Certifying Eugenic Purity in the Churches
This chapter further places religious leaders’ enthusiasm for eugenics in the context of both Progressivism and the Social Gospel movement. As eugenic ideas gained in popularity, religious leaders such as Rev. Walter Taylor Sumner, a Protestant Episcopal Dean in Chicago, began crafting their own eugenic proposals, which they administered in their churches. Dean Sumner’s eugenic “marriage health certificate” plan garnered publicity and many imitators. This chapter describes such proposals and places them in the context of the growing social service movement in the Protestant churches in particular, and the public’s increasing interest in eugenics in general. It also discusses the many “eugenic family studies” published in the 1910s.
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