The True and Only Heaven; SBC Nativists, Oil and President Carter
In 1993 in Birmingham at a Cooperative Baptist function in a press pool I asked President Carter about Tom Edsall's aside in his 84 New Politics of Inequality how the independent oilmen of Texas, OK, and La rallied to give him political hell in the 78 midterms. Edsall said it was the strategic financing of these groups going back to Joe McCarthy that kept the right wing in play in national politics.
The fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention that coincided with President Carter's ascendancy and helped lead to his defeat in 1980 was spearheaded by a son of a Vice President of Exxon Oil whose families rightwing politics ran deep. Paul Pressler was Bush 41 nominee to head the US Office of Govt Ethics in 1990 or so. Pressler was surrounded by right wing activists in the takeover the likes of Bircher Albert Lee Smith, Jesse Helms the Baptist racist Senator of NC, and Adrian Rogers's Memphis church person of influence Ed McAteer; not to mention the cabal that marinated FBC Dallas WA Criswell whose current pastor Jeffress is supporting Donald Trump.
President Carter on that day in 93 said he would have to think about all that.
Wuthnow's book Rough Country, is good parallel piece to Nigut's interview Sunday. How Lee Atwater perfected these right wing resentments of race and abortion and class struggle to benefit the interests of Pressler and his right wingers.
Ironically the nativism of Pressler and fundy appeal is the downside of President Carter's ideologue almost in residence during his Presidency, Christopher Lasch.
I remember having a discussion of this in passing several years ago with David Shi, former Furman President and chair of Davidson History Department. Shi graduated from HS in the Atlanta vicinity in 69--he did see Janis Joplin at the rock concert south of Atlanta July 5 that year--and considers Lasch a key influence on his intellectual and academic journey. The Shi Sustainability Project at Furman apparently has origins in Lasch and the better though misunderstood visions of President Carter.
A small suggestion. Would be great for Nigut and Two Way Street to come back to this conversation with Shi and fellow contemporary Atlanta native Doug Cumming, son of 60s Newsweek Bureau chief Joe Cumming.
They can enlarge the frame of the legacy of Jimmy Carter, and the politics of the time and as add on discuss the legacy of Marshall Frady. Both of them great fans of Frady. Maybe they could channel what Furman grad and the greatest social justice journalist of the last half of the 20th Century would have to say about all this.
Now that would be a great conversation for sure.