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Colorful and outrageous, influential yet despicable, J. Frank Norris was a preacher, newspaper publisher, political activist, and all-around subject of controversy. One of the most despised men in traditional Southern Baptist circles, he was also the man most responsible for bringing hard-edged fundamentalism to the South. Barry Hankins traces Norris, the “Texas Cyclone," from his boyhood in small-town Texas to his death in 1952. Despite scandals, Norris was a man of considerable public influence who traveled the world, corresponded with congressmen, and attended president's Hoover's inauguration at Hoover's invitation. Through his preaching career he battled anyone and everyone he saw as part of the leftist conspiracy to foist liberalism and immorality on America. This account reveals a remarkable man who helped shape the current American religious landscape.

“Truth, as the old saying goes, can sometimes be stranger than fiction. In an important way, the book sketches out most of the major characteristics of American fundamentalism during these years while it addresses the details of Norris's personal ministry."—Church History

“Fine exploration of the regionalism of American fundamentalism. An illuminating portrait of the most popular fundamentalist preacher of the early twentieth century."—Filson Club Historical Quarterly

“Norris, a Texan who helped shift the center of fundamentalism from North to South, emerges as a thoroughly human and unapologetically cantankerous figure, a regional leader with national significance."—Booklist

“Fundamentalist leaders have often been colorful but few can match J. Frank Norris. . . . Hankins expertly weaves together the various threads of the Norris story, in the process filling a major gap in the scholarship of fundamentalism."—Choice

“A clear portrayal of the life and ministry of one of the most colorful Texans of his, or any other, era."—Faith & Mission

“Describes and analyzes Norris's career and outlook commendably."—Journal of Church and State

“Hankins has placed Norris within the context of his time and the movement he endorsed. The study is an accurate portrayal of a man who, more often than not, defies interpretation."—Journal of the American Studies Association of Texas

“Hankins has written an interesting and insightful book on an important fundamentalist leader."—North Carolina Historical Review

“The fact that Norris's role ranged from cantankerous to confrontational to criminal makes this investigation of his life and times simply fascinating. Whether considering his personal or his public life, one faces a remarkable figure. Hankins never pulls his punches."—Samuel Hill, professor emeritus, University of Florida

“A fine starting place for anyone interested in researching the long struggle between fundamentalists and moderates in the Southern Baptist Convention."—Southern Historian

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






J. Frank Norris, Fundamentalism, Baptists, Southern Baptist Convention


Christian Denominations and Sects

God's Rascal: J. Frank Norris and the Beginnings of Southern Fundamentalism
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