This episode of The UpWords Podcast brings insightful perspectives on faith, society, and history to light. In today’s episode, host Dan Hummel engages in a thoughtful conversation with distinguished professor Janine Giordano Drake, Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Indiana University.

We dive deep into the roots of American Christianity’s engagement with social and labor issues. Janine brings her expertise in US labor, working-class history, and American religious history to explore the complex interplay between faith and the fight for social justice in the early 20th century.

We’ll uncover the surprising cohesion between Roman Catholics, the social gospel movement, and Protestants as they navigated the intersections of Christianity with capitalism, advocating for unions, fair wages, and the end of child labor. Our journey includes a look into the past with the socialist ideals thriving in working-class churches, challenging the mainstream Protestant denominates, and shifting the landscape of labor movements.

Our discussion takes a turn towards the impact of such dynamics during the tumultuous era of World War I and the Great Steel Strike of 1919, drawing parallels that resonate with social movements a century later. As we peel back the layers of history, Janine not only educates us on the conservative stance of the social gospel compared to the grassroots movements of the time but also reflects on the contemporary Christian community’s engagement with similar debates.

So, whether you’re a history buff, a seeker of spiritual depth, or someone interested in the social threads that knit our society together, this episode promises insights and revelations. We explore the tangible effects of historical conflicts on today’s faith and labor conversations and consider whether we can still see the imprint of these early 20th-century struggles in our present day.

Join us as we journey through time with Janine Giordano Drake, unraveling the story of how the social gospel moved beyond church walls and into the world of labor and social reform. 

Check out Janine Giordano Drake’s book, The Gospel of Church: How Mainline Protestants Vilified Christian Socialism and Fractured the Labor Movement