Thursday, September 19, 2013

Is "Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?" Unlikely "To Reach Most Evangelicals"?

This week's Books & Culture podcast focuses on Roger Lundin's new edited collection, Christ Across the DisciplinesDavid Bebbington wrote the essay on the discipline of history.

Listen here.

John Schmalzbauer wrote the essay on sociology. In it he mentions my work on religion and the American founding.  He writes:

Addressing a popular audience, historian John Fea has written Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?, a careful effort to get at the role of faith in the American founding.  Unfortunately, a book from Westminster/John Knox is unlikely to reach most evangelicals.  Far more effective was Baylor historian Thomas Kidd's appearance on the Glenn Beck show.  A student of [George Marsden], Kidd bridges the gap between professional historians and ordinary evangelicals, 48 percent of whom admire Beck...."

I was a bit surprised at Schmalzbauer's remark about my book failing to reach evangelicals, but maybe I am just feeling too defensive.  Granted, Westminster/John Knox is not an evangelical publisher, but I don't think this has prevented the book from making inroads among evangelicals.  (For the record, the book proposal was rejected by every major evangelical publisher including Baker, Brazos, Eerdmans, and InterVarsity Press).

Is Schmalzbauer right about the limited reach of Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?  What do you think?  Any thoughts--either here or on Facebook (you will need to friend me first)--would be much appreciated.