Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor

WINROD, GERALD (1900-1957)

Gerald Burton Winrod was a second-rank leader in the Protestant fundamentalist movement during the 1920s and the foremost farright activist in the Great Plains during the 1930s. Winrod was born on March 7, 1900, in Wichita, Kansas, where he grew up. In 1925 he founded the Defenders of the Christian Faith, and operating from in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas, he campaigned on the stump, over the radio, and in his Defender magazine against Darwinism, liberal theology, and what he called a national "moral sag." A believer in Bible prophecy, he found in world events signs of the rise of the Antichrist and Jesus' imminent return, but except for a fervent defense of Prohibition, he initially paid slight attention to conventional politics.

In 1933 Winrod quickly concluded that the cosmopolitan New Deal represented both the "moral sag" in politics and an alien tyranny. Combining his own premillennial theology with an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory found in The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, the notorious forgery concocted by Russian royalists at the turn of the twentieth century, he viewed the Roosevelt administration as part of a venerable Jewish plot extending back to the crucifixion of Jesus. By the mid-1930s, while still trying to convert Jews, he was applauding Adolf Hitler's suppression of alleged Jewish subversives. In 1938, temporarily playing down his anti-Semitism, Winrod ran for the U.S. Senate from Kansas and finished third in the Republican primary with 53,149 votes (21.4 percent).

Winrod's sympathy for Hitler and opposition to American entry into World War II led to his indictment for sedition in 1942. The case ended in a mistrial in 1946, and Winrod resumed his polemical activities, discerning further Jewish conspiracies and continued "moral sag" in the postwar era. A lifelong believer in faith healing, Winrod distrusted orthodox medicine and championed spurious cancer treatments. His refusal to consult a physician contributed in part to his own death from pneumonia in Wichita on November 11, 1957.

Leo P. Ribuffo George Washington University

Ribuffo, Leo P. The Old Christian Right: The Protestant Far Right from the Great Depression to the Cold War. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1983.

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