Sex and American Christianity: The Religious Divides that Fractured a Nation

Sex and American Christianity: Religious Divides that Fractured a Nation

Gay marriage, transgender rights, birth control — sex is at the heart of many of the most divisive political issues of our age. The origins of these conflicts, according to historian Marie Griffith, lies in the sharp disagreements that emerged among American Christians a century ago.

From the 1920s onward, a once-solid Christian consensus regarding gender roles and sexual morality began to crumble, as liberal Protestants sparred with fundamentalists and Catholics over questions of obscenity, sex education and abortion. Both those who advocated for greater openness in sexual matters and those who resisted new sexual norms turned to politics to pursue their moral visions for the nation.

Join us for a conversation with Marie Griffith as she speaks on her new book, "Moral Combat," and discusses the history of how the Christian consensus on sex unraveled, and how this unraveling has made our political battles over sex so ferocious and so intractable.


R. Marie Griffith, the John C. Danforth Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis, is currently the director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics and the editor of the Center’s journal, Religion & Politics.

Professor Griffith obtained her undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia in Political and Social Thought and her doctorate in the study of religion from Harvard University. Before moving to Washington University in 2011, she served as professor of religion and director of the women and gender studies program at Princeton University and later as the John A. Bartlet Professor of New England Church History at Harvard. She is the author or editor of six books, including "God’s Daughters: Evangelical Women and the Power of Submission" (1997) and the newly released "Moral Combat: How Sex Divided American Christians and Fractured American Politics" (2017).

Griffith’s research focuses on current issues pertaining to religion and politics, including the changing profile of American evangelicals and ongoing conflicts over gender, sexuality, and marriage.

Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict
Mar 15 2018 - 5:00pm
Marston Theater, ISTB 4
Tempe campus