About your guide

Adam Laats is an historian interested in conservative educational activism.  He taught middle- and high school for ten years in sunny Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  He now teaches  in the Graduate School of Education and History Department at Binghamton University (State University of New York).  He was trained as a historian at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he studied with educational historian William J. Reese and historian of science and medicine Ronald L. Numbers.

He has published widely about the history of conservatism in America’s schools.  His first book, Fundamentalism and Education in the Scopes Era: God, Darwin, and the Roots of America’s Culture Wars (Palgrave Macmillan 2010) examined battles over religion and schooling in the 1920s.  His next book, The Other School Reformers: Conservative Activism in American Education will come out in January 2015 with Harvard University Press.  Laats has published articles in such scholarly journals as Church HistoryHistory of Education Quarterly, and Teachers College Record.  He has contributed essays to the Chronicle of Higher Education, to Education Week, to the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog and to the History News Network.

Laats does not identify as a “conservative” himself.  But he tries to write about conservative issues without attacking them.  As an historian, he hopes to understand conservatism sympathetically, though personally he disagrees with most of the policies labeled “conservative.”

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16 Comments

  1. minus christ

     /  October 31, 2012

    Hey ILYBYGTH, was recommended by another blogger to check you out and not regretting it. Thanks for this rigorous insight into conservative America.

    Reply
  2. I just want to say this is my favourite source for looking at the ‘big picture’ of fundamentalism in America, thanks for providing us with your insights.

    Reply
  3. I just want to say this is my favourite source for a ‘big picture’ analysis of fundamentalism in America, thanks for giving your time to post about it.

    Reply
  4. Excellent. I think your balanced approach to learning is exactly what the community needs. You have added to our learning community. I am very interested in talking to you further about your attempt to improve the community through education and networking.

    Reply
  5. Ken Turner

     /  March 16, 2014

    I wonder your take on the posture of WBJ as evaluated by his descendants in http://timesfreepress.com/news/2014/mar/16/family-says-bryan-would-oppose-livesay-move/

    I know it’s impossible to say for sure, but “what would WJB believe today?”

    Reply
  6. I have just visited your blog for the first time. I read assorted posts—all of which encouraged me to feel a little bit vanilla. The content is interesting and informative, but it seems to shy away from taking any sort of stand on issues related to fundamentalism. I suppose there is no law (academic or otherwise) that requires a person to take a stand. It is also understandable that a person like you cannot say, “Christian fundamentalism is really screwed up badly and is dangerous to American society!!! May I come to your Christian fundamentalist college for a week so I can interact with your students and faculty on the subject of blaming females for rape.” I feel sure the answer would be “no.” Indeed, in the past, every Casper Milktoast overture I have ever made to a Christian fundamentalist (who knows nothing at all about me) for research purposes—no matter how benign its nature—has ended in the same way: “No, I don’t feel right answering your questions about any issue. You might use my answers to undermine our faith and doctrines.” How you can get away with this sort of research—and I cannot—amazes me no end.

    But hey. I would like you to go on an Internet research trip for me. Go surfing on the Internet and find me an article or book where a single Christian minister or theologian outside of Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism has used the Bible and good theological arguments militantly to destroy and utterly devastate Christian fundamentalism. I am talking about the Biblical, literary, and theological equivalent of holding a 12 gauge, double-barreled shotgun 5 inches from the head of Christian fundamentalism and snapping both triggers at the same time so all that is left on the wall behind the former head is red goo and tiny brain fragments. You can find thousands, and thousands, and thousands of articles, books, and blogposts where Christian fundamentalists attack the rest of Christianity in this way. I am a master Internet researcher, and I have never found any text where a person with authoritative Biblical and theological knowledge has gone after Christian fundamentalism with that double-barrel shotgun. Try it. Except for a few blog babbles by laymen here and there, you will find almost nothing from the nonfundie camp. Why is that—and why has the rest of Christianity as a whole refused to go after its major abuser when there is so very much Biblical and theological to use in going after them. It reminds me of a housewife that has been beaten black, blue, and bleeding by her drunken husband, always to the threshold of death, but she continually fails to fight back or even call the police.

    I guess the way I feel about it is this. Rather than being such a nice, balanced, Casper Milktoast research guy who drifts through life making everyone happy so you can sympathetically research Christian fundamentalism, why don’t you do something new, original, and truly useful with all that you know as a result of your extensive research. My suggestion: Pull out a rusty chef’s nice, do a Jack-the-Ripper job on that pride-filled religious imposter, slay it, and bury it before it destroys anymore individual lives, the real Christian faith, and all of humanity. And when you finish it—please post it somewhere on the Internet so people can find it and read it. Thanks!!!

    Reply
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  2. ACE and Racism, Part 2 « Leaving Fundamentalism
  3. Getting It Wrong at The Atlantic « I Love You but You're Going to Hell
  4. The Bible in America: Reading Prayerfully and Relating Autistically « I Love You but You're Going to Hell
  5. Superman & Sex Ed in Mississippi | I Love You but You're Going to Hell
  6. Gay Marriage and School Bathrooms | I Love You but You're Going to Hell
  7. A Christian Teen Army in Public Schools | I Love You but You're Going to Hell
  8. Our fundamentalist neighbours | Leaving Fundamentalism
  9. A Strange Sort of “Lion’s Den:” AiG at NEA | I Love You but You're Going to Hell
  10. Shelfies IV: Science & Religion Walk into a Bar… | I Love You but You're Going to Hell

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