New book: How Alaska’s pipeline shaped America’s Religious Right

KL Marshall, originally from Texas but currently living in Alaska (thanks to COVID-19 shuttering her graduate school), is an academic writing her doctoral thesis at the University of Edinburgh School of Divinity.

Her topic is an examination of dispensationalism, a religious interpretation of the Bible that says biblical history is divided into eras, or dispensations, and that God governs these eras differently. It’s complex, but surprisingly relevant to Alaska and American politics of the moment.

Along the way, as she researched, she says she kept coming upon references to Alaska, the oil pipeline, Rev. Jerry Prevo, and former Gov. Sarah Palin. So last summer she traveled here to try and understand why Alaska and Alaskans were popping up in her research. The result is this new book, just out in May.

Here is how Marshall describes the book:

Faith and Oil tells the story of conservative Christianity’s relationship with America’s oil industry. It shows how the libertarian values of big oil companies–such as government deregulation of business practices and curbing laws that protect the environment–became embedded within the theologies of the Religious Right. These theologies of oil later found their being in the public consciousness through the rise of Sarah Palin and led to the election of Donald Trump.

We live in an oil state. Sarah Palin was our governor. Donald Trump is our president. The connection is intriguing and worth exploring. That’s the goal of today’s program.

It is worth noting that Marshall’s book has strong endorsements from two established academics and students of religion and politics. They are Dr. Darren Dochuk, a history professor at Notre Dame University, and a guest on today’s program, and Dr. Mark Noll, who has had long affiliations with both Wheaton College in Illinois and Notre Dame. Both have studied the intersection of religion and politics in American life. Please join us.

HOST: Kathleen McCoy


  • KL Marshall, author of “Faith and Oil: How the Alaska Pipeline shaped America’s Religious Right”
  • Darren Dochuk, author of “Anointed with Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America,” history professor at Notre Dame University
  • Holly Pivec, Evangelical researcher of new religious movements



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