Research Programs: Fellowships for University Teachers

Period of Performance

6/1/2011 - 5/31/2012

Funding Totals

$50,400.00 (approved)
$50,400.00 (awarded)

American Evangelicals and the Politics of Apocalypse

FAIN: FA-55739-11

Matthew Avery Sutton
Washington State University (Pullman, WA 99164-0001)

This project examines the relationships among American religion, race, politics, and culture in the twentieth century by focusing on the rise and evolution of American evangelicalism. It is significant for the following reasons. First, it takes seriously the global contexts (including Zionism, communism, economic depression, Fascism, world wars and Cold War) that shaped the movement. Second, it juxtaposes the narratives of black and white evangelicals demonstrating how many African American conservative Christians, who embraced the same apocalyptic theology as their white counterparts, developed a fundamentally different understanding of the relationships among religion, international events, and politics. Finally, it forces us to rethink the political nature of American evangelicalism. Well before the start of the Civil Rights movement, white and black evangelicals had developed deep and conflicting views of New Deal liberalism and the proper role of the federal government.

Media Coverage

Holy Nation: America, Born Again (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Crawford Gribbon
Publication: National Interest
Date: 11/2/2015

American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism (Review)
Author(s): Dan Hummel
Publication: Marginalia: Los Angeles Review of Books
Date: 10/27/2015

Apokalypse nå eller aldri (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Henning Ness
Publication: NY TID (Finland)
Date: 11/12/2015

Apokalyps Ganska Snart (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Joel Halldorf
Publication: Forum Axess (Sweden)
Date: 10/28/2015

American Apocalypse by Matthew Avery Sutton—Review—The Rise of Christian Evangelicals (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Nicolas Guyatt
Publication: Guardian
Date: 8/8/2015

The Future Once (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Theo Hobson
Publication: Times Literary Supplement
Date: 7/3/2015

The Evangelical Apocalypse is All Your Fault (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Jay Michaelson
Publication: Daily Beast
Date: 11/21/2014

’American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism’ by Matthew Avery Sutton: The Relentless Rise to Prominence of US Evangelicalism (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Tony Allen-Mills
Publication: London Sunday Times
Date: 12/21/2014

Briefly Noted (Media Coverage)
Publication: New Yorker
Date: 4/15/2015

The End (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Meghan O’Gieblyn
Publication: Boston Review
Date: 3/1/2015

The Sense of an Ending (Review)
Author(s): Stephen Prothero
Publication: Bookforum
Date: 2/1/2015

American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism (Review)
Author(s): Elaine Housby
Publication: LSE [London School of Economics] Review of Books
Date: 2/3/2015

Ready for the Rapture (Review)
Author(s): D. G. Hart
Publication: Wall Street Journal
Date: 1/20/2015

American Apocalypse by Matthew Sutton: The Power of the Preachers (Review)
Author(s): Denis Donoghue
Publication: Irish Times
Date: 1/4/2015

Associated Products

“Was FDR the Antichrist? The Birth of Fundamentalist Anti-liberalism in a Global Age.” (Article)
Title: “Was FDR the Antichrist? The Birth of Fundamentalist Anti-liberalism in a Global Age.”
Author: Matthew Avery Sutton
Abstract: This article analyzes the rise of American fundamentalist anti-liberalism in the 1930s and situates it in a global context. I argue that at the very moment of the New Deal’s inception, fundamentalists began organizing against the expanding state. They helped foment conservative opposition to Roosevelt, lay the foundations for post-war religious mobilization, and create the discourse that subsequent generations of religious conservatives adopted and used to shape American politics. They are, therefore, essential to our understanding of the rise of modern Christian political engagement, the success of the religious right, and ultimately the transformation of American politics and culture in the twentieth century.
Year: 2012
Primary URL:
Access Model: subscription
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Journal of American History
Publisher: Organization of American Historians

Why the Antichrist Matters in Politics (Article)
Title: Why the Antichrist Matters in Politics
Author: Matthew Avery Sutton
Year: 2012
Primary URL:
Access Model: open
Format: Magazine
Periodical Title: New York Times
Publisher: New York Times Company

American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism (Book)
Title: American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism
Author: Matthew Avery Sutton
Abstract: "American Apocalypse" shows how a group of radical Protestants, anticipating the end of the world, paradoxically transformed it. The author draws on extensive archival research to document the ways an initially obscure network of charismatic preachers and their followers reshaped American religion, at home and abroad, for over a century. Perceiving the United States as besieged by Satanic forces—communism and secularism, family breakdown and government encroachment—Billy Sunday, Charles Fuller, Billy Graham, and others took to the pulpit and airwaves to explain how Biblical end-times prophecy made sense of a world ravaged by global wars, genocide, and the threat of nuclear extinction. Believing Armageddon was nigh, these preachers used what little time was left to warn of the coming Antichrist, save souls, and prepare the nation for God’s final judgment. By the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan and conservative Republicans appropriated evangelical ideas to create a morally infused political agenda that challenged the pragmatic tradition of governance through compromise and consensus. Following 9/11, the politics of apocalypse continued to resonate with an anxious populace seeking a roadmap through a world spinning out of control. Premillennialist evangelicals have erected mega-churches, shaped the culture wars, made and destroyed presidential hopefuls, and brought meaning to millions of believers. Narrating the story of modern evangelicalism from the perspective of the faithful, Sutton demonstrates how apocalyptic thinking continues to exert enormous influence over the American mainstream today. (description provided by publisher.)
Year: 2014
Primary URL:
Publisher: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 0674048369
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes

Apocalypse Now (Radio/Audio Broadcast or Recording)
Title: Apocalypse Now
Abstract: Evangelicals have played an important role in modern day American politics - from supporting President Trump to helping elect Jimmy Carter back in 1976. How and when did this religious group become so intertwined with today's political issues? In this episode, what it means to be an evangelical today and how it has changed over time.
Date: 06/12/2019
Primary URL:
Access Model: Open access
Format: Digital File
Format: Web