'The Democratization of American Christianity' focus of March 14 lecture by Nathan O. Hatch

By Jacob McConnico
February 21, 2006

Wake Forest University President Nathan O. Hatch will discuss his book "The Democratization of American Christianity" at 3 p.m. March 14 in the Rhoda K. Channing Reading Room of the university's Z. Smith Reynolds Library.

President Nathan O. Hatch

Hatch, who is regularly cited as one of the most influential scholars in the study of the history of religion in America, released the book in 1989. It offers a reassessment of religion and culture during the early days of the republic and argues that during this period, American Christianity was democratized, and commoners became powerful actors on the religious scene.

The book, which won national acclaim and garnered three major prizes, examines five traditions or mass movements that emerged early in the 19th century — the Christian movement, Methodism, the Baptist movement, the black churches and the Mormons. It outlines how the various religious traditions offered the unschooled and unsophisticated people of the time visions of individual potential and collective aspiration.

The book was chosen in a survey of 2,000 historians and sociologists as one of the two most important books in the study of American religion.

Hatch, formerly provost at the University of Notre Dame, assumed the Wake Forest presidency July 1, 2005, and was inaugurated at a formal ceremony Oct. 20. A native of Columbia, S.C., Hatch is a Presbyterian, who spent much of his career as a history professor and administrator at Notre Dame, a Catholic university in South Bend, Ind.

For more information, call (336) 758-4931.