Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics

R. Marie Griffith. Basic, $32 (416p) ISBN 978-0-465-09475-2
Religion historian Griffith (American Religions) takes a sweeping look at the roots of today’s culture wars over abortion, sexual identity, and the intersection of sexuality and racial differences in this exceptional cultural history. Griffith opens not with the free-wheeling sexual revolution of the 1960s but in the ’20s with Margaret Sanger’s efforts to make contraception more widely available. Griffith goes on to use D.H. Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover as her prime example of how sensibilities around sexuality changed dramatically during the 20th century—the novel first appeared in America, abridged, in 1928, and could not be published in full until more than three decades later. With her account of the role played by prominent clergy and religious movements working to liberalize abortion law, Griffith argues that Roe v. Wade is best understood not solely as part of the women’s liberation movement but in the context of religious support for abortion rights. Likewise, her account of the theology that justified racial segregation illustrates an area where religious and cultural beliefs clash. Griffith’s remarkably comprehensive book will be of interest to scholars and lay readers alike. Agent: Geri Thoma, Writers House. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/09/2017
Release date: 12/12/2017
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