Marie Griffith‘s new book Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics (Basic Books, 2017) offers a portrait of how religious...

Marie Griffith‘s new book Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics (Basic Books, 2017) offers a portrait of how religious views regarding sexuality became entangled with multiple political debates including those over feminism, gay rights, sex education and in charges of communism and secular humanism. Beginning with the controversies over birth control in the 1920s, she takes us through the twentieth century to the most recent battles over same-sex marriage dividing American Christians both politically and religiously. Moral Combat features pivotal figures including, birth control advocate Margaret Sanger, the fundamentalist radio preacher Billy James Hargis and the first gay Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson. She demonstrates how pro and con positions were not always clearly defined and adherents could change sides in a matter of a decade, finding surprising allies. In the new millennium two distinct religious visions for society and human sexuality had taken root unraveling any hope of consensus.

Marie Griffith is the John C. Danforth Distinguished Professor at Washington University in St. Louis where she directs the Danforth Center on Religion and Politics.

This episode of New Books in Gender Studies was produced in cooperation with the Society for U.S. Intellectual History.


Lilian Calles Barger is a cultural, intellectual and gender historian. Her current book project is entitled The World Come of Age: An Intellectual History of Liberation Theology, forthcoming in 2018 from Oxford University Press.

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