Saturday, 24 November 2018

CfP: Work - Recording change in working lives

The Oral History Society (in association with Llafur and Britain at
Work) will be holding its 2019 annual conference at Swansea University
on the subject of 'Oral History @ Work: Recording Change in Working
Lives'. The conference will take place on 5-6 July 2019.

We are currently seeking proposals for conference papers (closes on 14
December 2018) and would appreciate it if you could forward this email
to friends, colleagues and mailing lists who may be interested.

Note on proposals

The deadline for submission of proposals is 14 December 2018. Each
proposal should include: a title, an abstract of between 250-300 words,
your name (and the names of any co-presenters, panellists, etc), your
institution or organisation, your email address, and a note of any
particular requirements. Most importantly your abstract should
demonstrate the use of oral history or personal testimony and be
directly related to the conference theme. Proposals that include audio
playback are strongly encouraged. Proposals should be emailed to the
Oral History @ Work conference Administrator, Polly Owen, at They will be assessed anonymously by the
conference organisers, and presenters will be contacted in
January/February 2019.

Further information on the conference can be found here:

Friday, 16 November 2018

Telling the Mayflower story

Launch of the Socialist History Society publication: "Telling the Mayflower Story, Thanksgiving or Land Grabbing, Massacres & Slavery?" by Danny Reilly and Steve Cushion.

Fri 30 November 2018
UCL Institute of the Americas
51 Gordon Square

In the autumn of 1620 the ship Mayflower, with 102 passengers, landed in North America and started the colonisation of the area that became known as New England. The Mayflower had landed in a region where the Sachem of the local Wampanoag Nation was Massasoit, who subsequently helped them survive. In the autumn of 1676, following the defeat of a war of rebellion led by Massasoit’s son Metacomet (King Philip), the ship Seaflower set sail from New England with a ‘cargo’ of Indigenous American slaves bound for the English Caribbean colonies.

The creation of the New England colonies by thousands of English colonists in the seventeenth century involved the rapid decline in the indigenous population, the violent seizure of territory and slavery. However, the 400-year anniversary commemorations in the UK seem to be overlooking this. 

The Mayflower journey was part of Early English Colonialism:
• The invasions of Virginia, New England and the Caribbean were accompanied by land seizure wars against the Indigenous peoples of North America
• The economic success of New England depended on trade with the slave colonies of the Caribbean, and included the trafficking of slaves
• The colonists established a pattern of ‘extravagant’ violence in the wars they conducted against Indigenous Nations that was continued for 300 years
• The establishment of a tradition of sanitizing the story of English colonialism in the Americas that has lasted 400 years

Danny Reilly is a support tutor working in higher education and a volunteer ESOL teacher who has worked in a voluntary capacity for several refugee support groups. He has been an anti-racist activist for many years, a founder of the Campaign Against Racism and Fascism and worked at the Institute of Race Relations from 1977 to 1993 as information officer.

Steve Cushion is author of "The Hidden History of the Cuban Revolution: How the Working Class Shaped the Guerrillas’ Victory", "Killing Communists in Havana: The Start of the Cold War in Latin America" and "Up Down Turn Around: The Political Economy of Slavery and the Socialist case for Reparations". He is joint author, with Dennis Bartholomew, of "By Our Own Hands: A People’s History of the Grenadian Revolution". His current research is on German and Italian volunteers who fought in the French Resistance.
Attendance to this event is free of charge but registration is required- use link below

Monday, 29 October 2018

Victorian blogging - writing wrongs

Conway Hall Ethical Society presents:

Victorian Blogging – Writing Wrongs

Wednesday 31st October @ 7:00 pm - Wednesday 5th December
A series of Wednesday evening talks commencing 31 October and running until 5 December.
These talks are free. Please register for talks by clicking on the links below. 
Speakers: Prof. Joad Raymond, Dr Joseph Kelly, Dr Gregory Claeys, Prof. David Nash, Deborah Lavin & Viv Regan
Presented by Conway Hall Ethical Society and curated by Deborah Lavin.
This series of talks is part of the Heritage Lottery-funded project Victorian Blogging that will see our collection of over 1,300 nineteenth-century pamphlets digitised and made freely available online.
Forgotten at the back of dusty desk drawers, foxed in crumbling box-files on library shelves, these pamphlets disguise themselves as insubstantial ephemera of little consequence, but their flimsy pages and the words they contain have proved to be quite the opposite — the catalyst igniting revolutions, overthrowing governments, and altering the course of history. These talks reflect some of the myriad issues covered in our pamphlet collection including women’s rights, slavery, socialism, blasphemy laws and the parallels between these Victorian pamphleteers and contemporary bloggers.
Wednesdays, 31 October–5 December 2018, 19:00–20:30
31 October | Brockway Room 
Prof. Joad Raymond charts the rise of the pamphlet as a method to communicate alternative political ideas and challenge power in early modern Britain.
7 November | Brockway Room
Dr Joseph Kelly examines the problems faced by the slavery abolition movement in Britain after the 1830s in their efforts to eliminate slavery from the face of the earth.
14 November | Library* 
Dr Gregory Claeys considers whether, despite Marxism’s well-known rejection of earlier utopian socialism, Karl Marx might be termed a utopian thinker, and how some of his ideas were adapted but also built upon by the English socialist William Morris.
21 November | Brockway Room
Prof. David Nash traces the long battle to abolish the Blasphemy Laws in England, from the seventeenth century to their abolition in 2008 and how the concept of blasphemy affects us all today.
28 November | Library*
Deborah Lavin reveals how whilst opposition to contraception may have been blinkered and bigoted, it was also often liberal, radical, socialist and feminist.
5 December | Brockway Room
Viv Regan of Spiked will explore the threats to open debate and blogging online and discuss what has happened to the lost promise of internet freedom.
Deborah Lavin is an independent historian particularly interested in the conflicts between radicals and socialists in the nineteeth century. At Conway Hall, she has given various talks, mostly on issues connected to Charles Bradlaugh, Annie Besant and Karl Marx; she has also curated several talks series, most recently The British Business of Slavery and Stop the First World War.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Seminar - Workers in the Cuban Revolution

Register for free here

For the full programme of events in the social history of revolutions series please see here

Friday, 5 October 2018

London Socialist Historians Group Newsletter 65 (Autumn 2018) now online

The latest issue of the LSHG Newsletter is now online, featuring Keith Flett on 1968, John Newsinger reviewing a work on evangelical Christians in Trump's America and a review of Martin Empson's popular work 'Kill All the Gentlemen'.  There is also notice of a new book edited by Michael Rosen, Workers' Tales.   Letters, articles, criticisms and contributions to debate are most welcome. The deadline for the next issue is 1 December 2018 - please contact Keith Flett on the address above.  The LSHG receive no official funding and rely entirely on supporters for money for our activities. To become a member of the LSHG (cost £10) - please again contact Keith.  A reminder of our seminar programme is below.

LSHG SEMINARS Autumn 2018 

 All seminars will take place in Room 304 (third floor) at 5.30pm in the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU and entry is free without ticket although donations are welcome.

Monday 8 October Rupa Huq MP: from lecture room to Parliament: ‘From theory to practice : the difficulties of transitioning from teaching society and politics in the lecture hall/seminar to “doing “ it in Parliament.”

Monday 22 October Marika Sherwood: The beginning of the Cold War in Ghana (Gold Coast) in 1948

Monday 5 November John Newsinger: The Other Spirit of '45: War, Empire and the Attlee Governments

Monday 19 November Daryl Leeworthy Labour Country: Social Democracy's Roots and Possibilities.

Monday 3 December Keith Flett. 50 years since the Pelican paperback of The Making of the English Working Class. Still relevant?

New Book: Workers' Tales

Workers' Tales:  Socialist Fairy Tales, Fables, and Allegories from Great Britain (Oddly Modern Fairy Tales)
Michael Rosen  (Author), Jack Zipes (Author)
 Princeton University Press 
Paperback – 16 Oct 2018 
ISBN 978-0691175348 

Publishers's note: 

A collection of political tales—first published in British workers’ magazines—selected and introduced by acclaimed critic and author Michael Rosen

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, unique tales inspired by traditional literary forms appeared frequently in socialist-leaning British periodicals, such as the Clarion, Labour Leader, and Social Democrat. Based on familiar genres—the fairy tale, fable, allegory, parable, and moral tale—and penned by a range of lesser-known and celebrated authors, including Schalom Asch, Charles Allen Clarke, Frederick James Gould, and William Morris, these stories were meant to entertain readers of all ages—and some challenged the conventional values promoted in children’s literature for the middle class. In Workers’ Tales, acclaimed critic and author Michael Rosen brings together more than forty of the best and most enduring examples of these stories in one beautiful volume.

Throughout, the tales in this collection exemplify themes and ideas related to work and the class system, sometimes in wish-fulfilling ways. In “Tom Hickathrift,” a little, poor person gets the better of a gigantic, wealthy one. In “The Man Without a Heart,” a man learns about the value of basic labor after testing out more privileged lives. And in “The Political Economist and the Flowers,” two contrasting gardeners highlight the cold heart of Darwinian competition. Rosen’s informative introduction describes how such tales advocated for contemporary progressive causes and countered the dominant celebration of Britain’s imperial values. The book includes archival illustrations, biographical notes about the writers, and details about the periodicals where the tales first appeared.

Provocative and enlightening, Workers’ Tales presents voices of resistance that are more relevant than ever before.

Land and Freedom

Book Review from the London Socialist Historians Group Newsletter 65 (Autumn 2018)

‘Kill all the Gentlemen’ Class struggle and change in the English countryside 
By Martin Empson
Paperback, 314 pages
Bookmarks, 2018
ISBN: 9781910885697

Martin Empson is well known as a socialist campaigner against climate change, and writes with deep passion about how ‘under capitalism, everything from land and water to plants and animals is turned into a commodity’ and ‘capitalism transformed everything about rural life and agriculture’.

For some activists in the environmental movement, and others, the solution to present day environmental destruction is either to try and go back to some preindustrial mythical idyll, or at the very least to simply romanticise more pastoral agrarian societies that existed before the rise of capitalism.

A warning about where such backward looking thinking can potentially lead might be seen from the intellectual evolution of environmental campaigning writer Paul Kingsnorth – who over the past fifteen years has gone from celebrating the global anti-capitalist movement (see his 2003 work One No, Many Yeses) to an essentially reactionary obsession with a search for ‘Real England’ and a call for a ‘patriotic’, ‘benevolent green [English] nationalism’ as ‘to tie our ecological identity in with our cultural identity’.

As a Marxist, Empson’s history of ‘class struggle and change in the English countryside’ is therefore a timely and welcome antidote to any such backward-looking thinking that national ‘cultural identity’ is something essentially static or timeless, and not forever in flux and evolution.  Empson’s work is not about a mythical lost ‘Merrie England’ but rather takes as its focus rural class struggles from below, and provides a superb synthesis of a mass of material across the best part of a millennium.

Empson notes that ‘the struggles of the rural population did not begin with the development of capitalism’, for ‘the rights and traditions that the English peasantry had were rooted in much earlier battles’, indeed he begins with a detailed discussion of ‘the first great mass rebellion of ordinary people against the feudal system’, the Peasants’ Revolt’ of 1381.

Empson’s work fuses the spirit and analysis of classic socialist and Marxist historiography on the Peasants’ Revolt by the likes of Reg Groves, Phillip Lindsey and Rodney Hilton with more recent scholarship by Juliet Barker and others to give a detailed and thoughtful overview of this famous uprising – and its brutal, bloody crushing by the feudal overlords.  ‘The ruling class never forgot the few weeks when the peasant masses managed to capture some of their most important towns and cities and killed many senior figures’, Empson writes.

There are detailed character sketches of the key rebel leaders like John Ball, Jack Straw and Wat Tyler, while personally as someone who was born in Bury St Edmunds - today a fairly sleepy market town marketed as ‘the Jewel of Suffolk’ by the local tourist board – it was thrilling to read Empson’s account of the local revolt led by former priest John Wrawe during 1381.   

Indeed, after reading Empson’s book one cannot help but be reminded that every sleepy English village or market town one might pass through today would have seen some kind of ‘now open, now hidden’ class struggle over land and freedom at some point.  

In these early revolts, inevitably those who rebelled went wider than just the very poorest in society, and ‘on occasion even members of the gentry, such as Sir Roger Bacon, joined in’ the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. This was a factor even more emphasised in Jack Cade’s revolt of 1450 with its epicentre in and around Kent, and which saw a rebel army form and put forward ‘a series of radical demands by a cross section of the population that wanted an end to the abuses and corruption of Henry VI’s reign’.   Yet as Empson notes, the emergence of a middling sort as a social group in opposition to the rich and powerful ‘could not and would not have stormed London and forced the king to flee without the involvement of thousands of men and women who had their own fears and dreams’ based around ideas of common ownership, and ‘who continued to rise and resist the king’ even after the Cade rebellion had been defeated.

But by the time of the Pilgrimage of Grace, part of the wider Lincolnshire rebellion beginning in 1536 got going, it was not long before ‘the gentry had taken leading roles in the uprising’, with the consent of ‘the commons’.   Yet the gentry in this struggle had a different strategy to that of the commons – to play for time and encourage the king to issue a pardon – and as Empson notes, ‘They wrote to the king’s commander “claiming that their strategy was to divert the commons’ energy into petitioning and waiting for an answer at Lincoln rather than marching further south”.’

And so ‘despite a large army – 10,000 marched to Lincoln … the gentry were able to eventually make the rebels return home’.  As the risings spread over the next few months more nationally, and new leaders emerged, such as Robert Aske in York, Empson notes ‘the commons failed to develop their own leadership which would have allowed the rank and file to push forward where the gentry hesitated’.

Though defeated for the time being, many in the commons began to understand  now clearly how ‘the gentlemen’ would tend to betray their often mass and impressive struggles.   

This is where the title of Empson’s book now emerges from, as the slogan ‘Kill the Gentlemen’ first appeared in the Lincolnshire rising of 1536 – and popped up repeatedly in subsequent revolts in the Tudor period.  As a bill posted in Leeds in 1537 put it, summing up the lessons of the class struggle to that date, ‘Commons, keep well your harness.  Trust you no gentlemen.  Rise all at once’.

It might have been interesting if Empson had expanded a little more on the ideas and ideology of the early rebels – from what was meant by the ideas of ‘the commons’, which pops up repeatedly in the slogans of these early revolts – critically engaging perhaps with the work of Peter Linebaugh – to other ideas around what Christopher Hill called the ‘myth of the Norman Yoke’, the myths and legends around Robin Hood, and what this character came to symbolise for the rural poor in the face of enclosure, injustice and oppression.  

One gentleman who seems to have bucked the general trend in terms of betrayal, the exception who proves the rule perhaps, was Robert Kett, leader of what became known as Kett’s Rebellion in 1549 in and around Norwich, part of a wider year of peasant rebellion and ‘commotion time’ which also saw the more religious ‘Prayer Book Rebellion’ around Exeter.  However this period began to see the rise of capitalist agriculture with the English Civil War,  the development of more individualistic minded yeoman farmers amid the ‘liquidation of the peasantry’ through enclosure of the common land for the benefit of landowners.  Empson introduces both the debate among Marxists around ‘the transition from feudalism to capitalism’ as well as more critically pointing out the human cost of this transition – as he notes, this form of enclosure ‘broke people from their traditional use of the land, destroyed communities and forced people off the land, turning them into wage labourers’.   

Between 1793 to 1815, almost 9 percent of England was enclosed by Act of Parliament – part of the British ruling class’s ‘civilising mission’ to ‘modernise’ just as much as its colonial expansion overseas.  And like the British Empire faced colonial resistance and revolt, so ‘the development of capitalist agriculture and capitalist relations in the countryside was fought ever step of the way’ in Britain, with riots over customary rights and the production and control of food.

Indeed, General Thomas Maitland had been part of the British Empire’s doomed attempt to recolonise and reimpose slavery on revolutionary Saint-Domingue in the 1790s during the Haitian Revolution – and then was in overall command of repressing the Luddite rebellion in the North of England in 1812, before going on to be a colonial governor in Malta and what is now Sri Lanka.   

Empson details famous movements such as Luddism, Swing, and the Tolpuddle Martyrs amid the general ‘rise of the rural proletariat’ and then the long, patient, struggle for agricultural workers’ trade unionism in the latter half of the nineteenth century – often waged initially by liberals like Joseph Arch.  As Empson tellingly notes, the popular commemoration of the Tolpuddle Martyrs by the wider trade union movement ‘contrasts almost completely with the way that the victims of the repression that followed Captain Swing a few years before have been forgotten’.

Empson’s work – impressive in its mastery of so many different struggles over so many centuries and in many ways reminiscent of classic works such as A L Morton’s A People’s History of England and the more recent A Radical History of Britain by Ted Vallance – will hopefully inspire further research and recovery of other ‘forgotten fighters’ for land and liberty in the English countryside.  

Christian Høgsbjerg

Book Review: Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump

From London Socialist Historians Group Newsletter 65 (Autumn 2018)
Image result for believe me trump

Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump
 By John Fea
 William B Eerdmans Publishing Company Grand Rapids, Michigan,
 ISBN 978-0802876416

John Fea is professor of History at Messiah College in Pennsylvania. He is an evangelical Christian shocked at the support that the overwhelming majority of evangelicals, urged on by their pastors, gave to Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential election and at the support that they continue to give him. He had expected Hillary Clinton to win (it is important to always remember that she did win the popular vote) and had been left with feelings of ‘shock, anger and sadness’ when Trump was elected. Much of this was directed at his fellow evangelicals, 81% of whom had voted for Trump and who had been crucial in securing his victory. 

Five days after the election, he attended the megachurch ‘where I have worshipped for the last sixteen years’.  When he looked around at his fellow worshippers, ‘I could not help thinking that there was a strong possibility…that eight out of ten people in that sanctuary – my brothers and sisters in my community of faith – had voted for the new president-elect’.

This book, dedicated to the 19% of evangelicals who never voted for Trump, is an attempt to explain how so many devout Christians came to vote for the monstrous human being who is Donald Trump, someone without out even a cursory knowledge of the tenets of their faith, and why so many of them continue to support him even today. What can we learn from his account?

A useful starting point is the post-Second World War ‘religious revival’ that took place in the United States. As he points out, while the US population grew by 19% between 1945 and 1960, church attendance grew by 30%. Indeed, ‘by 1960, 69 percent of Americans belonged to a church or synagogue’. 

Nothing like this occurred in any other Western country. It is a major historical phenomenon that has to be grasped if the contemporary United States is to be understood. In 1900 only 36% of Americans claimed to be members of a church, rising to 49% by 1940, followed by Fea’s great ‘religious revival’. This revival did not just happen by chance, it was not some sort of natural phenomenon and it was certainly not divinely inspired. Rather, the American ruling class sponsored a massive pro-Capitalism propaganda offensive that had Christianity at its centre. Christianity was pro-Capitalist and America was Christian. The scale of the propaganda offensive was enormous, the work of what has been called ‘the spiritual-industrial complex’, and it was tremendously effective.

Partly the Christian propaganda offensive was intended to mobilise the country against the threat of atheistic Communism, but as far as most US businessmen were concerned it was also intended to bring down the New Deal, to roll back such satanic abominations as old age pensions, the minimum wage and unemployment pay, to cut taxes and to curb federal interference in business affairs. This agenda was wholeheartedly embraced by Christian clergy across the country. The US Advertising Council launched ‘Religion in American Life’ campaign that in 1949 placed 2,200 ads urging church attendance in US newspapers, rising to 9,700 in 1956. In 1956, the campaign erected 5,412 billboards alongside major highways, put up 9,857 posters in bus and railway stations and 59,590 on buses and trains. The church attendance campaign was on the radio, on TV, it permeated everywhere, even Hollywood got into the act. And one of the religious leaders who emerged as the most determined champions of capitalism was Billy Graham. As he told one appreciative audience in 1952, there were no trade unions in heaven!

The election of Dwight Eisenhower as President was one of the political consequences of this Christian propaganda offensive. He very publicly embraced the trappings of Christianity (he was actually baptised in office!), adding the phrases ‘In God We Trust’ to the currency and ‘one nation, under God’ to the Pledge of Allegiance. What Eisenhower did not do, however, was dismantle the welfare reforms of the New Deal. They were too popular. Graham gave his full support to Eisenhower and was particularly impressed by his Vice President, a certain Richard Nixon, describing him on one occasion as ‘the greatest Vice President in history’. When Nixon stood against Kennedy for the Presidency, Graham advised him to play the anti-Catholic card. He regarded Nixon as ‘God’s man to lead a Christian nation’ and remained his close confidante both before and after he became President, continuing to support him even as the Watergate scandal overwhelmed him. Indeed, according to left-wing journalist IF Stone, Graham was Nixon’s ‘Rasputin’, if somewhat ‘smoother’.

What we see in these years, however, is a Christian establishment very much subordinate to the Republican Party, very much in the role of cheerleaders rather than actually taking to the field themselves. This began to change in the 1960s and 1970s. It is in these decades that we begin to see the emergence of the New Christian Right. According to Fea, there were a number of factors that precipitated this development. Immigration was one with the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act ending the quota system that favoured North and West Europeans and allowing in immigrants from South and Central America and from Asia into the country. Another key issue was opposition to desegregation, in particular the threat that it posed to Bob Jones University and to Liberty University. This is something the Christian Right plays down today, insisting that it was abortion that was the decisive issue forcing them to go into politics. The weapon they chose to advance their agenda was Fear: Christian America was under attack from dark forces inspired by Satan, under attack from secular humanism! As Fea puts it, ‘Fear is the political language conservative evangelicals know best’. The Christian Right began a protracted culture war, intent on rolling back the liberatory cultural changes that had began to manifest in the 1960s.

In 1979, Jerry Falwell set up the Moral Majority to coordinate the Christian campaign against the fruits of secular humanism: abortion, pornography, homosexuality, feminism and the exclusion of Christianity from schools. The campaign was so successful that the following year, Falwell was a big influence in ‘shaping the 1980 Republican platform’. Even at this early stage, while the Christian Right was committed to gaining control of Congress and the Presidency, as far as they were concerned ‘the control of the Supreme Court is essential’. This movement, despite its ups and downs, and its’ different guises has remained a decisive force on the Right of US politics, a force that Republican candidates for office have had to placate. Even John McCain, who at one time had made clear his contempt for the Christian Right, in the end had to acknowledge their power by speaking at Liberty University and appointing Sarah Palin as his candidate for Vice President in 2008. She was pointedly not invited to his funeral this year. Nevertheless, the Christian Right felt that it was consistently let down by the men it helped elect into office, that Ronald Reagan and George W Bush, whatever their public expressions of piety and no matter what bones they threw to their Christian Right supporters, in the end they failed to decisively confront and overthrow the threat of secular humanism. Indeed, the threat had only grown, become more and more serious, so that by 2016 there was a real danger that Christian America might be lost forever with all the dreadful consequences that would follow, not least Divine Retribution.

Why did the Christian Right turn to Donald Trump in 2016? There were a host of evangelical candidates for the Republican nomination, all of whom knew their Bible and had strong evangelical credentials, but they chose Donald Trump. Three factors were arguably decisive in persuading the leaders of the Christian Right to embrace a bullying, selfish, profoundly ignorant, semi-literate sexual predator without a Christian bone in his body. According to Fea, what was decisive was Trump’s release of ‘the names of eleven judges whom he said he would consider nominating to the Supreme Court’. He was as far as they were concerned their ‘last-ditch attempt…to win the culture wars’. The second factor was the nomination of a committed evangelical Mike Pence as candidate for the Vice Presidency. And third, there was his promise of uncompromising support for Israel.

What was essentially a backroom deal between Trump’s people, as we now know a collection of crooks, fraudsters and conmen, and the leaders of the Christian Right, arguably not much better, was sold to their followers in three ways. First they were told that whatever he might have been in the past, Trump was ‘born again’, was now a true Christian. For those not gullible enough to fall for this, his personal character and lack of any taint of Christianity did not matter because God had chosen him to defend the faithful regardless. Isaiah 45 was the key text where Cyrus the Great is enlisted to do God’s work even though he is a brutal, pagan despot. And lastly there was the enormity of the threat to Christian America posed by a Clinton Presidency. Obama, whom many evangelicals seriously believed was a secret Muslim (in 2015 43% of Republicans polled believed this), let alone a Kenyan, as far as the Christian Right was concerned had prepared the way for the final triumph of secular humanism in the guise of Hillary Clinton. On the more extreme fringes of the Christian Right, Hillary Clinton was seen as demonically inspired, personally involved in the rape of hundreds of children, before sacrificing them to Baal. While in Britain, these are people you would try to avoid sitting next to on the bus or down the pub, in the US, it is worth remembering, there are a lot more of them and they are usually heavily armed. One particular real threat that exercised the Christian Right, however, was that a Clinton administration would withhold federal funds to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars from Christian colleges, most notably Liberty University, that refused to employ gay staff. Just for the record, the current president of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Junior, has actually urged students to get permits to carry concealed firearms!

With the support of the Christian Right, Trump won. He is in the process of handing the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court over to the Christian Right, and he has recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, an essential part of Christian Right eschatology. He has surrounded himself  with people whom Fea describes as no better than ‘Court Evangelicals’, an assembly of evangelical pastors ready to defend his every utterance, his every action. Among the most prominent is Paula White, credited by many evangelicals with actually bringing Trump to God. She is a proponent of the ‘prosperity gospel’ that celebrates wealth and the wealthy. One can see why Trump finds this  doctrine amenable. One anecdote is enough to capture the essence of her particular school of Christianity: in 2016 she preached a sermon from John 11:44 regarding the raising of Lazarus from the dead. She went on to tell her followers that God had told her to tell them that they too could overcome life’s difficulties ‘if they would only “sow the seed of faith” in the form of a $1144 donation to her ministry… Those who donated would receive an anointed “prayer cloth” that would bring “signs and wonders” to their lives’. These people are themselves completely without shame so it is hardly a surprise that they continue to support Trump.

Fea hopes that the period of Christian Right dominance is coming to an end, that their hold over the evangelical movement is weakening. He looks to growing numbers of young evangelicals turning against Trump and what he stands for, rejecting the culture wars and the politics of Fear. It has to be said that at the time of writing there is little sign of this, although it is vitally important to always remember that there are and indeed always have been many liberal, even radical evangelicals. For the time being his book is a very useful contribution to our understanding of the Christian Right.

John Newsinger