Religion of Fear: The Politics of Horror in Conservative Evangelicalism

Synopsis

Conservative evangelicalism has transformed American politics, working not just through conventional channels, but through subcultures and alternate modes of communication. Within the world of conservative evangelicalism is a "Religion of Fear," a critical impulse that dramatizes cultural andpolitical issues in frightening ways that contrast "orthodox" behaviors and beliefs with those linked to darkness, fear, and demonology. Jason C. Bivins offers close examinations of several popular evangelical cultural creations including the Left Behind novels, church-sponsored Halloween "Hell Houses," Jack Chick's sensational comic tracts, and anti-rock and rap rhetoric and censorship. Bivins depicts these fascinating and often troubling phenomena in vivid detail and shows how they seek to shape evangelical cultural and political identity. Interestingly, he shows that these narratives offear also reveal a strong attraction to and dependence on the very things that are being forbidden. Bivins also describes the steady normalization of such fear narratives in recent decades, a trend he claims bodes ill for American politics. The Religion of Fear is a significant contribution to ourunderstanding of the new shapes of political religion, of American evangelicalism, of the relation of religion and the media, and of the link between religious pop culture and politics.