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The Making of Working-Class Religion$
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Matthew Pehl

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040429

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040429.001.0001

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Making Worker Religion in the New Deal Era

Making Worker Religion in the New Deal Era

(p.78) 3. Making Worker Religion in the New Deal Era
The Making of Working-Class Religion

Matthew Pehl

University of Illinois Press

This chapter explores the making of worker religion. The process of creating worker religion was contentious, divisive, and often measured or incomplete. Nevertheless, worker religion opened new imaginative possibilities for fusing religious, political, and class consciousness within the context of the labor movement. However, the ultimate social effects of this religiosity remained contested and ambiguous. Opponents viewed worker religion as far too modernist, far too pluralistic, and far too close to the orbits of communism and radicalism. Worker religion, in fact, came to be seen by its adversaries as a type of antireligion, insidiously eating away the foundations of the “true” faith. Ultimately, with Detroit transformed by a massive southern diaspora, and with racial conflict exacerbated by the exigencies of war, the political shape of working-class religions suddenly loomed as one of the most urgent cultural issues in the struggle for democracy.

Keywords:   worker religion, labor movement, communism, radicalism, antireligion, racial conflict, working-class religions

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