American Religion at Floodtide
It might be said that the churches, agonized and shamed by their sectionalism and division, greeted World War I with relief. Here, confronting a foreign enemy, was a good cause on which they could co-operate again with a will. That they did so, enthusiastically and uncritically, is a matter of record. Ray Abram Preachers Present Arms ( 1933) has documented the way in which thousands of preachers identified American national purpose with the Gospel of Christ. The strange ambivalence of American foreign policy, swinging between isolationism and the crusade, was dramatically illustrated in the support given Woodrow Wilson, Christian, who tried to keep us out of the war (aided by the pacifist, William Jennings Bryan) and then turned American energy "to make the world safe for democracy" (aided by Robert Lansing, a new Secretary of State, with another point of view). The myth of the New World, drawn out and away from the European "Egypt" of power politics, class discrimination, and ceaseless warring, which the churches have done so much to create, has come to afford little assistance in girding America for the long, tedious, day-to-day business of responsible leadership in a complex world scene.