The Eugenicist Origins of Evangelical Family Values

Dr. Audrey Clare Farley stops by to discuss her article, “The Eugenics Roots of Evangelical Family Values,” which outlines how the family values discourse so prevalent in Evangelical culture has its origins in eugenics. Eugenics was a junk-science movement started in the early 20th century that tried to show the genealogical and biological superiority of Whites over other racial groups. It was used in tragic ways to justify forced sterilizations and other unwanted procedures on Black Americans, other people of color, and others deemed unfit to reprdouce. Dr. Farley explains how James Dobson, found of Focus on the Family, was an assistant to a prominent eugenicist and eventually imbued Evangelical teaching on the family with eugenicist–and racist–ideas.

Audrey Clare Farley is a historian of twentieth-century American fiction and culture. She holds a PhD in English literature and is the author of The Unfit Heiress: The Tragic Life and Scandalous Sterilization of Ann Cooper Hewitt, about a long-forgotten case that helped to modernize the eugenics movement. Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Republic, The Washington Post, and many other outlets

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