About your Host

Adam Laats is a historian interested in culture and education in the United States.  He taught middle- and high school for ten years in sunny Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  He now teaches 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.

What I wish I looked like...

What I wish I looked like…

He has published widely about the history of America’s schools and culture.  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 second book, The Other School Reformers: Conservative Activism in American Education came out in February 2015 with Harvard University Press.  His next book, co-authored with philosopher Harvey Siegel and titled Teaching Evolution in a Creation Nation, hit the shelves in March, 2016.  His fourth book, Fundamentalist U, came out in early 2018. It looks at the tumultuous twentieth-century history of conservative evangelical colleges and universities.  His latest book examines the history and culture of creationism in the USA. He is currently writing a new book about the earliest attempts at urban school reform in the USA. 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 Time, to Newsweek, to the Washington Post, and to the History News Network.

When it comes to his personal opinions about schools and culture, Laats generally sticks with his progressive roots. He was not raised in any sort of evangelical, conservative, or fundamentalist church. However, he tries hard to be sympathetic to and understanding of conservatives, traditionalists, and free-marketeers. As SAGLRROILYBYGTH are aware, the point of this blog is to challenge pat assumptions about school and society, whether progressive, conservative, or other.

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  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.

  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.

  3. willbell123

     /  January 29, 2013

    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.

  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.

  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?”

  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!!!

  7. Ann Kelley

     /  November 25, 2015

    Please put your blog on facebook.

  8. I’ve got to read your latest book, Adam. Congrats, btw!!

  9. Ed

     /  August 4, 2017

    What a fascinating view of today’s creative tension between anti-modernists and those fully embracing the checkered march toward a “progress” that seemingly promises more than it delivers. Adam Laats strikes me as a first-rate storyteller–and that is meant in the best sense of the word. In reading a few of his pieces and pledging to read (buy;) his books, I’m grateful to find an authentic soul seeking to unearth the truth in so many of our public dust-ups on issues both large and small (the sizing of which is typically influenced by where one rests their head).

    Thanks, Adam, for all this hearty, grist-for-the-mill, as we continue to wrestle with this little experiment called limited, self-government. It is clearly an enterprise much more easily romanticized than done. ….and there is nothing new under the sun. Indeed!

    SF, EB

  10. Ray Smith

     /  April 28, 2018

    J. Oliver Buswell was terminated as president of Wheaton College not in the 1930s but on January 20, 1940 by vote of the board of trustees. His salary and residence were continued until September of that year.

  11. Dear Adam Laats,

    Thank you for your commentary on Hugh Ross. Three things: I wrote one opposing him I invite you to read at:

    I. HUGH ROSS expose (Rick Warren also promotes)


    Also see:


    As you probably know, Rick Warren and his publisher, Zondervan claim that his Warren’s Purpose Driven Life book is “the bestselling nonfiction hardback book in history”. (when they had sold 32 million copies.) They both attributed this statement to Publishers Weekly.

    But here is what George Slowik, President of Publishers Weekly had to say, totally refuting Warren’s claim he and Zondervan attributed to Publishers Weekly:

    George W. Slowik, President of Publishers Weekly:

    “I’ve checked our site which includes all of our content from about 1995.
    Also touched base with our religion editors and there is no finding of a
    quote like that…We don’t generally use the term hardback.” September 30, 2013 11:33:08 PM EDT

    Here is the just released chart with the forensic evidence from 20 reputable book sales tracking organizations and scholars showing Rick Warren’s PDL book is way down the list link:

    Click to access BestSellingRankingListinHistory.pdf

    The bottom line, is that the claim by Warren and Zondervan his publisher is simply untrue, forensically unverifiable, and falsely attributed to Publishers Weekly.

    III. SHAPE 301 CLASS (Rick Warren):

    Here my article on Warren’s SHAPE Personality Profile (also in his PDL book) based on Carl Jung that was published in two conservative Christian Theological Journals (one of them is Dr. Robert Morey’s):

    Click to access Personality%20Profiling_Jungian%20Analysis%20of%20Rick%20Warren%27s%20SHAPE%20Personality%20Profiling.pdf

    Though you don’t require Tithing or SHAPE at your church to be a member, Rick Warren does at his Saddleback Church.

    I also invite you to view Elliott Nesch’s two hour film documentary on Rick Warren. Elliott is from Oregon.

    (Note a few minutes in you will hear Rick Warren state that his PDL book is the bestselling book in history outside of the Bible)
    Kindest regards in Christ,

    James Sundquist

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