The Portland Center for Public Humanities at PSU presents a lecture by Matt Sutton, "Was FDR the Antichrist? The Birth of Fundamentalist Anti-liberalism in a Global Age."
Thursday, April 7, 6 p.m.
Smith Memorial Student Union, 294
In the 1930s, American fundamentalists began reading their Bibles with a new sense of urgency. With Hitler methodically persecuting Christians and Jews, Mussolini planning the long-anticipated restoration of the Roman Empire, record numbers of Jews returning to Zion, and a worldwide economic depression, the end of days had seemingly commenced. The possible fulfillment of ancient prophecies in Europe and the Middle East colored fundamentalist interpretations of international developments, and more important, shaped their understandings of political events in the United States. Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal quickly emerged as the object of their most intense domestic scrutiny. Fundamentalists sensed something sinister in the thirty-second president. His consolidation of power, his controversial policies, and his internationalist sensibilities seemed consistent with biblical descriptions of politics and international relations in the last days. As a result, fundamentalists did not interpret the growth of the modern liberal state in the U.S. as a reasonable response to the growing global economic depression but instead viewed it in conjunction with Mussolini’s visions of empire and Hitler’s anti-Semitism. In short, fundamentalists across the continent came to believe that New Deal liberalism was the means by which the U.S. would join the legions of the Antichrist.
Dr. Matt Sutton is an associate professor of History at the Washington State University. His first book, Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America published in(2007), won the Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize from Harvard University Press, awarded annually to the best book in any discipline by a first-time author. His current book project, tentatively entitled American Evangelicals and the Politics of Apocalypse examines the relationships among American evangelicalism, apocalyptic thought, and political activism during times of national crisis and war.