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episode eight

how’d we get here?

Over the course of the twentieth century, the United States realigned politically. The solid, Democratic white South became a solid, Republican white South. African Americans largely moved from identifying with the Republican Party to the Democratic Party. White evangelicals, who had not been consistently identified with one party (owing, in part, to regional differences) became a key voting bloc for the Republicans. In this episode, we are going to explore why that realignment occurred and what it might tell us about what Christians of different races prioritize and how they think about the problem of racism in the United States.

Key Questions:

  1. What factors drove the political realignments of the twentieth century?
  2. Why do white evangelicals and black Protestants vote so differently?

Reflection Questions:

  1. What, in this episode, most surprised or challenged you?
  2. Sarah claims that understanding the history of twentieth century political realignment helps us understand our current political moment better. Do you agree? What, if anything, does this history illuminate for you?
  3. What do you think are the most significant issues facing the country today? What do you vote on (if you vote)? How do you make those decisions?
  4. At the end of this video, Sarah argues that racism is a systemic social ill in the United States? Do you agree with her? Why or why not? If she is right, what does that mean for you?

references and sources

photo attributions

primary sources

2016 VOTER Survey, Top Lines and Cross-Tabs (esp. page 304),

Anyabwile, Thabiti. “Overturning Roe v. Wade Isn’t Worth Compromising with Trump, My Fellow Evangelicals,”The Washington Post, 28 June 2018,

Richards, John C. Jr.. “Brett Kavanaugh Is a Troubling Supreme Court Pick for Black Christians, Christianity Today, 11 July 2018,

Ronald Reagan at Nebosha County Fair,

Secondary Sources

Balmer, Randall. “The Real Origins of the Religious Right,” Politico Magazine, 27 May 2014,

Dochuk, Darren. From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism. 1st ed. W. W. Norton & Company, 2012.

Dowland, Seth. Family Values and the Rise of the Christian Right. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.

Sabato, Larry, “How Goldwater Changed Campaigns Forever,” Politico Magazine, 27 October 2014,

Williams, Daniel K. Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-Life Movement Before Roe V. Wade.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

———. God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right. Reprint edition. New York:  Oxford University Press, 2012.