It may seem like a stretch to look for a connection between the oil industry and Christianity. But a new book by Darren Dochuck says these two larger-than-life entities both played important roles in building the country.
The book, titled “Anointed with Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America,” draws connections between the independent oilmen and wildcat Christianity. Dochuck says a lot of migration inside the United States has historically been tied directly to where and how oil money could be found, and a desire to practice religion in a certain way.
“At first it was a follow the money type story…” Dochuck says of his research. “As the project developed I found other ways that were quite imaginative, to bring it [the story= together.”
Dochuck is an associate professor of history at the University of Notre Dame. He has studied the role that oil played in Protestant Christianity, and how these interests led to the United States’ goal of “civilizing and Christianizing” the world.
Dochuck says businesspeople have a long history of donating money to Protestant church projects.
“Business and the church have always been closely linked…” Dochuch says. “It brings these two entities into even closer proximity with greater outcomes than in any other business sector within the American economy.”
Dochuck says that when it comes to oil, the Spindletop field was a huge turning point for Texas, and that the oil discovery gave Texas businessmen power and money they could never have imagine. Throughout the 1900s, through government legislation and by gaining positions of power, oil producers grew to have influence on federal law. In his book, Dochuck follows this through history, from Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency in the 1950s, to Ronald Reagan’s, and ultimately to Donald Trump, today.
Written by Marina Marquez.