The Antichrist and the Making of American Antiliberalism

By Steven P. Miller

FDR, Hitler, Mussolini, Obama, Nicolae Carpathia . . . It’s hard to keep up with all of the possible Antichrists, past and present. We need someone to keep the record straight. More importantly for students of modern American history, we need someone to tease out the connections between eschatology and politics—specifically, between dispensationalism and antiliberalism. That’s where Matthew Sutton comes in. Readers of the New York Times op ed page and viewers of MSNBC know that Sutton is up to the task. His recent presentation at the American Historical Association provided another window into his eagerly anticipated (and NEH-supported) project, tentatively titled American Evangelicals and the Politics of Apocalypse (Harvard). Sutton’s forthcoming piece in The Journal of American History, “Was FDR the Antichrist? The Birth of Fundamentalist Antiliberalism in a Global Age,” shows how eschatology-fueled opposition to the New Deal laid the foundation for the rise of the Religious Right. As the final part of the title suggests, Sutton pays special attention to the inescapably global frame of politically attuned eschatology. Before the March issue hits the newsstands (or, rather, slides into your departmental mail slot), check out this fascinating podcast with JAH editor Edward Linenthal in which Sutton discusses the prophetic—and by extension, the political—implications of Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia and FDR’s National Recovery Administration. Beware the Blue Eagle . . .


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