“Women’s Equality”: Does It Include Valorizing a Woman Who Preaches to the KKK at Her Own Megachurch?

I’ve just published an article in a new American Studies journal called Quarterly Horse that features concise scholarly interventions. Here it is for you to click on.

It uses the case of a pioneering radio evangelist, megachurch founder, and Pentecostal empire builder—one of few such people who was a woman in a subculture that earned a reputation for hostility to feminism—to reflect on how scholars write about “women’s equality” and popular religion in relation to “popular culture.”

My focus, Aimee Semple MacPherson, was one of the most influential US religious leaders of the past century who was female. As I argue, she is clearly important insofar as popular religion is significant within “popular culture” and/or women’s prerogative to preach on an equal basis with men is significant within “women’s rights.”

But then again her preaching is not easily legible as feminist and she made alliances with the Ku Klux Klan. So it’s a fascinating case—one that attracted as much attention as the Scopes Monkey Trial in its time and set down precedents that remain important today.

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