Emily Suzanne Johnson is an assistant professor of History at Ball State University in Muncie, IN. Johnson’s research focuses on gender, sexuality, religion, and politics in the twentieth and twenty-first century United States. She is the author of This Is Our Message: Women’s Leadership in the New Christian Right (2019). This book provides the first in-depth study of many nationally prominent women who helped to shape the modern religious right during its ascendancy in the 1970s and 1980s. It features analyses of the lives and work of evangelical sex advice author Marabel Morgan, anti-gay-rights activist Anita Bryant, Concerned Women for America founder Beverly LaHaye, and televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker; it ends with an examination of the more recent political campaigns of Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. Through the perspective of collective biography, the book demonstrates how women’s national leadership was essential to building this profoundly significant and often explicitly anti-feminist movement. Johnson’s work has been featured in popular forums such as Religion & Politics, Nursing Clio, and the Washington Post. She is currently working on a project aimed at building an archive of oral histories related to the LGBTQ+ history of Muncie, Indiana. She is also working toward a second book project, with will examine the cultural history of Satanism and “Satanic panics” in the United States from the 1920s to the present.
In the late 1970s, gay-rights activists faced off against evangelical pop singer and Florida orange juice spokeswoman Anita Bryant. Their boycott against Florida Orange Juice has become the stuff of legend among LGBTQ+ activists and conservative Christians alike. But archival research contradicts popular narratives about the boycott's success. This talk examines the relationship between mythmaking and history, and demonstrates how a story can wield its own power and make real change.