Some eugenicists regarded their field as a way of life akin to a religion. This is evident in Davenport's 1916 zealous little booklet, Eugenics as a Religion, including a 12-point creed he recited at the Golden Jubilee Celebration of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. One point of the creed was, "I believe that I am the trustee of the germ plasm that I carry, that this has been passed on to me through thousands of generations before me; and that I betray the trust if...I so act as to jeopardize it, with its excellent possibilities, or, from motives of personal convenience, to unduly limit offspring."

The eugenics movement appealed to almost all segments of society, because it seemed to aim at human betterment. Many religious groups found eugenics a welcome addition to their existing charity work and social services. For example, the Congregational parish of Reverend Oscar McCulloch in Indianapolis offered a lending library, prenatal and child care, visiting nurses, and literacy classes. McCulloch believed that good marriages required church support and he became interested in the new eugenics being introduced by his friend and parishioner, David Starr Jordan. McCulloch studied the Tribe of Ishmael, a "degenerate" extended family living in Indianapolis.

Sermon contests, including a national competition sponsored by the American Eugenics Society, were a popular form of religious involvement in eugenics. Entries in these contests present scripture citations to support the compatibility of religious and eugenics principles. Until the Vatican ruled eugenics unacceptable in the mid-1920s, some Catholic priests and theologians promoted eugenics. They argued that the Church had always restricted marriage through rules such as bans on cousin marriages.


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