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2012 Master's Level Graduate Research Conference

Session I - Session II - Session III - Session IV

Religion and Sexuality in American History

Religion and Sexuality in American History This panel addresses moments of increased tension between religion and sexuality in American history. Religion is typically viewed as static in its opinions on marriage and sex. A closer look, however, demonstrates the many ways in which religion and sexuality, and the relationship between them, are changed during moments of social and political flux. Kevin Vrevich’s paper examines how the early nineteenth century Massachusetts Baptist Church changed its perception of gender roles to reflect the dominant views of the nation. A study of obituaries of Baptist women indicates a pattern of male subjugation that deviates from earlier egalitarian trends in the Church. Chelsea Gibson’s paper explores the backlash against polygamous Mormon women by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and other women’s groups at the turn of the century. Contemporary women’s publications and federal documents and legislation demonstrate how women’s groups attacked Mormon women as sexual slaves incapable of political autonomy. Tiffany Baugh’s paper engages the debate within the Catholic Church over the legalization of birth control in the 1960s. By juxtaposing official Church papers from the Archdiocese of Detroit with statements from Catholic supporters of birth control, this study will reveal a contested dialogue at the local level indicative of broader trends in Catholic discourse. Together, the three papers offer a new perspective on how American religious responses to sexuality evolve with changes in American society and culture.

Presenters: Tiffany Baugh (Binghamton University (SUNY)) --
Chelsea Gibson (Binghamton University (SUNY)) --
Kevin Vrevich (Binghamton University (SUNY)) --
Topic: History I - Panel
Location: 217 Hartwell
Time: 10:30 am (Session II)