Religion of Fear: The Politics of Horror in Conservative Evangelicalism

Hardcover | September 10, 2008

byJason C. Bivins

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Conservative evangelicalism has transformed American politics, working not just through conventional channels, but through subcultures and alternate modes of communication. Within the world of conservative evangelicalism is a "Religion of Fear," a critical impulse that dramatizes cultural andpolitical issues in frightening ways that contrast "orthodox" behaviors and beliefs with those linked to darkness, fear, and demonology. Jason C. Bivins offers close examinations of several popular evangelical cultural creations including the Left Behind novels, church-sponsored Halloween "HellHouses," Jack Chick's sensational comic tracts, and anti-rock and rap rhetoric and censorship. Bivins depicts these fascinating and often troubling phenomena in vivid detail and shows how they seek to shape evangelical cultural and political identity. Interestingly, he shows that these narratives offear also reveal a strong attraction to and dependence on the very things that are being forbidden. Bivins also describes the steady normalization of such fear narratives in recent decades, a trend he claims bodes ill for American politics. The Religion of Fear is a significant contribution to ourunderstanding of the new shapes of political religion, of American evangelicalism, of the relation of religion and the media, and of the link between religious pop culture and politics.

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Conservative evangelicalism has transformed American politics, working not just through conventional channels, but through subcultures and alternate modes of communication. Within the world of conservative evangelicalism is a "Religion of Fear," a critical impulse that dramatizes cultural andpolitical issues in frightening ways that co...

Jason C. Bivins is an Associate Professor and Associate Department Head in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9.25 × 6.13 × 0.98 inPublished:September 10, 2008Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195340817

ISBN - 13:9780195340815

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"Jason Bivins takes readers on an engaging but unsettling tour of 'the dark corners and sub-basements of American culture, ' from Hell Houses to comic books, and along the way we learn a great deal about religion and politics in the United States. Indispensable for those interested in popular culture and conservative evangelicalism." --Thomas A. Tweed, author of Crossing and Dwelling: A Theory of Religion "In this fine work of critical cultural analysis, Bivins finds the anxious heart of modern conservative evangelicalism in the United States, showing that fear, powerfully nurtured and exacerbated, has been a potent energizer of Christian public activism. This is a dark but necessary story. Democracy always has its demons, and it is best we know their names. This is a sharp work of social and religious analysis that deserves to be widely read." --Robert Orsi, Grace Craddock Nagle Chair in Catholic Studies, Northwestern University "Jason Bivins takes us on a fantastic tour of Christian Right efforts to -- quite literally -- scare the hell out of true believers. Along the way, Religion of Fear reveals edgy new ways of drawing the age-old line between a righteous us and a sinful them. Lucid, graceful, fun, and disquieting." --James Morone, author of Hellfire Nation: The Politics of Sin in American History and coeditor of Healthy, Wealthy and Fair