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“Maintenance of the Institution”

9 September 2011

This was first published in 1937. Plug in “heterosexual marriage” or “right to life” and you get modern conservative Christianity.

…One of the parties which called for the application of Christianity to the social life had in mind above all the conservation and extension of American political and ecclesiastical institutions…Now they often seemed less interested in the worker than in winning him to the church, that is, of using the social gospel as a means for the maintenance of the institution. As reformers they turned, when persuasion failed, to political means, in order that good social habits of temperance and Sabbath observance might be maintained. As propagandists they sought the extension of democratic institutions—if necessary by recourse to military force—in order that all the world might share in the blessings of the kingdom of God on earth.

H. Richard Niebuhr, The Kingdom of God in America (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1988), 183-184.

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