Saving History: How White Evangelicals Tour the Nation’s Capital and Redeem a Christian America

Lauren R. Kerby. Univ. of North Carolina, $22 (208p) ISBN 978-1-469-65877-3
Kerby, religious studies scholar at Harvard Divinity School, explores in her excellent debut the historical and political narratives crafted and reinforced by Christian heritage tourism in Washington, D.C. Using field research and interviews, she discovers that tour guides and tourists share a common set of beliefs about the role of white Christian evangelicals in American history—formed through Christian nationalist literature, such as Peter Marshall and David Manuel’s 1977 bestseller, The Light and the Glory—which shape their encounter with D.C. long before they set foot in the capital. Kerby explains how white Christian evangelicals understand themselves as the rightful religious and political heirs of America’s founders, as moral leaders in exile, as victims of secularizing agents who seek to erase Christianity from the public square, and as rightful saviors of a nation in spiritual and political jeopardy. Her interviews reveal that Christian heritage tourism has an explicit political purpose, encouraging a “restorative nostalgia” in participants who are “tasked with learning the nation’s Christian history and using it to restore the nation to its previous Christian ideals.” Thoughtfully documenting and reflecting upon the contours of a uniquely American subculture, this ethnographic study will appeal to anyone interested in the pull of American Christian nationalism. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 01/17/2020
Release date: 04/13/2020
Genre: Religion
Hardcover - 208 pages - 978-1-4696-5589-5
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