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FBI and ReligionFaith and National Security before and after 9/11$
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Sylvester A. Johnson and Steven Weitzman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520287273

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520287273.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 06 June 2020

Policing Public Morality

Policing Public Morality

Hoover’s FBI, Obscenity, and Homosexuality

(p.134) 8 Policing Public Morality
FBI and Religion

Douglas M. Charles

University of California Press

Most Americans are familiar with the bromides of the so-called culture wars, particularly as public religious figures of the 1960s and 1970s decried the perceived decline of sexual decency and morality. In this chapter, Charles Douglas examines a lesser-known dimension of this topic: the FBI’s decades-long campaign against obscenity. Charles explains how as obscenity’s legal definition constantly evolved after 1957, leading to the growth and proliferation of both obscenity and pornography, the FBI perceived the two as fundamental threats to American morality and culture. Consequently J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI devoted substantial resources to counter these social changes through an educational campaign spearheaded through its Crime Records Division — the bureau’s public relations machinery. This chapter amplifies attention to how the moralism of the Hoover period motivated efforts to police public morality well into the 1970s and 1980s.

Keywords:   obscenity, homosexuality, public morality

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