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Founders Annual Lecture in Comparative Religion and Contemporary Life, will be presented by Prof. Matthew Sutton, Prof. of History at Washington State University.
Sutton’s research explores the twentieth-century history of Christian apocalyptic thought in the United States. His talk will focus on the ways in which international events including the World Wars and the global economic depression of the 1930s fueled American fundamentalists’ fears of Armageddon. These fears in turn shaped fundamentalists’ opposition to Franklin Roosevelt and New Deal liberalism, driving them to the political right. Finally, Sutton suggests that the apocalyptic anxieties the fueled fundamentalist hostility to FDR may well be playing a role in the 2012 presidential campaign.
Sutton’s first book, “Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America” (Harvard University Press, 2007), won the Thomas J. Wilson Memorial Prize from Harvard University Press, awarded annually to the best book in any discipline by a first-time author. The book also served as the basis for the Public Broadcasting Service documentary Sister Aimee, part of PBS’s American Experience series. Sutton has been featured on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition among many other news shows. He has an article forthcoming in the Journal of American History entitled “Was FDR the Antichrist? The Birth of Fundamentalist Anti-liberalism in a Global Age,” and has previously published articles in Church History, the Journal of Policy History, and the Public Historian. He has received research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Sutton has also written for the New York Times.

Sutton’s current book project, tentatively entitled American Evangelicals and the Politics of Apocalypse (Harvard University Press) examines relationships among American evangelicalism, apocalyptic thought, and political activism during times of national crisis and war. He is also completing a textbook, Jerry Falwell and the Origins of the Religious Right, which will be part of the popular Bedford “History and Culture” series (Bedford/St. Martin’s).