Monthly Archives: June 2013

“Tracking Christianity’s Transformation: An Interview with James Ault” by Theo Anderson, in The Political Eye, Spring 2013

The following interview with me appeared recently in The Political Eye, the magazine of Political Research Associates, an organization dedicated, in its words, to “Challenging the Right, Advancing Social Justice.”

James Ault is a writer and documentary filmmaker based in Northampton, MA. His first
film, Born Again (1987), focused on the life of a fundamentalist Baptist church in Worcester,
MA. He later wrote a book about the same church, Spirit and Flesh (2004), which The
Washington Post called “the best single-volume explanation of why American fundamentalist
Christianity thrives among certain people.”

Ault wanted to explore the social bases of “family-value” politics among grassroots supporters
of the New Right, which was becoming a powerful political force when he began
his research in the early 1980s. He settled on the small, blue-collar “Shawmut River Baptist
Church” (a fictitious name Ault uses to protect the privacy of the subjects), whose pastor was
vice president of the Massachusetts chapter of Jerry Falwell’s political organization, the Moral
Majority. “As soon as I walked through its doors,” Ault said about his first visit to Shawmut
River, “I felt you could see the social world in which New Right enthusiasms made sense to its supporters. Families are gathered. You get to know things about their personal life. There’s no separation between private and public. It’s all there.”

Ault’s latest project is a two-part film series, African Christianity Rising, which focuses on Ghana and Zimbabwe. It documents Christianity’s “explosive growth” on the continent, showing the ways that it’s expanding and being adapted within African cultures. Information on Ault’s projects is available at

Read the article here.