“Saints for this Age”: Religion and Radicalism in the American Century

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This essay argues that religion was an important factor in the transition in left politics from the Marxist framework of the 1930s to the existential, radical democratic politics of the New Left. It focuses on A. J. Muste, a leading figure in the Old Left, to show how he drew upon anti-Stalinist thought, Christian social and intellectual history, and Gandhian satyagraha to construct a new radical politics for the American Century. Against political consensus and militarism, he posited a “true church” of pacifists and nonconformists whose prophetic action would break through the alienation and oppression of organized society and power politics and make the beloved community possible. His ideas and example inspired a generation of Christian pacifists, and helped lay the groundwork for 1960s social movements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPalgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages23
StatePublished - 2018

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements
ISSN (Print)2634-6559
ISSN (Electronic)2634-6567


  • Aggressive World
  • Congress Of Racial Equality (CORE)
  • Muster
  • Satyagraha
  • Swarthmore College Peace Collection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations


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