J. Edgar Hoover’s Stained Glass Window: The FBI and Christian America


ACLS Fellowship Program


Danforth Center on Religion and Politics


J. Edgar Hoover’s Stained Glass Window chronicles how the religious culture of the FBI and its collaborations with clergy, faith communities, and parachurch organizations shaped Christian America. Specifically, the FBI under Hoover helped construct and legitimize popular notions of Christian America through its practice of religious devotion, deployment of religious rhetoric, and partnerships with the evangelical magazine Christianity Today, organizations such as the National Religious Broadcasters and the Ku Klux Klan. Moreover, Hoover’s FBI also teamed up with noted religious broadcasters including Billy Graham, Norman Vincent Peale, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, and Elder Lightfoot Solomon Michaux. Indeed, the Bureau’s relationship to religion was not limited to counterintelligence and surveillance; rather, the FBI was also a dynamic religious authenticator and collaborator. In the end, the project reveals that Hoover’s FBI was a significant force in molding Christian America during the twentieth century.