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Long before the red state/blue state divide, Americans have tended to think of the South as a natural home to and birthplace of Christian fundamentalism. Despite historical evidence and scholarly research to the contrary, the view of the South as a fundamentalist center persists. Rethinking Zion documents the process by which the South received its fundamentalist label and chronicles the forces at work in creating the image of the South as the Bible Belt. Mary Beth Swetnam Mathews places the discussion more squarely in the complex history of the print media. She argues that the idea of the South as fundamentalist sprang from long-held cultural observations and prejudices--both real and unfounded--that were developed long before the opening of the famous 1925 Scopes trial in Tennessee. She examines how the growth of the media in the early twentieth century played a crucial role in portraying the South as a violent, poorly educated, provincial region. By examining secular media sources, Mathews places the study of the influence of religion upon culture and culture upon religion in a broader context. A thought-provoking book, Rethinking Zion adds much to the study of existing literature on the rise of fundamentalism and is an important resource for scholars and students of southern history, religious history, and the history of journalism.
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