Religion at Time Inc.: From the Beginning of Time to the End of Life


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




This project examines the role of religion in the production and circulation of ostensibly secular, mass-market news media. From 1923 to 1964, Time Incorporated, the media empire responsible for “Time,” “Life,” and “Fortune” magazines, was run by Henry R. Luce, a devout Presbyterian layman and sometime amateur theologian. Drawing on Time Inc.’s corporate archives, this research demonstrates that Time Inc.’s journalism was consistently molded to advance Luce’s theological principles. Chief among them was his conviction that the United States was divinely destined to a occupy a position of global supremacy. Beyond the magazines, his corporation underwrote religiously motivated campaigns to secure US power abroad. By telling the story of “Religion at Time Inc.”, this project provides crucial insight into the motivations and values that shaped highly visible popular news media throughout the twentieth century.