G OD ’ S C OUNTRY \the0faithful0sun0belt| Nathan A. Finn From Bible Belt to Sun Belt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism, by Darren Dochuk. Norton, 2011.
uch has been written about the Religious Right in the past three decades, including numerous histor‐ ical monographs. Most of the useful early histori‐ cal studies were critical biographies focusing upon key leaders or scholarly essays in journals or pub‐ lished anthologies. Far more common were the Chicken Little as‐ sessments offered by leftwing scholars, many of which posed as seri‐ ous historical studies. Few scholars attempted to interpret the general history of the movement, in part because of a combination of polemi‐ cal intentions, the refusal of some major figures to participate in in‐ terviews with researchers (most notably James Dobson), and minimal access to some of the key primary sources necessary to undertake such a work. Rice University sociologist William Martin made the best attempt toward a scholarly history with his With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America, an even‐handed narra‐ tive study that served as a companion to the award‐winning PBS documentary of the same name. After pundits argued the 2004 presidential election was decided by so‐called Values Voters, a new spate of articles and books flooded the market. Some of the more recent works are quite helpful. A revised and expanded version of With God on Our Side was released in 2005. Historians such as Richard Hughes, Randall Balmer, and Kim Phil‐ lips‐Fein added varying degrees of nuance to earlier studies. But as before, most of the new books and articles were attack pieces dis‐ guised as scholarly tomes. Few offered new insights into the origins of the Religious Right; most were far more concerned with what they understood to be the detrimental effects of the movement in the pre‐ 76