide, The Late, Great Planet Earth and, thirty years later, Tammy Faye Bakker Messner’s emergence as a gay icon-meant that it influenced even its many detractors and bemused bystanders, who resided in an increasingly secular nation.

During the Age of Evangelicalism, Miller demonstrates, born-again Christianity was far from a subculture. It provided a language, medium, and foil by which millions of Americans came to terms with the end of the ”American Century.”