This introduction outlines the book’s central themes and also counters misinterpretations of the role of Protestants in film history. While Protestants are routinely dismissed collectively as ardent proponents of movie censorship, it is argued here that they characteristically sought a measure of harmony between individual liberty, artistic freedom, and the common good in their efforts to establish a fitting role for the cinema. A crucial distinction is made between “pietist” and “structural” traditions, providing a framework for understanding divergent strategies for movie reform. Constituting the central thread in this narrative, around which all the others—dissenting Protestant and Catholic alike—are entwined, are the activities of the Federal (later National) Council of the Churches, which represented the foremost Protestant denominations of the day.
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