Out of the Mouths of Babes: Girl Evangelists in the Flapper Era (Religion in America)

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9780199790876: Out of the Mouths of Babes: Girl Evangelists in the Flapper Era (Religion in America)

The 1920s saw one of the most striking revolutions in manners and morals to have marked North American society, affecting almost every aspect of life, from dress and drink to sex and salvation. Protestant Christianity was being torn apart by a heated controversy between traditionalists and the modernists, as they sought to determine how much their beliefs and practices should be altered by scientific study and more secular attitudes. Out of the controversy arose the Fundamentalist movement, which has become a powerful force in twentieth-century America.

During this decade, hundreds (and perhaps thousands) of young girl preachers, some not even school age, joined the conservative Christian cause, proclaiming traditional values and condemning modern experiments with the new morality. Some of the girls drew crowds into the thousands. But the stage these girls gained went far beyond the revivalist platform. The girl evangelist phenomenon was recognized in the wider society as well, and the contrast to the flapper worked well for the press and the public. Girl evangelists stood out as the counter-type of the flapper, who had come to define the modern girl. The striking contrast these girls offered to the racy flapper and to modern culture generally made girl evangelists a convenient and effective tool for conservative and revivalist Christianity, a tool which was used by their adherents in the clash of cultures that marked the 1920s.

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About the Author:


Thomas A. Robinson holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies and has taught at the University of Lethbridge for the past twenty-five years. His fields of research include the rise of Pentecostalism in North America and Jewish-Christian relations in the Roman Empire.

Lanette D. Ruff holds a Ph.D. in sociology and has studied various components of the criminal justice system's response to domestic violence. She teaches courses in Sociology, Family Violence Issues, and Women's Studies.

Review:


"The beauty of Out of the Mouths of Babes is that it takes a phenomenon that is largely forgotten and brings it back to life...There is much to commend in this book...Well written and well researched, Out of the Mouths of Babes is an entertaining read. Its appeal goes beyond just those who are interested in women in ministry." --Pneuma


"Thomas A. Robinson and Lanette D. Ruff have identified an intriguing topic: the popularity of evangelical and Pentecostal 'girl evangelists' during the 1920s and 1930s...This book expands what we know about female preachers and the growth of evangelical Protestantism and Pentecostalism in the early twentieth century...[Robinson and Ruff] bring to light a chapter in American religious history that deserves further attention and study." --American Historical Review


"A sprawling, sometimes irreverent, look at a fascinating chapter in the histories of U.S. Pentecostalism, popular gender ideology, and interpretations of childhood."
-- Betty DeBerg, Professor of Religion, University of Northern Iowa


"Out of the Mouths of Babes skillfully traces the fascinating phenomenon of girl evangelists who drew incredible crowds during the 1920s and then vanished from popular memory as well as the history books. Robinson and Ruff resurrect their stories to carefully analyze the ways in which these flapper fundamentalists illuminate the era's popular culture, religious currents, and obsession with youth."--Matthew Avery Sutton, author of Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America


"Fascinating...This fascinating volume sheds new light on fundamentalism and especially Pentecostalism during the 1920s and 1930s through an analysis of the emergence, development, and then eventual decline of the phenomenon of girl evangelists among these sectors of the revivalist tradition of Protestantism...[The authors] complement one another nicely in providing historical and sociological background."--Religious Studies Review


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