Publication Date

Spring 2017

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Tamara Van Dyken (Director), Patricia Minter, and Carol Crowe-Carraco

Degree Program

Department of History

Degree Type

Master of Arts


From the late 1970s through the early 1990s, a minority conservative faction took over the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). This project seeks to answer the questions of how a fringe minority within the nation’s largest Protestant denomination could undertake such a feat and why they chose to do so. The framework through which this work analyzes these questions is one of competing worldviews that emerged within the SBC in response to decades of societal shifts and denominational transformations in the post-World War II era. To place the events of the Southern Baptist “crisis” within this framework, this study seeks to refute the prevailing notion put forth in earlier works that the takeover was an in-house event, driven purely by doctrinal disputes between conservative Southern Baptists and SBC leadership. Illustrating the differences between rhetoric and action on both sides of this intra-denominational conflict, this work seeks to provide perspective to the narrative of the Southern Baptist “crisis” by asserting that the worldviews guiding the opposing factions diverged not only on doctrine, but culture and politics as well. Placing the events of the “crisis” within the context of broader worldviews, this project highlights and examines the intertwined nature of religion, culture, and politics in modern American society.


Christianity | Cultural History | History of Religion | New Religious Movements