Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ

The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America

By John G. Turner

304 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 20 illus., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5873-8
    Published: March 2008
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-8910-7
    Published: November 2009
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8159-5
    Published: November 2009

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Awards & distinctions

2009 Christianity Today Book Award

Founded as a local college ministry in 1951, Campus Crusade for Christ has become one of the world's largest evangelical organizations, today boasting an annual budget of more than $500 million. Nondenominational organizations like Campus Crusade account for much of modern evangelicalism's dynamism and adaptation to mainstream American culture. Despite the importance of these "parachurch" organizations, says John Turner, historians have largely ignored them.

Turner offers an accessible and colorful history of Campus Crusade and its founder, Bill Bright, whose marketing and fund-raising acumen transformed the organization into an international evangelical empire. Drawing on archival materials and more than one hundred interviews, Turner challenges the dominant narrative of the secularization of higher education, demonstrating how Campus Crusade helped reestablish evangelical Christianity as a visible subculture on American campuses. Beyond the campus, Bright expanded evangelicalism's influence in the worlds of business and politics. As Turner demonstrates, the story of Campus Crusade reflects the halting movement of evangelicalism into mainstream American society: its awkward marriage with conservative politics, its hesitancy over gender roles and sexuality, and its growing affluence.

About the Author

John G. Turner is assistant professor of history at the University of South Alabama.
For more information about John G. Turner, visit the Author Page.


"Anyone who wants to understand modern American evangelicalism and its impact on the nation's culture and politics will find Turner's book informative and rewarding."--Georgia Historical Quarterly

"[An] intelligently contextualized biography. . . . Turner has done a wonderful job of bringing Bill Bright out of the shadow of Billy Graham and thereby greatly enhancing our understanding of the new evangelicalism."--The Journal of American History

"Carefully researched and well-written. . . . An informative and erudite book that will be welcomed by students of American religious history--The Alabama Review

"Crisply written and well-crafted. . . . An important contribution to a new generation of evangelical historiography."--Journal of Southern History

"Sheds new light on the past half-century of religious life in the United States, and the author is to be commended for developing the history without becoming either defender or mocker of the subject. . . . Exceptionally well done . . . it deserves a wide audience of professional and amateur historians alike."--Maryland Historical Magazine

"A useful supplement for courses on American Christianity. . . . We need more books like Turner's to deepen our understanding."--Church History