Religious right

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The "Religious Right" also called the Christian Right was the organized Christian conservative movement in politics since the late 1970s.

It is an umbrella term that includes the Christian Coalition, the Moral Majority, the Christian Voice, and the Religious Roundtable, as well as unorganized movements.

It is based on the belief that the morality of our nation was eroding and that Christians had to be mobilized at the local level to pressure the political system to reverse the damage.

Contents

Origins

The 1976 presidential campaign of Jimmy Carter, a born again Southern Baptist excited many evangelicals; Carter swept most of the South. His administration proved disappointing, especially as Treasury officials tried to strip the tax exempt status of Bob Jones University. Much more important was the abortion issue, where Fundamentalists came around to the Catholic Church's strong opposition and formed a coalition to put right-to-life on the political agenda. This was a remarkable turnaround after centuries of mutual hostility between Catholics and Baptists.

In 1979 Rev. Jerry Falwell formed the "Moral Majority" and in 1980 religious conservatives, both Catholic and Protestants, enthusiastically supported Republican Ronald Reagan.

1992

At the 1992 GOP National Convention in Houston renominating President George H.W. Bush, many speakers appealed to the Religious Right, including Pat Buchanan, Pat Robertson, Marilyn Quayle, Sen. Phil Gramm, and Vice President Dan Quayle. They repeatedly proclaimed the party's mission to uphold religious and "traditional moral values" and accused the Democrats of a "radical plan" that would destroy these values. Declaring that the nation is in both a political and religious war, Buchanan charged that the nation is being overtaken by "barbarians" produced by the "public schools where God and the Ten Commandments and the Bible were long ago expelled." Important podium appearances were made by Ed Young, president of the Southern Baptist Convention; James Kennedy, pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church; E.V. Hill, pastor of the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles; and Don Argue, president of the National Association of Evangelicals.

In his prime-time speech Rev. Robertson accused Democratic nominee Bill Clinton of devising a plan to "destroy the traditional family and transfer many of its functions to the federal government." Jerry Falwell denounced the Democrats for failing to mention God in their platform, as did President Bush himself.

There was an undertone of anxiety, as shown when Robertson hosted a "God and Country" rally which attracted 3000 supporters of his Christian Coalition. Denying that the Religious Right had lost its political power, Robertson declared, "This is a resurrection here today. Reports of our death are greatly exaggerated."

The GOP platform, while affirming its neutrality toward any particular religion, declared, "We must not remain neutral toward religion itself or the values religion supports," particularly "our country's Judeo-Christian heritage." It charged that elements in the Democratic party, along with the media, entertainment industry, and academia, "are waging a guerrilla war against American values" and "disparage traditional morality, denigrate religion, and promote hostility toward the family's way of life."

Shortly after the convention renominated him, Bush was the keynote speaker in Dallas at the Religious Right political rally, "National Affairs Briefing". Other speakers included Falwell, Donald Wildmon, Phyllis Schlaffly, Oliver North, W.A. Criswell, Richard Land, Adrian Rogers, Tim LaHaye, Gary Bauer, Pat Buchanan, Paul Weyrich, and Ed McAteer.

Much of the Religious Right organizing in 1992 was handled by he Traditional Family Values Coalition (TVC), headed by Louis Sheldon; the Christian Coalition (CC), created and led by its president, Pat Robertson; Concerned Women for America (CWA), led by Beverly LaHaye; and the Family Research Council (FRC), a division of James Dobson's Focus on Family organization, but led by Gary Bauer. The groups sent out 40 million "Family Values Voters Guides '92" to churches across the nation. The Guided hinted that Bush was the best choice, without flatly stating so.

Culture wars

The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities were established in 1965 and were used by subsequent administrations to further their political principles or fund constituencies until the early 1990s, when the religious Right objected to the content of some funded programs and forced politicians to oppose them. The arts endowment supports mainly independent artists and well educated, but not necessarily well-off, audiences; the humanities endowment supports mainly academics. Both have aided local economies but not the national economy. The history profession was affected when, under pressure from conservatives, George Bush commissioned a project to establish national standards for teaching history. When the report was published in 1994, it called for a multicultural approach that angered conservatives. Bill Clinton added to the 'culture wars' when he arranged the arts funding to go to museums rather than avant-garde artists. The battle over who should define and support art and the humanities is still unsettled.[1]

Religious Left

There are not many advocates on the "Religious Left," a newly founded movement meant to weaken the impact of the religious right, argue that moral issues and traditional family values are not important, but focus should be placed in government run and administered secular social programs instead.

The religious left is declining in terms of influence and conservative Christianity is growing in influence because the religious left in Christianity are losing many members and conservative Christianity is growing especially overseas.[2][3][4]

Leaders of the Religious Right

Demographics and increasing influence of the religious right in America

See also: American atheism and Global Christianity

The Birkbeck College, University of London professor Eric Kaufman wrote in his 2010 book Shall the Righteous Inherit the Earth? concerning America:

High evangelical fertility rates more than compensated for losses to liberal Protestant sects during the twentieth century. In recent decades, white secularism has surged, but Latino and Asian religious immigration has taken up the slack, keeping secularism at bay. Across denominations, the fertility advantage of religious fundamentalists of all colours is significant and growing. After 2020, their demographic weight will begin to tip the balance in the culture wars towards the conservative side, ramping up pressure on hot-button issues such as abortion. By the end of the century, three quarters of America may be pro-life. Their activism will leap over the borders of the 'Redeemer Nation' to evangelize the world. Already, the rise of the World Congress of Families has launched a global religious right, its arms stretching across the bloody lines of the War on Terror to embrace the entire Abrahamic family.[5]

Increase of conservative Christianity within global Christianity

Hong Kong Christians at Gateway Camp. In 2005, there were four times as many non-Western World Christians as there were Western World Christians.[6]

(photo obtained from Flickr, see license agreement)

Christianity is the world's largest religion and it has seen tremendous growth over its 2000 year history.[7] Christianity has recently seen explosive growth outside the Western World which often has cultures which are very traditional and conservative.[8] In 2000, there were twice as many non-Western Christians as Western Christians.[9] In 2005, there were four times as many non-Western Christians as there were Western World Christians.[10] There are now more non-Western missionaries than Western missionaries.[11]

In 2011, the American Spectator declared concerning research published in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research:

The report estimates about 80,000 new Christians every day, 79,000 new Muslims every day, and 300 fewer atheists every day. These atheists are presumably disproportionately represented in the West, while religion is thriving in the Global South, where charismatic Christianity is exploding."[12]

Implications of the explosive growth of global Christianity on the religious right in the West

see also: Internet evangelism and Atheist population

It is thought that given the increase in the availability of public's access to global communications that the more theologically conservative non-Western Christianity could influence Western Christianity to move into more theologically conservative direction.[13] For example, non-Western Anglicans are exerting influence in the worldwide Anglican communion as far as the Anglican Communion's policy concerning homosexuality.[14][15]

External Links

Further reading

  • Blanchard, Dallas A. The Anti-Abortion Movement and the Rise of the Religious Right: From Polite to Fiery Protest (1994)
  • Freedman, Robert. "The Religious Right and the Carter Administration." Historical Journal 2005 48(1): 231-260,
  • Jensen, Richard. "The Culture Wars, 1965-1995: A Historian's Map," Journal of Social History 1995 29(supplement): 17-37,
  • Martin, William. With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America (1996)
  • Micklethwait, John, and Adrian Wooldridge. God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World (2009) excerpt and text search
  • Thomas, Cal, and Ed Dobson, Blinded By Might: Can the Religious Right Save America? (1999).
  • Wilcox, Clyde, and Carin Robinson. Onward Christian Soldiers?: The Religious Right in American Politics (2nd ed. 2006) excerpt and text search

References

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