Loathed by mainstream Southern Baptists, J. Frank Norris (1877-1952) was in many ways the Southern Baptist Convention's first fundamentalist. Twenty-five years after its first publication, this second edition of Barry Hankins's field-defining work God's Rascal: J. Frank Norris and the Beginnings of Southern Fundamentalism engages new scholar- ship on American fundamentalism to reassess one of the most controversial figures in the history of American Christianity. In this completely revised edition, Hankins pens an entirely new chapter on J. Frank Norris's murder trial, examines newly uncovered details regarding his recurrent sexual improprieties, and reconsiders his views on race in order to place J. Frank Norris, a man both despicable and captivating, among the most significant Southern fundamentalists of the twentieth century.
Norris merged a southern populist tradition with militant fundamentalism, carving out a distinctly take-no-prisoners political niche within the Baptist church that often offended his allies as much as his enemies. Indeed, Norris was about as bad as a fundamentalist could be. He resided in a world of swirling conspiracies of leftists who, he argued, intended to subvert both evangelical religion and American culture. There are times when Norris's ego looms so large in his story that he seemed less interested in the threat these alleged conspiracies posed than in their power to keep him in the limelight. Finally, his tactics foreshadowed those employed in the fundamentalists' tenacious takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention that would occur more than twenty years after Norris's death.