God and Man in Business, ca. 1930s14 December 2011
Historical studies about American evangelicals in business can feel a little few and far between. Outside of biographies of tycoons like Andrew Carnegie, few important works arise. So I was happy to see that Church History published an article on R.G. LeTourneau, a New Deal era evangelical who tried to hold onto long-held ideals capitalistic Christianity during the expansion of the federal government. Here’s the punchline:
Just as it would be a mistake to ignore LeTourneau’s conventionality within right-wing Depression and World War II-era business and politics, it would be misguided to minimize his distinctiveness as an evangelical. He was God’s business man, not just any business man. His answer to the New Deal was not simply a shrinking state, but a revival that would put a fallen nation back on good terms with its creator. . . . In this light, revivalism was not apolitical. Revivalism was politics (Sarah R. Hammond, “‘God Is My Partner’: An Evangelical Business Man Confronts Depression and War, Church History 80:3 [Sept 2011]: 519).