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date: 16 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

With a flash of fresh insight that historians now consider strikingly prescient, Newsweek declared 1976 the “year of the evangelical.” Amid bicentennial celebrations and Jimmy Carter's campaign for the fall election, evangelicals seemed to be everywhere, thinking, talking, and acting as a new cultural force in modern America. Other major periodicals, most notably Time and the New York Times, reported on the ascent of evangelicalism. Evangelicalism's rise, the press emphasized, was the product of a “power shift” in American society away from the urban centers of the “Rustbelt” Northeast and Midwest to the sprawling metroplexes of the emerging “Sunbelt” South. This article looks at the rise of evangelicalism in America during the 1970s and demonstrates how media portrayals of it became catch-all critiques of society. It shows that pundits reached no consensus in their appraisal of America's 1970s turn, but agreed that as Sunbelt evangelicalism went, so would go the nation.

Keywords: evangelicalism, America, Sunbelt, Newsweek, Time, New York Times, press, media

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