Religious Reading Mobilized

Matthew S. Hedstrom

in The Rise of Liberal Religion

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780195374490
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979141 | DOI:
Religious Reading Mobilized

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World War II pushed the American middle class in new directions religiously. For decades liberal Protestants had been working to craft a modern, nonsectarian spirituality, a faith suitable for an increasingly urbanized, scientific, and consumer-oriented society. They did this work largely for their own purposes, energized in equal measure by hope and fear regarding the changes they witnessed around them. But during World War II these liberal Protestant ambitions became national priorities. As part of the national mobilization for war, the publishing industry created the Council on Books in Wartime and produced over 100 million books in special Armed Services Editions. This massive publishing and book promotion enterprise was bolstered by government support and propaganda, including the Victory Book Campaign and its poster art, to socialize a generation of men and women into the practices of reading. Pat Beaird of Abingdon-Cokesbury, a Methodist publishing house, coordinated the work of the Council with religious publishers, and became a leading spokesman on issues related to religion, reading, and the war effort.

Keywords: council on books in wartime; armed services editions; World War II; mobilization; pat beaird victory; book campaign; poster art; propaganda

Chapter.  11750 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religious Studies

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