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Civilizing the World : The Social Activism of Practical Christians from Chicago to the Middle East - Sarah Miglio

Civilizing the World

The Social Activism of Practical Christians from Chicago to the Middle East

By: Sarah Miglio

eText | 17 August 2023

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Civilizing the World explores the vibrancy and impact of forgotten social reformers who defied categorization within the Social Gospel or secular progressive movements. These social reformers, or "Practical Christians," functioned as a network of activists whose dedication to spiritual conversions and cultural transformation arose from a shared commitment to nonsectarian Christian cooperation and practicing Christian citizenship. Bringing together a diverse coalition of liberal Protestants, revivalists, evangelicals, and "secular" reformers, Practical Christians rejected theological divisions in favor of broad alliances committed to improving society at home and abroad. A complete understanding of the intimate relationship between local and global activism provides new insight into Practical Christians' social networks, political goals, religious identities, and international outlook. This broad reform alliance considered their domestic and global reforms as seamless tasks in modernizing the world. Just as Chicago Practical Christians labored to "civilize" their immigrant neighbors and encourage their adoption of their own Christian and American habits, like-minded Americans worked to "Christianize" and "modernize" Armenians and the Middle East. The Practical Christian coalition faltered post-World War I as evangelicals and revivalists continued to prioritize spiritual conversions while liberal Protestant and secularizing activists placed more emphasis on the process of Americanizing immigrants and the world.

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