"Flocking By Themselves:" Fundamentalism, Fundraising, and the Bureaucratization of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1919-1925
Smith, Andrew Christopher
This dissertation explores the influence of the Fundamentalist movement on Southern Protestantism during Fundamentalism's formative period. While Southern Baptists were fearful of Fundamentalist institutions that sought to compete with established Southern Baptist missionary and educational organizations, the Southern Baptist Convention was significantly impacted by Fundamentalist theology. During Fundamentalism’s first wave (1919-1925), Southern Baptist leaders sought to lead their constituents to support the Seventy-Five Million Campaign, a program of fundraising and institution building that sought to bring the Southern Baptist Convention in line with emerging, Progressive-era methods of organization and fundraising and to position it to compete with the ill-fated Interchurch World Movement. Because of fears of Modernism among many Baptist ministers and laypeople, however, denominational leaders sought to demonstrate that the Southern Baptist Convention, because of its exceptional regional nature, was immune to Modernism and therefore a trustworthy administrator of funds dedicated to missionary and educational activities. In fact, campaign director L. R. Scarborough was able to use the language of Fundamentalism to create a new identity for Southern Baptists, a “Scarborough Synthesis,” that redefined financial support for the denomination as a “fundamental” of biblical faith, while rejecting hard-line Fundamentalist rejection of the Campaign as a form of Modernism. Thus, Scarborough and other leaders were able to turn anxieties about Modernism in Southern Baptist ranks toward the end of strengthening the institutions of the Southern Baptist Convention. Having established the orthodoxy of the Campaign, leaders worked to enforce its acceptance within the limits imposed by Baptists’ congregational polity. Those supportive of the Campaign were promised higher salaries and crop yields, while critics were threatened with job loss, decline in income, or divine condemnation. Leaders also charged Southern Baptist educational institutions, now recipients of denominationally-raised funds, with responsibility for ensuring the denominational loyalty of their graduates. Although critics raised objections to the strengthening of the denomination and its leaders on the basis of anxieties about polity, theology, or both, these criticisms were either ignored or dismissed.