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Definition: Bible Belt from The Macquarie Dictionary

an area, originally of the southern US, noted for its fundamentalist Christian religious beliefs.

(plural Bible Belts)


Summary Article: Bible Belt from Dictionary of American Government and Politics

The term 'Bible Belt' describes an area of the United States of America noted for its socially conservative Christian Evangelical Protestantism. Exact boundaries do not exist, but the Belt is usually considered to cover the area stretching from Texas in the Southwest, northwest to Kansas, north to most of Missouri, northeast to Virginia and southeast to northern Florida. Originally an Anglican stronghold, the region was transformed into a bastion of conservative Protestantism in the nineteenth century as it became the base for highly popular religious revivalist movements often associated with the Southern Baptist denomination. The phrase 'Bible Belt' was reputedly coined by the American journalist and social commentator H. L. Mencken in the early 1920s in his reporting of the Scopes ('monkey') Trial in Dayton, Tennessee in July 1925.

The term has subsequently been deployed by a range of social and political commentators, to suggest that discussion of education, politics and social change in the region is greatly influenced by religious faith and observance. Many of the social conservatives are religious fundamentalists who interpret every word of the Bible as being literally true, a position that influences their approach to issues such as abortion and gay rights. Many are also strongly Republican and, in presidential elections, states such as Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia have consistently supported the Republicans in the elections of the last thirty years.

© Duncan Watts, 2010

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