Kevin Schultz's Tri-Faith America at Religion Dispatches



8 comments
Paul Harvey

Kevin Schultz's new book Tri-Faith America has received extensive attention here before, including a review by Chris Beneke. Over at Religion Dispatches, Ed Blum has just posted a lengthy and excellent discussion of Kevin's book, beginning with the immortal lines: "I was David Barton once." I was tempted to say, "yes, and I was Wilt Chamberlain once," but read the rest of his intro and you'll see what he means. Here's another little excerpt, and then follow the rest at the break:

Kevin Schultz’s new book, Tri-Faith America: How Catholics and Jews Held Postwar America to Its Protestant Promise, explains my story and so much more. This tremendous study examines how the belief that Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism defined the United States and defeated the nativist vision of America as a “Christian nation,” how the concept of “Judeo-Christian values” were created to express the tri-faith belief, how tri-faith became standard operating procedure during World War II as the nation battled European totalitarianism and Nazi genocide, how it created new struggles in America’s suburbs, fraternal organizations, schools, and courts, and how it created a rhetoric for both the Civil Rights Movement and the rise of the new religious right. Through it all, Schultz brilliantly shows that between the labor-capital divide of the 1930s and the racial divide of the 1960s was an ideological contest over the religious composition of the nation.

Continue reading here . . .

8 comments:

Curtis J. Evans at: September 1, 2011 at 7:52 AM said...

Thanks for the notice, Paul. I read Ed's excellent review of Schultz's important book and found it very helpful. When I was trying to read the book here at UofC's Regenstein (in between pesky migraines), I was struck by the legacy of the legal battles and the public school debates (something that Schultz treats in a separate essay as well). And his point about, as Ed puts it, the way in which the tri-faith concept "softened the ground for civil rights activism." What I see as a major contribution of the work is the way in which Schultz's narrative not only has a specific bearing on the Judeo-Christian nation concept as ideal and imagined past, but also the way in which it points to religious differences on the ground and public school issues among religious persons, which played a part in disestablishing religion (at least, that's the way I read the book). I suppose too it's ironic then that the Christian right began employing this language of Judeo-Christian values, asserting that these were being undermined by a rampant "secularism," which became the preferred rubric in the 1980s (much like "modernism" in the 1920s). Ironic in that Schultz's work points out how this very attempt at a public coalition of faiths (this tri-faith concept) spawned some of the very debates and battles about the meaning of a persistent understanding of America as a "Christian nation." Schultz's book makes the point much more eloquently than I can, if I even have this partially right.

Kelly Baker at: September 1, 2011 at 8:51 AM said...

So, Curtis, we are you going to start blogging for us? That way we can have your excellent analysis up front and center as well as in the comments section.

Paul Harvey at: September 1, 2011 at 8:59 AM said...

Just what I was thinking Kelly!

Curtis J. Evans at: September 1, 2011 at 6:24 PM said...

Hi Kelly,
I'm not averse to blogging. It's just that I've had a bit more time for the summer to follow this and other sites, and I've been mostly "following" what others have written rather than starting a new conversation on a freshly published book or recent topic. As the quarter starts, I won't have as much time. But let me consider this since I already follow your site avidly, as you can see.

Anonymous at: December 13, 2011 at 2:30 PM said...

I had to read this book for a class and it was an enjoyable read. Schultz did a good job of explaining the rise and early success of Tri-Faith due to their common stance against the rising threat of Communism. Schultz also did a great job discussing reasons for Tri-Faith's eventual downfall due to their different doctrines. One "issue" I had was that the book seemed to portray Catholics as a "stubborn" religion in that when their congregation grew, they suddenly weren't as keen on unification through political agenda as they were immediately following World War II; however I surely am overanalyzing that matter. In all, a good read for somebody interested in religion during the 1950s.

Mike Diaz at: December 13, 2011 at 9:45 PM said...

Ah great book. Hey everyone Im a student here at SDSU. Prof. Blum was awesome in getting the class hooked up with a Skype interview with Prof. Schultz. The idea that Tri-faih clerics "softened the ground" for Civil Rights leaders still amazes me. The communalist nature of the faiths in Levittown is what really struck me, it just seemed unexpected. As I read the book, I imagined that greater access for Jews and Catholics would translate to more co-mingling and faith mixing.....but thats not what happened. Even in the fraternities, where discriminatory clauses for the majority had to change, but no so in the minority frats. I've heard this before, mainly used as a way to demonize minorities....yeah, I admit, it was on A.M. stations. The same place where they defend the Judeo-Christian nation "under attack" by immigrants. Paradoxical how the notion of Judeo-Christianity has changed from tolerance to intolerance. WOW. I've learned so much from this book.

Louann Sabatini at: December 15, 2011 at 3:17 AM said...

Kevin Schultz had an interesting idea as to the creation and influence of this "tri-faith" religious power house. His book chronologies Catholics, Protestants, and Jews. Each faith, very different, yet all had some similar things in common that brought them together, to do good for the American people. Schultz gave the background of the formation of this group and then went on to talk about what they did and how they accomplished the things they set out to do. Their goal was to influence as many people as possible to try and keep Christianity at the forefront of American life. Overall, very good book.

Smiley the Gnome at: December 15, 2011 at 4:05 PM said...

We had to read this for my historian's craft class this semester. It covers an aspect of history that I was completely unaware of prior to taking this course. The idea that figures from three faiths went on a mission to try to unite people of those beliefs as a singular entity to combat the forces of the Axis powers. Seeing how preachers, priests, and rabbis of the time come together as one and identify themselves as all being Americans is an interesting concept, especially since they do have some clashing doctrines. Seeing how this idea helped to strengthen the civil rights movement can be debatable but I can see how that works. Outside of that, the book doesn't give much mention to any other groups such as Muslims, Buddhists or Hindus. But I don't think it really needs to touch on that. The book does well to discuss the importance of a tri-faith America.

newer post older post