This chapter traces the interaction of some of the earliest Protestant and Catholic supporters of the eugenics movement, and describes the earliest efforts to form an institutional eugenics movement. Ministers such as Rev. Oscar Carleton McCulloch and Samuel Zane Batten, for example, married Protestant Social Gospel rhetoric with eugenic sentiment in their efforts to control the “menace of the feebleminded” through social policies. Their efforts were mirrored by those of two prominent British Protestant ministers, Rev. Frederick Brotherton Meyer and Rev. James H.F. Peile. At the same time, biologist Charles Davenport was beginning to develop eugenics institutions such as the Eugenics Record Office, trying to control a movement that had already gained a number of amateur enthusiasts who published books and tracts supporting eugenics — many of which invoked biblical justification for eugenic science. Finally, this chapter explores early debates among Catholics such as Fr. Stephen M. Donovan, Msgr. Jules DeBecker, and Father Thomas Gerrard about eugenic sterilization of the feebleminded.
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