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Publication: Church History
Date published:
Language: English
PMID: 29101
ISSN: 00096407
Journal code: PCHH

ON September 27, 1 940, radio listeners across North America tuned into "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" to hear R. G. LeTourneau, who designed and manufactured moving equipment, discuss the financial rewards of his evangelical faith.1 The program opened with a fictional dialogue between LeTourneau, playing his younger self, and a colleague incredulous that God is their chief stakeholder. "The time . . . December 1929, just after the memorable Wall Street crash," the narrator intoned. "The place - the office of a small factory in Stockton, California. The owner of the plant is talking with his assistant. They face the unhappy prospect of bankruptcy." LeTourneau says that he intends to spend his savings on "one obligation - my missionary pledge." The assistant gasps, "What?" LeTourneau is adamant: 'T told God that as long as I had a dime I would pay that missionary pledge." Introducing the punch line that made LeTourneau a minor celebrity, the assistant cries, "Why, that's actually making God - your partner!!!" LeTourneau says, "Yes, I shall make God a partner in my business." He would henceforth serve both God and mammon by setting aside 90 percent of his salary and company profits for evangelical causes. "You have made the word of God a glorious, practical reality," program host Robert Ripley told his guest, then turned to the audience with his own trademark flourish. "And of such is the work of faith . . . Believe It Or Not."2

"Believe It Or Not" is an apt phrase for the unsung story of business men such as LeTourneau who financed and mobilized theologically conservative white evangelicals, especially fundamentalists, during the Depression and World War II.3 LeToumeau's star rum on "Ripley" challenges a historiography of fundamentalism that focuses on preachers, full-time evangelists, and theologians who drew sharp rhetorical lines between believers and "the world."4 This scholarship, exemplified by the deservedly canonical early work of George Marsden and Joel Carpenter, depicts a vibrant, proselytizing, yet deeply insular Protestant subculture whose members viewed the public sphere - "the world" of politics and hedonistic consumption - in opposition to doctrinal correctness and behavioral purity.5 Even as fundamentalists appropriated dress, slang, music, and other aspects of the culture they wished to convert, they rigidly policed the boundaries. The world, in this account, dismissed the broad canopy of evangelicalism as a pre-modem phenomenon doomed to extinction.6 Why, then, did a prominent evangelical executive appear on Ripley's secular and frequently scandalous program, sharing the airwaves with Siamese twins and Indian firewalkers?7 Stranger still, why did Ripley treat LeToumeau's faith as vital and heroic rather than a fossilized freak show? One answer was that LeToumeau's religiously fueled success in business offered a timely rejoinder to Franklin D, Roosevelt's programs for revitalizing the economy. After a decade of wrenching poverty when the federal government touched more Americans' lives than ever before, Ripley and LeTourneau colluded on a classically evangelical vision of a good society built on the relationship between each individual and God. "The minute I started that partnership, business boomed," LeTourneau told Ripley. The host applauded, "Mr. LeTourneau, in these troubled times, you are a magnificent example to those of Utile faith."8 With personal faith triumphing over the Depression, it was as if the New Deal had never happened.

A burgeoning scholarship suggests that students of American religion have overemphasized the parochialism of white mid-twentieth-eentury evangelicals and, as a result, overlooked evangelical engagement with multi-faith or formally secular public spheres.9 Evangelical reaction against and adaptation to the New Deal state are central to this emerging argument. Alison Collis Greene chronicles the ambivalent relief that some pastors in the Mississippi Delta felt when the government took over charitable activities that churches could no longer sustain. Darren Dochuk describes how white southern migration shaped the religious and entrepreneurial character of the Sunbelt, where an individualistic ethos coexisted with government largesse. Daniel K. Williams and Steven P. Miller trace evangelical activism within the Republican Party: From a business history perspective, Kim Phillips-Fein shows the anti-New Deal roots of the broader conservative movement. Bethany Moreton and Darren Grem analyze the intersections of evangelical Christianity and postindustriai capitalism.10

R. G. LeToumeau's career in the 1930s and early 1940s fleshes out several dimensions of this historiographical revisionism.11 First, the time period enriches the post-World War ? emphasis of much recent writing on evangelicalism while reconceptualizing the Depression years that even some new scholarship treats as politically fallow.12 Second, as a business man, LeTourneau draws attention to an understudied group of laity who functioned as ambassadors between evangelical subcultures and "the world." Work, not worship, was me primary site where business men practiced evangelicalism within the homogenizing norms of a pluralistic civil society. A widely held middle-class belief in the essential Christianity of capitalism forged common ground with figures such as Ripley rather than relegating evangelicals to the margins of American life. LeToumeau's motto, "God is My Partner," celebrated the icon of the self-made man and the conservative politics that went with it, holding individuals responsible for their fate regardless of socioeconomic circumstances.13 To be God's partner was to adhere to a contractual theology as old as biblical Israel and as binding as a modem commercial agreement. In return for obethence, God endowed business men with shrewdness, pragmatism, and profits. Likewise, God punished the faithless on their balance sheets. Representing a putatively otherworldly religious milieu, LeTourneau was significant for embodying a Weberian breed of evangelical whose very worldliness was a defining spiritual credential.14

This article embeds LeTourneau in the context in which he learned how to be an evangelical business man, with the state serving as both an antagonist and a silent partner. It sketches his peripatetic path to a career designing earthmoving equipment for private and public sector projects to build roads, bridges, and dams - the connective tissue of industrialization. As LeTourneau moved manufacturing hubs from California to the Midwest and the South, he cultivated powerful political allies, and simultaneously benefited from and decried the growth of the federal government under Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, like non-evangelical conservatives, he denied that human intervention in the marketplace could restore the nation to prosperity. His solution, which many of his co-religionists shared and which seemed plausible to Ripley, was a business-led evangelical revival.


LeToumeau's generation was a living link between culturally confident nineteenth-century evangelicalism and embattled twentieth-century fundamentalism. Robert Gilmour LeTourneau was bom in 1888 into a French-Canadian family with roots in the Plymouth Brethren, a transplanted British sect that balanced cultural separatism with business acumen. By the turn of the twentieth century, the Brethren and other evangelicals felt pressed to counter theological modernism, which treated the Bible as a human artifact instead of the literal word of God and concerned itself less with the redemption of individuals than with large-scale social reform.15 Transatlantic revivalist Dwight L. Moody was the most famous anti-modernist to adopt premillennialism, the Brethren-authored doctrine that evangelistic outreach was the only hope for a world hurtling toward apocalypse.16 LeTourneau internalized the magnitude of being in covenant with a God whose omnipotence trumped human will. He remembered visible markers of the Brethren's segregation from the world they were driven to save, in particular, the "prosperously dressed and bearded men" who gathered after services. 17

These bearded men - including LeToumeau's father, who was a farmer and a carpenter - were church elders, and part of a far-flung Plymouth Brethren business network that took the family westward from LeToumeau's birthplace in Vermont.18 He owed the formative years of his working life to denominational clannishness. An explosively energetic boy, impatient with book-learning and infatuated with machinery, he quit school in eighth grade, insisting that he was, at fourteen, a "man growed."19 It was 1902, and the LeToumeaus had moved to Portland, Oregon, at a church member's invitation.20 Portland was a boom town, with Midwestern farmers and German, Scandinavian, and Chinese immigrants feverishly industrializing the region.21

The LeTourneau parents yielded to their impetuous son and conspired with Brethren elders to catapult him into adult responsibilities.22 A "little, softvoiced" Englishman who owned the East Portland Iron Works hired LeTourneau to work dawn to dusk in the foundry. Under Mr. Hill's watchful eye, LeTourneau shunned alcohol and roughhousing and learned to use his precocious vocabulary to "cuss harder without swear words than any man" - a boast that established his masculine credentials within the bounds of evangelical propriety.23 Hill promoted the boy to apprenticeship, allowing him to use the machine shop after hours to experiment with new metals and alloys that were transforming the industry.24

HiIFs supervision and support kept LeTourneau within the Brethren fold but could not produce the conversion experience that would make the boy a true believer. At sixteen, during a weeklong urban revival, the prodigal son finally found Christ. "No bolts of lightning hit me. No great flash of awareness. I just prayed to the Lord to save me . . . [and] all of my bitterness was drained away, and I was filled with such a vast relief I could not contain it all."25 After fire destroyed the East Portland Iron Works at the end of 1905, LeTourneau moved to San Francisco, completing his apprenticeship in the aftermath of the 1 906 earthquake. His religious and business ambitions, like those of many British, Canadian, and American evangelicals, were bound up in missionary work. Having displaced native peoples and foreign colonizers to establish its continental borders, and won new territories in the Spanish-American War, the United States was an imperial power in its own right. The fast-growing foreign missionary movement interpreted unprecedented American access to dark-skinned lands in light of the Great Commission to "go ye into all the world and preach the gospel."26 Undeterred by the 1900 Boxer Rebellion, an anti-colonial revolt that targeted foreign proselytizers and Chinese converts, LeToumeau's sister Sarah was studying Chinese and raising money for the journey across the ocean. LeTourneau toyed with the idea of joining her and building a foundry that would expose its workers to evangelicalism.27 Notably, he did not believe that conversion automatically improved living standards. He doubted that "a lot of heathens have been converted to Christianity while slowly starving to death." Rather, seeing "[God's] power in better housing, food, and medical care" would bring them "eagerly" to Christ.28

If LeTourneau sometimes sounded like the theological modernists he despised, it was because his faith in God was inseparable from his faith in technological progress. Notwithstanding his premillennialist pessimism about an inexorably deteriorating world, he thrilled to the seemingly unlimited power of manufacturing. His years in California, from 1906 to 1935, put him at the forefront of dramatic changes in the physical landscape. He helped build a bridge from San Francisco to Stockton, then crossed it to become a car mechanic in 1909, thirteen years into the mass production of motorized vehicles in the United States.29 When his alcoholic business partner put the garage in debt, LeTourneau went to work for two brothers who sold enginepowered, rather than mule-driven, farm machinery. This innovation made California's post-World War I irrigation and highway-building projects possible, as well as LeToumeau's career.30


LeTourneau felt on firm ground translating his faith into economic terms. "I like my machines and they work," he analogized. "And the Gospel of Jesus Christ works too."31 To work was to produce measurable results, and with religion as with machinery, LeTourneau was willing to try new approaches if the initial yield was poor. Because Stockton's Plymouth Brethren community was too small to sustain a church, LeTourneau and his young wife Evelyn joined the Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA), founded in 1 887 by a preacher whose passion for world evangelism grew out of his ministry to the poor in New York City.32 Soon, LeTourneau found himself banging the drum in an outdoor gospel band and hauling homeless alcoholics to the C&MA mission house. It was in 1919 - not, as Robert Ripley would have it, the fatal year of 1929 - that LeTourneau declared his partnership with God. When his missionary sister (one of two) accused him of caring more about business than Jesus, he consulted his pastor, who told him that "God needs business men as well as preachers and missionaries." LeTourneau replied with immense relief, "All right, if that is what God wants me to be, I'll try to be His business man."33 As Ripley would observe admiringly of LeToumeau's outsized philanthropy, being God's business man sometimes meant defying business conventions. In addition to donating considerable money and time to evangelical causes, it entailed maintaining a "Christian atmosphere" at work that subverted traditional male sociability, observing, if not necessarily enforcing, evangelical taboos against drinking, swearing, smoking, and overt sexuality.34

The partnership with God seemed off to a good start in 1 920, a year after LeTourneau left his employers to become an independent contractor. In his work crews, he made an effort to "attract a good Christian element," believing that Christians worked harder than "your toughest redneck[s]" and might even convert them.35 While he insisted that he never discriminated against the non-evangelicals he hoped to save, he sentimentalized faith as a bond between management and labor that could serve as an example for the church. "1 had a mighty loyal bunch of men," he said. "If all Christians could unite like that in their loyalty to the Lord" - an inadvertently revealing image of power and subordination, not equality - "this world wouldn't be in the mess it was in."36For the rest of the decade, he honed his managerial as well as his manufacturing skills.

With the exception of a 193 1 loss that he blamed on a lack of trust in God's provision, LeTourneau made his fortune during the Depression. His signal event of 1929 was not the stock market crash, which to many observers looked luce a short-term cyclical correction, but the legal incorporation of LeTourneau, Inc. with twenty employees and a product request from "backward Russia." 7 His reflexive anticoramunism did not stand in the way of international commerce. Nor was he loath to take advantage of stateside corporate welfare. In 1931, LeTourneau became the indirect recipient of federal money when a consortium for which he was a contractor won a government bid to build the Boulder Dam (later the Hoover Dam) in Colorado.38 The proof that he was doing God's will lay in his receipts. For example, in a confrontation with a creditor who believed in a seven-day workweek, LeTourneau held to his policy of honoring the sabbath by giving employees Sunday off. He made $207,237 in sales in 1932, almost doubling his total of $110,800 in 1930. In 1933, sales shot up to $379,100, and came close to tripling to $929,860 in 1934.39 His business was small by comparison with industry giants such as Caterpillar, Inc.40 Still, Caterpillar executives took notice of their up-and-coming rival, and agreed to be LeToumeau's national distributor. In April 1935, LeTourneau left the Stockton plant in family hands to build a factory near Caterpillar headquarters in Peoria, Illinois.41

After almost thirty years away from America's industrial and agricultural centers, LeTourneau wasted no time moving his partnership with God to a bigger stage. Peoria was about 1 30 miles from Chicago, making it a satellite of the nation's "Second City" of manufacturing and finance next to New York.42 Following the footsteps of Christian entrepreneurs before him, LeTourneau saw his growing wealth as a platform that made evangelism more than a personal or business commitment, but a civic duty. His success would show Depressionera America that revival was the only road to economic recovery. Between 1935, when he settled in Peoria, and 1938, when he made an even more pivotal expansion to Georgia, LeTourneau reinterpreted his role as an evangelical business man in three career-defining ways: first, becoming a public speaker; second, institutionalizing conservative Protestantism in labor-management relations; and third, establishing the LeTourneau Evangelistic Foundation to apply most of his profits to Christian work. As skyrocketing sales cemented his faith in the free market and antagonism toward the regulatory power of the New Deal, he mixed politics with his preaching.

It was only fitting that LeTourneau launched his evangelistic career neither in church nor on a revival stump, but in the Peoria Chamber of Commerce, which invited its new member to speak in late 1935. He asked God "to give him the words," and God obliged with well-worn nostalgia for a golden age of American pluck and piety. "You may wonder what religion has to do with business, and I used to wonder about it myself," LeTourneau began. "Now I know that it was our forefathers' faith in God that made our country great . . . I believe we need to get back to that faith, and when we do, God will lead us out of the depression we've been in." The contractual theology that enabled LeTourneau and later Ripley to solve the economic crisis in a word, "faith," was both familiar and invigorating to this "business crowd," as was the American exceptionalism.43 Having called on business men to redeem the nation, LeTourneau argued that they must simultaneously redeem the church. He challenged laymen to take their rightful place beside clergy to make abstract truths concrete. "The preachers can tell us that Christianity works. They are God's salesmen, selling Christianity and the Christian way of life. But unless we business men . . . testify that Christianity is the driving power of our business, you'll always have doubters claiming that religion is all talk and no production."44 Clergy in the audience who struggled to get men involved in die historically feminine religious sphere must have been delighted by such gendered calls to arms.45

Along with the Chamber of Commerce, the churches of Peoria gave LeTourneau a springboard to a national evangelical stage. His reputation spread to congregations and business groups out of town, so he hired a gospel quartet and drove - or later, flew in a private jet - to engagements on evenings and weekends. Clergy-lay collaboration contained seeds of tension, as LeTourneau made clear when speaking among revivalist peers such as the Christian Business Men's Committee International, the Business Men's Evangelistic Clubs, and the Gideons, organizations that saw a providential role for business men in the church. "Just as God called the men of old to do certain things, I believe He is today making that call more especially to commercial men to witness that the Gospel is still the power of God unto salvation," he told the Gideons. "We commercial men have no conflict with preachers," but "when we laymen who rub shoulders with people in the world every day tell them that Jesus Christ is the solution to all our problems . . . they can't say of us as they sometimes say of the preachers, 'They get paid for it'"46 In one blow, LeTourneau dismissed ministers as out of touch with ordinary men and women and positioned business men as evangelicalism's envoys to "the world." Even though, in practice, pew and pulpit worked together to save souls, LeTourneau and his cohort held fast to the expectation of a lay-led revival.47 As producers and earners, business men gave skeptics hard evidence of God's faithfulness that sermons alone could not provide.

Most of LeToumeau's own sermons were inspirational lessons, "funny stories," or bootstraps-and-Bible tales of how to succeed in business. Titles included "Mental Attitude," "Right Religion," "Conference with the Lord," "Mechanical and Spiritual Progress," and "Run God's Business." Less often, but no less ardently, LeTourneau preached conservative politics. He attacked the New Deal's Works Products Administration and the National Recovery Administration, which, before being declared unconstitutional, regulated hours and wages, gave the government the power to force competing companies into cartels, and enshrined the right of workers to collective bargaining. Along the same lines, he excoriated "Higher Taxes and Redistribution," "Socialism -Theory," and "Class Hatred"; called "Labor Union[s] a Religion'"; and warned against "Dictators and Propaganda."48 He opined unoriginally that everyone "who doesn't like our way of doing business, and wants to teach us a new social order" should be thrown "by the seat of his pants ... on a boat bound for a land he does like."49 Although LeTourneau had minimal if any ties to organized opposition to the New Deal, such as the plutocratic American Liberty League and the National Association of Manufacturers, he joined a conservative chorus that Christianity and patriotism required limited government.50

As his sermon notes demonstrated, LeTourneau believed that the real-world opposite of "Christianity," from the global red menace to his own plants, was "communism." Anticommunism put evangelicals in the mainstream of American political discourse.51 Communism carried a string of interlocking associations: atheism, arrogance about human potential to improve society, and replacing individual initiative with collective control. For the political right wing, these philosophies culminated in a tyrannical state held hostage to the mob mie that employers had long attributed to labor unions.52 For premillennialists such as LeTourneau, the stakes for humanity were even higher. In their interpretation of the Bible, Russian aggression, manifested in Bolshevik ideology, was a sign of the end times. International politics -which premillennialists expected to culminate in the return of Jews, God's first chosen people, to Israel, God's first chosen land - was a map for impending apocalypse.53 Before most Americans were paying close attention to Germany and Italy, then, premillennialist clergy and laity were conflating communism, fascism, and anti-Semitism into a single Satanic enemy. The King's Business, the monthly magazine of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, had the New Deal in its sights from the start of Roosevelt's first term. In 1933, the editors culled dire warnings from mainstream publications to the Congressional Record to claim, "Russia has her Stalin . . . Germany has her Hitler; and impossible as it may seem, the United States of America has her Roosevelt!"54 Aside from their apocalyptic worldview, evangelicals who raised the alarm against concentrated political and economic power were indistinguishable from, if not visibly connected to, the rising libertarian, antiKeynesian, and Republican conservative movement.55

By 1936, LeTourneau was preaching to employees and publicizing these "shop talks" as signs of labor-management harmony. As early as his work on the Boulder Dam, he had welcomed a visiting evangelist to the worksite. He formalized the practice in Stockton, declaring that attendance was voluntary while paying on the clock everyone who came.56 LeTourneau handled the meetings when he was in town, using his religious platform to deal with business problems: "I Thank You for Your Loyalty," "Loyalty Means Sacrifice" (twice), "Loyalty Beautiful," "Loyalty is a Force," "Compel [Not] 1 Nor Christ."57 Individually, these snippets could mean anything; together, they indicated that LeTourneau feared worker loyalty to be very thin indeed. He had arrived in Peoria at a time when employers had to tread carefully. 1935 marked the third year of a manufacturing strike wave, John L. Lewis's founding of the militant Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), and the Wagner Act's protection of workers' right to organize.58 One management strategy was to treat management and labor as inherently opposed and boost profits by paying as little as possible for long hours of punishing work. Another possibility, paternalism, bound employer and employees together as a symbolic family in which the corporation determined its dependents' best interests. LeTourneau preferred a historically progressive third choice, welfare capitalism, which posited a mutually beneficial relationship between employer and employee on more equal ground than paternalism and with better working conditions than the autocratic model. Adopted by many employers after violent strikes in the wake of World War I, welfare capitalism combined competitive pay, benefits, and opportunities for advancement with companysponsored grievance channels, socializing, and recreation.59

LeToumeau's evangelical version of welfare capitalism co-opted the familial imagery of paternalism, casting him as an avuncular patriarch devoted to employees' spiritual and physical well-being. The shop talks were no mere ruse to pacify the workers with heavenly instead of earthly rewards. He believed that his partnership with God required him to proselytize the people God had put under his care, and he viewed the in-plant services as the most important benefit he provided. Like sick leave or safety inspections, which encouraged allegiance to the company, communal worship was both the right and the pragmatic thing to do. LeTourneau candidly described "better morale" as a "by-product" of his overriding goal "to get men to believe in Jesus Christ."60 His blind spot was his unwillingness to recognize that the power he held over his employees made some interpret shop talks as less than voluntary. When rumors swirled around the Peoria plant that professing Christians won more promotions than non-Christians, LeToumeau's retort that Christianity made him "fair and square" likely did little to quell unease.61

To publicize all of LeTourneau, Inc.'s good works, LeTourneau established a company magazine, NOW, named after 2 Corinthians 6:2: "Behold, NOW is the accepted time; behold, NOW is the day of salvation." He imagined the fourpage weekly newsletter as "not just a house organ to express my own views and company policy, but one that would also voice the message of the Lord I was trying to serve as a partner."62 His sister Marie's husband, tract writer Tom Olson, spun biblical allegories from inspirational stories and current events. By 1938, there were ten issues of NOW for every employee, and Olson distributed countless articles to evangelical groups and households.63

The cover of NOW usually displayed a machine at work or in progress, while the back page, "Plant Life," compiled personnel updates to make the company feel like a family. NOW chronicled LeToumeau's evangelistic traveling schedule and worker initiatives such as a Bible study organized by men on Peoria's night shift. Business news, though often mundane, drew attention to employee benefits: disability assistance, stock options, home rentals.64 NOW even noted outside criticism and internal labor trouble, which were usually related. Peoria's Labor Temple News charged LeTourneau with publicityseeking "religious spectacularism," sniping that "Christ probably never intended that His teachings should help to advertise road graders." if LeTourneau wanted to show a "Christian spirit," he could start by "meeting his workmen on a collective bargaining basis." NOW counter-charged that certain "religious leaders," presumably like those at the Labor Temple, "delivered up the Lord Jesus Christ to Pilate to be crucified and then persuaded the people to demand his death."65 This took a clear shot at unions as thugs whipped into a frenzy by their "leaders," not the representative democracies the News depicted. Meanwhile, LeTourneau warded off a threatened strike at Stockton by establishing another talismanic feature of welfare capitalism, a company union. He raised wages by 10 percent, and the newly minted "Le Tourneau Employes [sic] Union" vowed to "protec[t] employes [sic] against irresponsible picketing or sit-downs by minority groups" - that is, independent organizers who rejected the premise of labormanagement comity.66

By defining Christianity in the individualistic and pietistic terms of conservative evangelicalism, LeTourneau and his mouthpiece, Olson, ventured into conservative politics. Without question, both men cared more about saving souls than about current events per se. But some articles in NOW explicitly connected theology and public life. "A few days ago President Roosevelt proposed to Congress for himself something of the reorganization of government that Jethro, the priest of Midian, proposed for his son-in-law [Moses] 3400 years ago," Olson wrote after the Second Inaugural Address in 1937. The mistake, in both cases, was to increase the number of departments to be supervised, putting what should be "the burden of all Israelites" on the leader.67 Following the example of Moody Monthly, The King's Business, and other evangelical publications, NOW gave subscribers a smorgasbord of popular journalism that uplifted spirits while disparaging collectivism.

Both LeToumeau's speaking career and AfOfF evolved rapidly over the same trajectory, from a small start in Peoria to an ambitious campaign for a national audience. So did the LeTourneau Evangelistic Foundation (LEF), which funded the other two endeavors on a grand scale.68 Foundation philanthropy had been interwoven with Christian capitalism since the late nineteenth century, with the growth of a finance economy based in high-risk, high-yield stocks and bonds.69 Gilded Age business men and society women transformed urban charities from providers of "direct personal service" to centralized bureaucracies that mirrored the economic ideology and practices of their wealthy directors.70 Nouveau riche business men and blue-blooded patricians both inherited an ethos of Christian stewardship. Based in the biblical parable of the talents, in which a master gives three slaves the same amount of money to invest and rewards the one who earns the most, the commandment carried the same weight in the 1 930s as in earlier generations: "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."71 LeTourneau dubbed the LEF. "The Lord's Treasury," delegated its management to British-bom evangelist Harold Strathearn, and set up shop in Rockefeller Center, citadel of American capitalism.72 Joyful News, Strathearn 's newspaper, became by far the most militant of LeToumeau's publicity outlets, with puff pieces on "God's business man" sandwiched between denunciations of theological and cultural liberalism. Plant productivity filled LEF coffers. In 1936 and 1937, LeToumeau's annual sales reached $5,500,000, with most profits going to the Foundation.73


LeTourneau was ready to expand his business again, and just as the Plymouth Brethren had kept him employed as a young man, the Christian and Missionary Alliance turned out to be the network he needed. At a denominational convention in 1936, LeTourneau had been impressed by the speech of R. A. Forrest, founder of a coeducational Bible and vocational school in Toccoa Falls, Georgia. Thanks to infusions of money from fundamentalist oilmen, 1 936 was Toccoa Institute's twenty-fifth anniversary, and Forrest was traveling the world to meet his graduates in the mission field.74 LeTourneau sent a thousand dollar check. When the two men finally met in person, LeTourneau increased his support to ten thousand dollars and enrolled his son Donald in the Institute. In 1938, Forrest embraced LeToumeau's proposal to build a plant in Toccoa Falls with the Institute as a feeder school for workers.75

Like other manufacturers, LeTourneau already had his eye on the underindustrialized South. High poverty rates, a Jim Crow workforce that held wages down, and anti-union state governments guaranteed a cheap labor pool.76 At the same time, Toccoa Falls was reaping the benefits of the New Deal, as federal programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and National Youth Administration (NYA) hired young men from the area to work on civic improvement projects. The Tennessee Valley Authority generated hydroelectric power vital to industrial development. From CCC-donated lumber to NYA-constructed campus buildings, the Institute had become a private-public hybrid.77

LeTourneau might have protested such a thorough government presence on his new turf, but instead, he took advantage of the political battle between Roosevelt and conservative southern Democrats over the region's future. Roos&velt signed a Fair Labor Standards Act that enacted a national minimum wage targeted specifically at the poverty-stricken South, which he called "the Nation's number one economic problem." The President barnstormed through the region during the summer, trying to rouse voters against recalcitrant Democratic congressmen he called the "Copperheads." These legislators resisted federal intervention that, to Roosevelt's mind, would end the South 's economic isolation and, to their minds, would trample southern independence. In November 1938, when LeTourneau arrived in Toccoa Falls, southern voters - which is to say, white voters - overwhelmingly supported the Copperheads.78 NOW applauded the midterm elections, hoping that Congress would "once again be a representative body instead of a rubber stamp for the Chief Executive."79 Yet repudiating the President did not mean rejecting all of his initiatives. LeTourneau contracted with the NYA to build an airport in Toccoa Falls while he created an aviation training program at the Institute. In doing so, he tacitly acknowledged what pre- New Deal business men had contended all along: that working with, rather than against, a powerful federal government could be the best way to navigate the Depression.80

Cooperation among church, business, and southern states was the theme of the four-day revival LeTourneau staged in 1939 to consecrate the Toccoa Falls plant. An all-star cast of public figures joined LeTourneau in insisting on the unity of theological and political conservatism. Crowds of thousands enjoyed free barbecue while LeTourneau introduced them to his contractual creed.81 Governor Eurith D. "Ed" Rivers boosted his region and evangelical religion by attacking labor unions. "Mr. LeTourneau had the means to go anywhere in the nation with his business," Rivers said, but instead, he chose "Georgia and the southland. He's not going to find communists and sit-down strikes in the south!" The Governor added that "a spiritual revival is needed if the nation is to climb out of the present crisis." Joining Rivers on the platform were Senator Richard Russell, a Roosevelt ally, and three state and local officials. Big business was represented by Preston Arkwright, president of the Georgia Power Company, and R. W. Wirt, Vice President of the Southern Railway. Wirt praised LeToumeau's welfare capitalism: "He is not starting a sweat shop. He pays better wages than the average employer. ... He needs no regulation. His employees need no protection."82 Arkwright inaccurately asserted that LeTourneau also needed no New Deal: "All this we see here today is individual enterprise." The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted that an evening service would "be dedicated to the factory workers of north Georgia and . . . centered about wholesome, friendly relations between employer and employe [sic]."83 Two thousand people attended.84

The Journal-Constitution and Governor Richards would be proven wrong: LeTourneau could not escape labor unrest in the South. When the United Steel Workers tried to unionize Toccoa Falls in 1943, the same year the American Federation of Labor (AFL) won recognition in Peoria, he responded with no small edge of hysteria. "CIO Out to Communize LeTourneau Company," the LeTourneau Evangelistic Foundation's Joyful News announced in an issue largely devoted to the emergency.85 Editor Harold Strathearn depicted the strike as a modem version of the parable of the tenants and the vineyard. In the gospel account, a rich man leases his vineyard to tenants who not only refuse him its harvest, but attack each servant he sends to collect his due. Finally, he sends his beloved son, whom he is sure they will respect; instead, they kill the son, hoping to collect the inheritance. The rich man représents God; the son, Christ; and the tenants, Christ's crucifiers.86 Strathearn reimagined the hapless servants as "company representatives" and the murderous tenants as "trusted employees" who seized control of the business. The rich man and his son stood in for Christianity and capitalism, respectively. The son's death, Stratheam seethed, showed that "progressive confiscation will lead inevitably to complete seizure of property." However, justice would be served in the end. "The point in the biblical story is that these wicked men will be miserably destroyed and replaced by those who recognize the rights of the owner."87 Intense biblicism of this sort made evangelicals unique among anti-New Deal conservatives, most of whom stuck to the secular language of economics.88

But back in 1939, as LeTourneau settled into Toccoa Falls, he saw another challenge and opportunity on the horizon - war. With the outbreak of World War II in Europe, Roosevelt assured a nervous public that the United States would remain neutral; yet he was already pushing for higher military spending to help the Allies. The most immediate beneficiary was the manufacturing sector, and in 1940, LeTourneau again set his anti-Roosevelt politics aside and scored a $4.5 million War Department contract to manufacture ammunition shells at Toccoa Falls.89 Other evangelicals were in the isolationist majority. As early as 1938, an article in The King's Business warned of "propaganda aimed to convince Americans that a plunge into war would 'serve the interests of democracy and the stabilization of peace.'" The "militarists" were New Dealers writ large, "bureaucratic slave-drivers who will tyrannize over free Americans" by subjecting them to Europe's "war horrors."90 The author correctly foresaw big government only getting bigger, a prospect that had come to serve LeToumeau's business interests. On the terms of his partnership with God, LeTourneau had only to point to his profits to counter any charges of hypocrisy.

Humanitarian considerations loomed larger than collaboration with the state for evangelicals who wrote to LeTourneau protesting his contribution to the machinery of death. One correspondent cried, "How can you preach so zealously the love of Jesus Christ, and at the same time make shells, that destroy those souls that Jesus died for??????"91 A NOW subscriber in Madison, Wisconsin, insinuated that LeTourneau was behaving like a greedy Judas, making weapons "for a few pieces of Silver."92 However, LeTourneau stood firm. In his form-letter reply, he argued that "the aggressor nations of our day ... are the enemies of God and the Bible." A company memo in July 1941 made his financial considerations plain as well. "With defense business we can stay in business. Without defense business we are out of this business."93 Five months later, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor made all business defense business. LeToumeau's dirt-movers, transported to strategic locations around the world, proved more important than his shells.94

America's entry into the war transformed cultural critics into ardent nationalists; conservative evangelicals, who often lived out both identities at once, were no exception.95 The 1942 opening of LeToumeau's plant in Vicksburg, Mississippi, was a pageant of white Christian patriotism. The southern regional pride that had characterized the Toccoa Falls dedication gave way to a message of national unity from the Vicksburg Chamber of Commerce, which organized the factory's consecration to the Lord.96 The rally opened with a war bond and stamp drive, after which the American Legion led the crowd in singing "America" before the invocation. The governors of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana spoke, as did a visitor from Washington, Admiral John S. McCain. The father of the future Senator and presidential candidate thanked LeTourneau for a "grand time."97 He and the audience enjoyed an exhibition of LeTourneau, Inc.'s military equipment; a "patriotic display by Army, Navy, and Marine Corps"; a band playing over a top-of-the-line public address system; and, of course, "Free Barbeque for 1 0,???."98 If this was revival, it looked different than the one evangelicals had been calling for during the Depression and that LeTourneau advertised to Ripley. War, not mass professions of faith, had yanked the economy from the brink. God's business men were now government contractors.


Robert Ripley had a point in putting the spotlight on one charismatic figure in a program devoted to "oddities": R. G. LeTourneau was an unusual business man. Yet he was not without precedent or company, and many of his decisions echoed well beyond evangelicalism. His donation of 90 percent of his profits "to the Lord" recalled Andrew Carnegie's "Gospel of Wealth," which held that "all surplus revenues" were "trust funds ... to administer in the manner which is best calculated ... to produce the most beneficial results to the community."99 LeToumeau's anticommunist harangues, welfare capitalism, and bitter opposition to unions, though inflected with premillennial anticipation of a one-world government, aligned him with business ideologies that preceded the New Deal. His compromises with the Roosevelt regime can be read as Janus-faced or as the unavoidable recognition that the federal government was a player in the marketplace. His rush to join the military-industrial complex as war approached was no less patriotic or more self-serving than that of other manufacturers. Even his partnership with God owed as much to generic American individualism as to Protestant theology.

Yet just as it would be a mistake to ignore LeToumeau's conventionality within right- wing Depression and World War JJ-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 die New Deal was not simply a shrinking state, but a revival that would put a fallen nation back on good terms with its creator. Conservative evangelical ministers, such as the writers for The King's Business, taught the same belief, but LeToumeau's networks of evangelical business men took the logic one step further and proclaimed themselves the revival's leaders. They were real men who understood the real world. Their tangible testimonies of prosperity would save America and the world from the false doctrines of the age, especially communism. In this light, revivalism was not apolitical. Revivalism was politics.

Tantalizing questions remain. Did evangelicals intersect with the wealmier business men who formed the core of opposition to the New Deal, or were těiey operating along a parallel track? What did employees think of their "Christian" workplaces? How well did the world hear evangelical business men's insistence mat religious faim generated economic production? Ripley's was only one of many platforms, and LeTourneau only one of many entrepreneurs and preachers, to ask Depression-weary Americans to trust in God, not government.

1Erik Bamouw, The Golden Web: A History of Broadcasting in the United States 1933-1953 (New York; Oxford University Press, 1958), 58.

2"Robert 'Believe It Or Not' Ripley Presents . . . God Rewards Faith and Service," Broadcast September 27, 1940, n.d., 2-3.

3 A word as to spelling: contemporary sources use "business men" as two words, while R. G. LeToumeau's later autobiography, Mover of Men and Mountains: The Autobiography of R. G. LeTourneau (New York: Prentice Hall, 1960), uses "businessmen." For consistency, I use "business men" throughout. A word as to terminology: the relationship between "evangelical" and "fundamentalist" is theologically and sociologically vexing during the first half of the twentieth century. Except for a new emphasis on the divine inspiration and literal interpretation of scripture, twentieth-century fundamentalists upheld the evangelical orthodoxy of previous generations: salvation through Jesus Christ alone and the duty to redeem as many souls as possible. Yet they laid claim to the word "evangelical" while excluding other heirs to the interdenominational revivalist tradition, such as Pentecostals. Furthermore, "fundamentalist" was a more Northern and urban than Southern or rural identity, and the subculture incubated "new evangelicals" who would distance themselves from "fundamentalists" mid-century. While I am largely engaging scholarship on fundamentalism, I favor the more inclusive term "evangelical" to describe conservative Protestantism and its business culture writ large. Just as God was the fundamentalist LeToumeau's partner, for example, the Pentecostal William Doctor Gentry was "In Business for God" (Grant Wacker, Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001, 203). For the 1930s and 1940s terminological context, see George Marsden, Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1987), 48; William R. Glass, Strangers in Zion: Fundamentalists in the South, i900-1950 (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 2001); and Joel A, Carpenter, Revive Us Again: The Reawakening of American Fundamentalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 141-60.

4George M. Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of TwentiethCentury Evangelicalism, 1870-1925 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980), 3-^48, 141-57; Carpenter, Revive Us Again, 13-78, 110-23, 161-210; Douglas Carl Abrams, Selling the Oldtime Religion: American Fundamentalists and Mass Culture, i920-1940 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2001); Virginia Lieson Brereton, Training God's Army: The American Bible School, i880- J 940 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), 26-38; Douglas Sweeney, "The Essential Evangelicalism Dialectic: The Historiography of the Early Neo-Evangelical Movement and the Observer-Participant Dilemma," Church History 60, no. 1 (March 1991 ): 7084; Leonard Sweet, "Wise As Serpents and Innocent as Doves: The New Evangelical Historiography," Journal of the American Academy of Religion 56, no. 3 (Autumn 1988): 397416. Biographers have had an easier time integrating the theological, political, and social aspects of fundamentalism. See Leo P. Ribuffo, The Old Christian Right: The Protestant Far Right from the Great Depression to the Cold War (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1983); William Vance Trollinger, Jr., God's Empite: William Bell Riley and Midwestern Fundamentalism (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990); Barry Hankins, God's Rascal: J. Frank Norris and The Beginnings of Southern Fundamentalism (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1996), esp. t38-50; Matthew Avery Sutton, Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America (Cambridge. Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009), 212-66; Timothy A. Gloege, "Reuben A. Torrey and the Construction of Corporate Fundamentalism." Ph.D. diss. University of Notre Dame, 2007.

5 Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture; and Carpenter, Revive Us Again. Marsden 's Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1991) devotes two chapters to evangelical and fundamentalist politics, respectively. However, he scants the 1930s and 1940s, identifying prototypical fundamentalist politics as "beatfjng] the drums of simplistic anticommunist crusades that dated back to the McCarthy era" (100-101, 106).

6 Jon Butler, "'Jack-in-the Box' Faith: The Religion Problem in Modem American History," Journal of American History 90, no. 4 (March 2004): 1359.

7Bob Considine. Ripley: The Modern Marco Polo (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday. 1961), 47, 83.

8 Considine, Ripley, 4.

9On the problematic categories of "religion" and the "secular," see Wilfred Cantwell Smith, The Meaning and End of Religion (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991 [New York, MacMillan, 1963]), 15-50; Talal Asad, "On Rereading a Modem Classic: W. C. Smith's 'The Meaning and End of Religion,"' History of Religions 40, no. 3 (February 2001), 205-22; Asad, Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam, Modernity (Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press> 2003), 2166, 206-56; José Casanova, Public Religions in the Modern World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 1-66; Jonathan Z. Smith, Map Is Not Territory: Studies in the History of Religion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 299-309; David Chidester, Savage Systems: Colonialism and Comparative Religion in Southern Africa (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1966), 1-29.

10 Alison Collis Greene, "No Depression in Heaven: Religion and Economic Crisis in Memphis and the Delta, 1929- 1941," Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 2010; Darren Dochuk, From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism (New York: W. W. Norton, 2011); Daniel K. Williams, God's Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); Steven P. Miller, Billy Graham and the Making of the Republican South (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009); Kim Phillips-Fein, Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan (New York: W. W. Norton, 2009); Bethany Moretón, To Serve God and WalMart: The Making of Christian Free Enterprise (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009); Darren Grem, "The Blessings of Business: Corporate America and Conservative Evangelicalism in the Sunbelt Age, 1945-2000," Ph.D. diss.. University of Georgia, 2010.

11Dochuk discusses LeToumeau's early post- World War ? years (54-56, 128-29).

l2See Williams, God's Own Party, 15.

13MiChSeI Kimmel, Manhood in America: A Cultural History (New York: Free Press. 1996), 1342; Anthony Rotundo. American Manhood: Transformations in Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era (New York: BasicBooks, 1993), 1-30, 167-84.

14Max Weber, Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology, in Guenther Roth and CJaus Wittich, eds. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978 P 968]), 1200. On evangelical business men in the longer sweep of American history, see, for example. Mark Valeri, Heavenly Merchandize: How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America (Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2010); Charles E. Hambrick-Stowe, Charles G. Finney and the Spirit of American Evangelicalism (Grand Rapids. Mich.: Eerdmans, 1996), 129-40; Robert H. Abzug, Cosmos Crumbling: American Reform and the Religious Imagination (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994). 107-11; Bertram Wyatt Brown, Lewis Tappan and the Evangelical War Against Slavery (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1997 [1969J); Kathryn Long, The Revival of 1857-58: Interpreting an American Religious Awakening (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998); Mark A. Noll, ed., God and Mammon: Protestants, Money, and the Market. 1790-1860 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001); John Corrigan, Business of the Heart: Religion and Emotion in the Nineteenth Century (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 187.207-30.

15 William R. Hutchison, The Modernist Impulse in American Protestantism (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1992); Ronald C. White and C. Howard Hopkins, The Social Gospel: Religion and Reform in a Changing America (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1976). 3177, 114-203, 246-47; Susan Cunis, A Consuming Faith: The Social Gospel in Modern American Culture (Baltimore. Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), 2-59; Christopher H. Evans, The Kingdom Is Always But Coming: A Life of Waller Rauschenbusch (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2004). 74-11 Í, 177-89, 247-62.

16 Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture, 32-39.

17 LeTourneau, Mover of Men and Mountains, 23.

18 Ibid., 7-8, II.

19 IbId.. 22.

20 Ibid., 19.

21 Waleter Nugent, Into the West: The Story of Its People (New York: Random House, 1999), 7778, 1 32; LeTourneau, Mover of Men and Mountains, 19.

22 LeToumeau. Mover of Men and Mountains. 22-23.

23 lbid., 29.

24 Ibid., 23-30. See also Paul S, Boyer, "Iron and Steel Industry," The Oxford Companion to United States History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), available on Encyclopedia, com, (accessed June 19, 2009).

25 LeTourneau, Mover of Men and Mountains, 33. There is a vast literature on Christian conversion narratives. Most useful here is Randall Balmer and Lauren F. Winner's survey of early American morphologies of conversion in Protestantism in America (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 37-43. As with many of LeToumeau's stories, facts vary from version to version without harming the message. One biographer, quoting from LeToumeau's speeches, describes a more conventionally melodramatic moment: "Then I cried out in desperation to God, 'Lord, save me or 1 perish!' Right there something happened. The glory of the Lord broke over me and the full reality of salvation came into my soul." Albert W. Lorimer, God Runs My Business: The Story of R. G. LeTourneau. Farmhand, Foundry Apprentice. Master Molder, Garage Mechanic, Laborer. Inventor. Manufacturer, Industrialist. Christian Business Man. and Lav Evangelist (New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1941 ), 30.

26 William R. Hutchison, Errand to the World: American Protestant Thought and Foreign Missions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1987), 112, 112-14.

27 LeTourneau, Mover of Men and Mountains, 87. On American missions to China, see Alvyn J. Austin, "Blessed Adversity: Henry W, Frost and the China Inland Mission," in Earthen Vessels: American Evangelicab and Foreign Missions, i880-1990, ed. Joel A. Carpenter and Wilbert R, Shenk (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1990), 47-70; see especially 57 and 63-64, on business men and other wealthy patrons. On the Boxer Rebellion, see Lynn E. Bodin and Christopher Warner, The Boxer Rebellion (Oxford: Osprey, 1979), 3-6; Diana Preston, The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China 's War on Foreigners That Shook the World in 1900 (New York: Walker, 2000).

28 LeTourneau, Mover of Men and Mountains, 250-5 1 .

29 Ibid., 58-59; R. T. Sloss, The Book of the Automobile: A Practical Volume Devoted to the History Construction [sicj. Use and Care of Motor Cars and to the Subject of Motoring in America (New York: D. Appleton, 1905), 17.

30 LeTourneau, Mover of Men and Mountains, 67-68, 78-79, 83-86, 91-92, 102; Nugent, Into the West, 181.

31 Lorimer, God Runs My Business, 169.

32 LeToumeau, Mover of Men and Mountains, 87-88; Albert Edward Thompson. The Life of A. B. Simpson (Brooklyn: Christian Alliance Publishing, 1920), 1-3; Allan Anderson, An Introduction to Peniecostalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 29-3 1; Wacker, Heaven Below, 3. 148.

33 LeToumeau, Mover of Men and Mountains, 107-10. See also Donald F. Ackland, Moving Heaven and Earth: The Story of R. G. LeTourneau: Inventor, Designer, Manufacturer, Preacher (New York: Iverson Ford Associates, 1949), 55-56; Lorimer, God Runs My Business, 40-41.

34 LeTourneau, Mover of Men and Mountains, 1 35: Lorimer, God Runs My Business, 111.

35 Le Toumeau, Mover of Men and Mountains. 1 35.

36 Ibid.. 180.

37 Ibid., 170.

38 Ibid., 1 74; Mark S. Foster, "Giant of the West: Henry J. Kaiser and Regional Industrialization, 1930-1950," Business History Review 59, no. 1 (Spring 1985), 3; William Russell Haycraft, Yellow Steel: The Stor}' of the Earthmoving Equipment Industry (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002), 72.

39 Loriraer, God Runs My Business, 63. Although different factors in calculations make for an inexact comparison, LeToumeau's loss in 1931 matched overall manufacturing trends, while his 1932 profit bucked an even worse year. T. J. Kreps, "Dividends, Interest, Profits, Wages, 192335," Quarterly Journal of Economics 49, no. 4 (August 1935): 577.

40 Caterpillar sold forty-five million dollars in earthmoving equipment in 1930 and thirteen million dollars at its nadir in 1932. "Caterpillar, Inc. - Company History," International Directory of Company Histories 63 (London: St. James Press, 2004), available at http://www. (accessed July 19, 2007).

41 LeTourneau, Mover of Men and Mountains, 162, 169, 199-201.

42 John C. Teaford, Cities of the Heartland: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Midwest (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993), 253; A. J. Liebling, Chicago: The Second City (New York: Knopf. 1952). 10.

43 LeToumeau. Mover of Men and Mountains, 203. See Rinehart J. Swensen, "The Chamber of Commerce and the New Deal," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 179 (May 19351,136-43.

44 LeTourneau, Mover of Men and Mountains, 203.

45 Again. LeTourneau was echoing generations of evangelical men before him. See KimmeL Manhood in America, 1 75-81.

46 Lovisner, God Runs My Business. 196; LeTourneau, Mover of Men and Mountains, 203.

47 For example, one of the founders of the Christian Business Men's Committee International was a Chicago pastor. "Mr. Leaman Goes into Evangelism." Moody Bible Institute Monthly 32, no. 9 (May 1932). 466.

48 "Sermon Notes, R. G. LeTourneau," 1938-1942. Papers of R. G. LeTourneau (Box JlP, Folder 2), LeTourneau University, Longview. Texas (hereafter "LeTourneau University").

49 Lorimer. God Runs My Business, 107.

50 Phillips-Fein, Invisible Hands, 10-19. Although LeTourneau was likely a member of the National Association of Manufacturers, iI is not evident in his records. See also Patrick Allitt. The Conservatives: Personalities Throughout American History (New Haven. Conn.: Yale University Press. 2009), 145-48; George Wolfskfll, The Revolt of the Conservatives: A History of the American Liberty League, 1934-1940 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962). 48-55; Alan Brinkley, Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin ami the Great Depression (New York: Vintage, 1982). 114-15. 153-56, 252-59. 265-68: Clinton Rossiter, Conservatism in America: The Thankless Persuasion, 2nd ed. (New York: Vintage. 1962), 170-73, 182-96. 251-54; Gregory Eow, "Fighting a New Deal: Intellectual Origins of the Reagan Revolution. 1932-1952," Ph.D. diss.. Rice University, 2007; George H. Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 (Wilmington, Dei.: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 1996), 1-21.

51 See M. J. Heale, American Anti-Communism: Combating the Enemy Within. 1830-J970 (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990), 42-144.

52 "Phillips-Fein, invisible Hands, 3-4; Sean Wilentz, Chants Democratic: New York City and the Rise of the American Working Class. 1788-1850 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004 [1986]), 299-323.

53 "Paul S. Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy Belief in Modern American Culture (Cambridge. Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1992), 156-57.

54 Louis S. Bauman, "Present-Day Fulfillment of Prophecy," The King's Business (June 1933), 181.

55 "Evangelicals are absent from Phillips-Fein's account of conservatism in the 1930s. Williams puts fundamentalists of the 1 930s in an apocalyptic lacuna between political mobilizations in the 1920s and the 1940s (15).

56 Elizabeth A. Fones- Wolf credits LeTourneau for originating industrial chaplaincies in Selling Free Enterprise: The Business Assault on Labor and Liberalism, i945-1960 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994), 224.

57 n.a., "Peoria Plant," Papers of R. G. LeTourneau (Box J5J, no folder), LeTourneau University.

58 David M. Kennedy, Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 19291945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 292.

59 Lizabeth Cohen, Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, i919-1939 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 160-83; Richard E. HoIl, From the Boardroom to the War Room: America's Corporate Liberals and FDR's Preparedness Program (Rochester, N. Y.: University of Rochester Press, 2005), 9-2 J; Ackland, Moving Heaven and Earth, 112-14. See also Jennifer Klein, For All These Rights: Business, Labor, and the Shaping of America's Public-Private Welfare State (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2003), 16-52.

60 Lorimer, God Runs My Business, 102; Ackland, Moving Heaven and Earth, 166.

61 "R. G. LeTourneau Talks on Status of Employes [SiC]" NOW (February 26, 1937). 2-3.

62 LeToumeau, Mover of Men and Mountains, 208.

63 Ackland, Moving Heaven and Earth, 157-58. By 1939, a million Olson tracts went out from the Peoria plant each month. "Acts 16:30 and 31," NOW (November 17. 1939), 1.

64 "Plant Life," NOW (October 16, 1936; October 23. 1936; October 30, 1936; November 6, 1936; November 13, 1936; January 15, 1937; February 12, 1937; March 19, 1937).

65 "Questions Preaching at LeTourneau Plant," NO W (Feb. 5, 1937), 3; "About This Newspaper - Labor temple news," Ch/vnicling America, The Library of Congress, available at http:// (accessed Aug. 13, 2009).

66 "Union Pledges Loyalty to R. G. Le Toumeau," MW (June 18 [7?J, 1937), 3. On company unions as defining features of welfare capitalism, see Cohen, Making a New Deal, 164; on organized labor's resistance to company unions, see H. W. Brands, Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (New York: Doubleday, 2008), 387-89.

67 President's Proposal Resembles Jethro's." NOW (January 29, 1937), 3.

68 Lorimer, God Runs My Business, 185-86; Ackland, Moving Heaven and Earth, 157-58.

69 Charles R. Morris, Tfie Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J. P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy (New York: Henry Holt, 2005), 192-94.

70 Kathleen D. McCarthy, Noblesse Oblige: Charity and Cultural Philanthropy in Chicago. 1849-1929 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), 53.

71 Luke 12:48 (KJV).

72 Lorimer, God Runs My Business, 128, 187-88.

73 Ibid., 67.

74 Lorene Moothart, Achieving the Impossible with God: The Life Storv of Dr. R, A. Forrest (Toccoa Falls, Ga.: Toccoa Falls College Press. 1996 [1956]), 84-96.

75 Lorimer. God Runs My Business, 84-87; LeTourneau, Mover of Men and Mountains, 219-22; Ackland, Moving Heaven and Earth, 74-76; Moothart, Achieving the Impossible with God, 142-46, 165-66.

76 Kennedy, Freedom from Fear, 254; Tami J. Friedman, "Exploiting the North-South Differential: Corporate Power. Southern Politics, and the Decline of Organized Labor after World War II." Journal of American History 95. no. 2 (September 2008): 323-18: Robert Rodgers Korstad, Civil Rights Unionism: Tobacco Workers and the Struggle for Democracy in the Mid-Twentieth Century South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003), 5-6; Henry M. McGiven, Jr., Iron and Steel: Class. Race, and Community in Birmingham, Alabama, 1875-1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1 995),' 1 66-22.

77 Kennedy, Freedom from Fear, 144; Moothart, Achieving the Impossible with God, 68; Troy Damon, A Tree God Planted: The Story of Toccoa Falls College (Toccoa Falls, GA: Toccoa Falls Press, 1996 [1982]), 68-71 .

78 Kennedy, Freedom from Fear, 344-45; "Troubles of South Typify World's Woes," NOW (September 9, 3 938), 2-3.

79 "G.O.P. Win Changes Legislative Outlook," NOW (November 25, 1938), 2.

80 Holl, From the Boardroom to the War Room, 22.

81 "And Then 5,000 People Were Fed," NOW (July 21, 1939), 1.

82 "Another Factory Revival," WOJf(JuIy 21, 1939), 2, 4.

83 Lamar Q. Ball, "Toccoa Factory is Dedicated to Principles of Christianity," The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, My 12, 1939,2.

84 "Another Factory Revival," 2, 5.

85 Amy Porter, "God's Partner." Colliers, December 25. 1943, 75; "Georgia Plant Targeted by Ambitious CIO Organizers: CIO Out to Communize LeTourneau Company," Joyful News (MayJune 1943), 4. See also 54 N.L.R.B. 1253, a National Labor Relations Board decision concluding that the LeTourneau Company of Georgia illegally suspended two workers for distributing United Steel Workers of America and CIO literature in July and August 1943,

86 Luke 20:9-19.

87 "Bible Declares the Rights of Capital and Labor," Joyful News (May-June 1943), 4.

88 Phillips-Fein, Invisible Hands, 10-22.

89 Jacob Bos to R. G. LeTourneau, November 18,1 940, quoting Newsweek (November 1 1 , 1 940), 50. Papers of R. G. LeTourneau (Box J4J, Folder 38), LeTourneau University.

90 DaTi Gilbert, "View and Reviews of Current News," The King's Business (December 1938), 406.

91 Malcolm W. George to R. G. LeTourneau, December 8, 1940. Papers of R. G. LeTourneau (Box J4J, Folder 38), LeTourneau University.

92 Alfred W. Swan to R. G. LeTourneau, December 8, 1940. Papers of R. G. LeTourneau (Box J4J, Folder 38), LeTourneau University.

93 E. R. Galvin to AU District Representatives, July 7, 1941. Papers of R. G. LeTourneau (Box FlU. Folder 1), LeTourneau University.

94 Ackland, Moving Heaven and Earth, 1 1 5-29; LeTourneau, Mover of Men and Mountains. 230-32, 239.

95 Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Cultore, 6-7, 68, 210; Sacvan Berkovitch, The American Jeremiad (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1978), 7-8.

96 "An Invitation to Attend a Tri-State Patriotic Rally in connection with the dedication of the Vicksburg Plant of the LeTourneau Company of Mississippi, Saturday, November 28, 1942," n. d., 1. Papers of R. G. LeTourneau fBox FlU, Folder 39), LeTourneau University.

97 John S. McCain to R. G. LeTourneau, February 8, 1943. Papers of R. G. LeTourneau (Box J4J, Folder 24), LeTourneau University.

98 "An Invitation to Attend a Tri-State Patriotic Rally," 2.

99 Andrew Carnegie, "Wealth," North American Review, No. CCCXCI (June 1889), available at^ (accessed January 26, 201 1).

Author affiliation:

Sarah R. Hammond is Visiting Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the College of William and Mary.

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