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Homespun GospelThe Triumph of Sentimentality in Contemporary American Evangelicalism$
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Todd M. Brenneman

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199988983

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199988983.001.0001

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America Looks Up: Sentimentality, Politics, and American Evangelicalism

America Looks Up: Sentimentality, Politics, and American Evangelicalism

(p.113) 4 America Looks Up: Sentimentality, Politics, and American Evangelicalism
Homespun Gospel

Todd M. Brenneman

Oxford University Press

With the rise of a contemporary evangelical presence in politics, evangelicals have turned to emotion to shape that presence. Sentimentality, particularly, has provided the authority to be involved in politics while also enabling evangelicals to downplay their political aspirations. Fear has also been a useful emotional tool for evangelicals, but it is often combined with sentimentality or founded on it. Sentimentality has also been useful in evangelical social action to mobilize evangelicals to be active in politics as evangelicals or politicians focus on crafting the domestic sphere—especially marriage and children—as something needing prevention playing on sentiment, nostalgia, and religious fear to shape the policy of the United States. Yet sentimental rhetoric often participates in the obfuscation of structural issues at work in society, making sentimentality ineffective as a long-term plan for social transformation for evangelicals.

Keywords:   Sentimentality, Politics, Evangelical social action, Religious fear, Obfuscation

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