Union Made: Working People and the Rise of Social Christianity in Chicago by Heath W. Carter

Union Made: Working People and the Rise of Social Christianity in Chicago

byHeath W. Carter

Hardcover | September 15, 2015

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In Gilded Age America, rampant inequality gave rise to a new form of Christianity, one that sought to ease the sufferings of the poor not simply by saving their souls, but by transforming society. In Union Made, Heath W. Carter advances a bold new interpretation of the origins of AmericanSocial Christianity. While historians have often attributed the rise of the Social Gospel to middle-class ministers, seminary professors, and social reformers, this book places working people at the very center of the story. The major characters - blacksmiths, glove makers, teamsters, printers, andthe like - have been mostly forgotten, but as Carter convincingly argues, their collective contribution to American Social Christianity was no less significant than that of Walter Rauschenbusch or Jane Addams. Leading readers into the thick of late-19th-century Chicago's tumultuous history, Carter shows that countless working-class believers participated in the heated debates over the implications of Christianity for industrializing society, often with as much fervor as they did in other contests overwages and the length of the workday. The city's trade unionists, socialists, and anarchists advanced theological critiques of laissez faire capitalism and protested "scab ministers" who cozied up to the business elite. Their criticisms compounded church leaders' anxieties about losing the poor, suchthat by the turn-of-the-century many leading Christians were arguing that the only way to salvage hopes of a Christian America was for the churches to soften their position on "the labor question." As denomination after denomination did just that, it became apparent that the Social Gospel was,indeed, ascendant--from below.At a time when the fate of the labor movement and rising economic inequality are once more pressing social concerns, Union Made opens the door for a new way forward--by changing the way we think about the past.

About The Author

Heath W. Carter is an assistant professor at Valparaiso University, where he teaches a variety of courses on the history of the modern United States. He is a co-editor of two forthcoming volumes on religion in American history.

Details & Specs

Title:Union Made: Working People and the Rise of Social Christianity in ChicagoFormat:HardcoverDimensions:296 pages, 9.29 × 6.42 × 0.98 inPublished:September 15, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199385955

ISBN - 13:9780199385959

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgementsIntroduction: The Working-Class Origins of Social Christianity1. "Is the Laborer Worthy of his Hire?" The Decline of Democratized Christianity in Antebellum Chicago2. "Undefiled Christianity" - The Rise of a Working-Class Social Gospel3. "It Pays To Go to Church" - Ministers, "the Mob," and the Scramble for Working-Class Souls4. "With the Prophets of Old" - Working People's Challenge to the Gilded Age Church5. "The Divorce Between Labor and the Church" - Working People Strike Out on Their Own in 1894 Chicago6. "To Christianize Christianity" - Labor On the Move in Turn-of-the-Century Chicago7. "Social Christianity Becomes Official" - The Rise of a Middle-Class Social GospelEpilogue: The Fate of American Social Christianity in the Twentieth Century and BeyondNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Union Made provides an amazing history of the battle between elite religious leaders and workers and their pastors to define the meaning of Christianity in society. Set in Chicago... Carter's deep research allows the words from pastors and labor leaders from across the city to come alive. Ifyou care about the intersection of faith and labor, the development of the social gospel, or labor history in Chicago, this is a must read." --Kim Bobo, Founding Director, Interfaith Worker Justice