Benjamin A. CowanDec 15, 2021
Moral Majorities Across the Americas
Brazil, the United States, and the Creation of the Religious Right
University of North Carolina Press 2021
This new history of the Christian right does not stop at national or religious boundaries. In Moral Majorities Across the Americas, Brazil, the United States, and the Creation of the Religious Right (UNC Press, 2021), Benjamin A. Cowan chronicles the advent of a hemispheric religious movement whose current power and influence make headlines and generate no small amount of shock in Brazil and the United States. These two countries, Cowan argues, played host to the principal activists and institutions who collaboratively fashioned the ascendant religious conservatism of the late twentieth century. Cowan not only unearths the deep historical connections between Brazilian and U.S. religious conservatives but also proves just how essential Brazilian thinkers, activists, and institutions were to engendering right-wing political power in the Americas. Cowan shows that both Protestant and Catholic religious warriors began to commune in the 1930s around a passionate aversion to mainstream ecumenicalism and moderate political ideas. Brazilian intellectuals, politicians, religious leaders, and captains of industry worked with partners at home and in the United States to build a united right. Together, activists engaged in a series of reactionary theological discussions. Their transnational, transdenominational platform fostered a sense of common cause and allowed them to develop a series of strategies that pushed once marginal ideas to the center of public discourse, reshaped religious demographics, and effected a rightward shift in politics across two continents.
Ethan Besser Fredrick is a graduate student in Modern Latin American history seeking his PhD at the University of Minnesota. His work focuses on the Transatlantic Catholic movements in Mexico and Spain during the early 20th century.