I wanted to post the following selection from the book Preaching Eugenics: Religious Leaders and the America Eugenics Movement:

On 8 May 1926, the Reverend Phillips Endecott Osgood, rector of St. Mark’s Church in Minneapolis, ascended the pulpit to deliver his 11:00 A.M. Sunday Sermon. […] That Sunday was Mother’s Day, and from his pulpit, designed in the form of a chalice and encircled by intricately carved figures of famous predicants, Rev. Osgood eschewed the usual praise of womanly virtues in favor of the exotica of an Oriental bazaar. Amid the haggling shopkeepers and motley crowds of such a bustling marketplace, Rev. Osgood told his congregation, you will come across a man quietly toiling over a charcoal brazier. He is a refiner, bent on his task of purging dross and alloy from his bubbling concoction of metals to reveal pure silver or gold. So, too, are we refiners, Osgood said, but with a very different task: improving the human race. “We see that the less fit members of society seem to breed fastest and the right types are less prolific,” Osgood preached, but he emphasized that a practical solution to this alarming problem was at hand. “Taking human nature as it is and not ignoring any legitimate emotion or tendency, eugenics aspires to the refiners work.” Decrying the “insane and criminal specimens of humanity” whose “slatternly daughters” and “idle, ignorant” sons strained social institutions, Osgood warned his flock, “Until the impurities of dross and alloy are purified out of our silver it cannot be taken unto the hands of the craftsman for whom the refining was done.” The Kingdom of God required eugenically fit believers, Osgood said: “Grapes cannot be gathered from thorns nor figs from thistles.”


Certain kinds of religious leader gravitated toward eugenics in the early twentieth century, ministers anxious about the changing culture but also eager to find solutions to its diagnosable ills. Theirs was a practical spirituality better understood in terms of worldviews than theologies. Many of the religious leaders who joined the eugenics movement were well-known, even notorious, for their lack of coherent doctrinal vision… And it was when these self-identified liberal and modernist religious men abandoned bedrock principles to seek relevance in modern debates that they were most likely to find themselves endorsing eugenics. Those who clung stubbornly to tradition, to doctrine, and to biblical infallibility opposed eugenics and bacame, for a time, the objects of derision for their rejection of this most modern science. (Preaching Eugenics, p3-5)

Related resources:

Against Their Will: North Carolina’s Sterilization Program A resource provided by the Winston Salem Journal about their investigation of North Carolina’s Eugenics Program which was controled by the Eugenics Board from 1929-1974.

Eugenics in the Golden State A collection of resources about California’s Eugenics program

Eugenics archive
a collection of resources and images relating to the Eugenics movement as a whole.