How Texas Became America’s Most Powerful Bible-Belt State

Excellent article about why Texas has so much power and how it got it.

“Texas: The Southern Baptists in Power”
New York Review of Books
October 9, 2014
Texas: The Southern Baptists in Power
By Thomas Powers
Rough Country: How Texas Became America’s Most Powerful Bible-Belt
by Robert Wuthnow
Princeton University Press, 654 pp., $39.50
“Bible Belt" is a phrase coined by the writer H.L. Mencken, who
placed it first among the inventions of which he was vainest,
followed by “booboisie," “smuthound," and “Boobus
americanus." Together they declare what Mencken thought of the
Bible-obsessed regions of the United States, and especially that region
called the Old South—a swath of states stretching from
the Atlantic to Texas. A map of the Bible Belt and a map of the
Confederacy are pretty much the same, and the explanation is
to be found in the unbending defense of slavery by Southern Baptists
before the Civil War—something everybody in the Bible
Belt knows but most ignore, dismiss, or deny.
In 1928, on his way to the Democratic convention held in Houston,
Mencken and his friend Henry Hyde stopped off in Fort
Worth to talk politics with the notorious Baptist preacher J. Frank
Norris, who had twice been tried for serious crimes and
twice acquitted—the first time, in 1912, for burning his own church,
and the second time, in 1926, for shooting to death an
unarmed man in Norris’s own church office. He claimed that the victim
made “the hip pocket move" as if to reach for a gun,
and the jury bought it. Norris was not only quick on the trigger in the
Texas way, but was a man of violent opinion who had
dominated Baptist church circles for years with his campaign against
“that hell-born, Bible-destroying, deity-of-Christ-denying,
German rationalism known as evolution."
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