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Earlier this year, I published a report in The Public Eye about the historic convergence in the politics of the protestant evangelical Christian Right and the Roman Catholic Bishops.  This convergence, decades in the making, fully emerged in the publication of the 2009 manifesto, The Manhattan Declaration, in which more than 50 Catholic Bishops and such familiar Christian Right figures as Tony Perkins, James Dobson and Samuel Rodriguez expressed solidarity to the point of civil disobedience on three interrelated matters: life, marriage, and religious liberty. In that order.

Simon Brown, writing in the November 2013 issue of Church & State magazine, has picked-up on this theme. He observes that far from the Religious Right being dead, as has been so frequently declared by people who really should know better, it is "alive and kicking" and epitomized by this regenerative alliance.  

Here are a few excerpts.

Just two years after Obama’s election in 2008 – which some political pundits insisted had ushered in a new, progressive era of American politics – a band of extreme “Tea Party” candidates swept into the U.S. Con­gress, aided and abetted by allies in the Religious Right.

The Tea Party, which some political analysts insist is just the Religious Right with a new name, also holds control or significant influence in 24 state legislatures.

Prime examples are North Carolina, which has passed one regressive law after another since 2010, including severe limits on abortion; Kansas, which has pursued the Religi­ous Right’s social-issues agenda with a vengeance and Texas, which is trying to close most abortion clinics in the state, and where, thanks to prodding by Religious Right groups, a new law makes it clear that everyone has the right to say “Merry Christmas.”

The Religious Right also hopes to maintain control of its flock through education. Clarkson pointed to homeschooling, as well as fundamentalist-founded universities, as sources for keeping their ranks stocked with Religious Right ideologues.

“There is a vast infrastructure of schools, churches, organizations and media outlets that did not exist a generation ago,” Clarkson said. “Ditto with the growth of Christian home schooling; that has helped propel several presidential campaigns, including that of Mike Huckabee. Liberty University, founded by the late Jerry Falwell, became the largest Christian university in the world in just a few decades. Can we think of any other institution of higher learning that has grown so much so fast anywhere in the U.S?”

Given these efforts, Clarkson said it would be a terrible mistake to ever dis­miss the Religious Right as irrelevant.

“Denialism is a major problem that hobbles learning, constructive thought, good reporting, good scholarship and effective political action in relation to the Religious Right, one of the most significant and dynamic movements in American history,” he said. “Every movement has its ups and downs. Leaders, organizations, and institutions come and go. But it is wrong to read every downturn or scandal as definitive evidence of the death or decline of a movement that has proved itself to be so resilient.”

Crossposted from Talk to Action

Originally posted to Frederick Clarkson on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 06:59 PM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets and Pro Choice.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you for reminding (9+ / 0-)

    all of us not to count out the religious right and their influence.

    The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.― Neil deGrasse Tyson

    by maggiejean on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 07:45:59 PM PDT

  •  They are persistent. (6+ / 0-)

    And they have waged this fight for years.

    Abortion Clinics OnLine, the world's first and largest source for online abortion clinic information. Join my DK Abortion Group.

    by annrose on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 08:25:53 PM PDT

  •  The far-far-right religious movements (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maggid, JGibson

    do not exist in a vacuum.  We've known for decades that fundamentalist religious movements, especially the Apocalyptic variants, flourish in times of economic inequality and hardship.

    As with schooling, and so many other social ills, the root of the dysfunction is in the increasing economic marginalization of a large segment of the population.  And the media, such as it is, will go to any and all lengths necessary to avoid talking about this or to obfuscate the issue.

    Obviously, attempting to refute the Apocalyptic worldview of these believers without doing anything about the underlying economic problems will not work any better than 'education reform' is improving the lot of poor kids in economically-depressed neighborhoods.

    190 milliseconds....

    by Kingsmeg on Fri Nov 01, 2013 at 09:30:20 PM PDT

    •  Actually (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Larsstephens, nancyjones

      the religious right has flourished through even good economic times; growing in political and economic strength, all during the Clinton years, for example. There are many factors at work and not just economics.  I try to describe some of them here, including in this case, an alliance that his historic in the history of our country, and arguably in the history of Christianity.  

      •  Even in comparatively good (0+ / 0-)

        economic times, the US is still highly stratified by economic class, with a large underclass of 'invisible' people.  Granted, membership in far-right chuches and Apocalyptic chuches cannot be predicted by class alone, however there is a direct link between the two.  

        I forget the name of the sociologist who wrote the original study, but he went back as far as the original Y1K (just before year 1000), and studied the comings and goings of 'end-times' philosophies, and found that they correlated very strongly to economic inequality and downturns.  I have the study in my box of papers in the attic, but it would take many hours to find it among the thousands of articles I have printed out from my time in academia.  I was a fanatical researcher but a terrible writer.

        190 milliseconds....

        by Kingsmeg on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 09:01:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The religous right (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SouthernLeveller

          is a religio-political movement and is not solely about apocalyptic churches, although that is certainly an important element.  One of the difficulties we have in discussing these things, is agreeing on exactly what it is we are talking about and defining our terms.

          There was a lot of stuff that came out of Boston University's Center for Millennial Studies, some years ago, which may be what you are referring to here.

        •  Kingsmeg, one of the most memorable books (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mokurai

          I have read is The Pursuit of the Millenium, which is justly considered a classic.  It is utterly brilliant, and judging from the updates that the author has done, perhaps it deserves a second read.  My memory of the book (many moons ago,) is that these movements were caused by a fusion of reasons, not the least of which was the repression of the rcxch and natural disasters,  and that poverty was not the main reason.  

          From one reviewer on Amazon (Antonio):

          Cohn's book tells the story in just the right detail. He shows that certain regions were particularly sensitive to the millennarian prophets. Many such arose in the Northwestern corner of Europe (Northeastern France, the Benelux countries, the Rhineland in Germany). He also shows that generally poor people have had rational aims: to use pressure in order to improve their lot by acquisition of certain rights. Only a minority has felt the attraction of millennarian revolutions, and these usually have been uprooted people without a settled role. Also, these revolutionary initiatives were able to succeed (even if for a short while) only in times of chaos or unrest (i.e., the Crusades, visitations of the plague or black death, economic crises, etc.). Usually the self-appointed prophets used the social disruption in order to further their cause and take advantage from the momentary weakness of defenders of the status quo.
          my bold.

          and another reviewer (J. Michael) connects the dots to today:

          The apocalyptic DNA strand was never eradicated from the human animal and will surely resurface in the Christian world when the conditions are right. Those conditions, among which are social dislocation, cultural deracination, political corruption, establishment-religion apathy and hypocrisy, have been rising to an extreme heat since the 1960s. Millions of people have been, and will continue to be, severed from traditional means of understanding the world and will find meaning by turning to the deviant and heterodox forms of Christianity that have proliferated in the past 30 years in America. The powerful leaders of these faith groups provide certainty, spirituality and carnal satisfaction with prophecies, visions, "miracles", divine revelations, new experiences via mind-altering practices, promises of earthly prosperity and a sense of belonging by exacerbating the hostility with "the world". Apocalyptic theology is an ever-present theme. The followers of these televangelist messiahs are peaceable enough now, but should their bellies ever be shrunken by an economic downturn- the last of the necessary conditions- we will see violent millenarian movements like nothing the world has ever known. If you're interested in what that kind of world may look like, read this book.
          my bold

          and from 'zosimos':

          The Pursuit of the Millennium_ takes a look at the mass movements and delusions that developed out of this tradition in the Middle Ages and the period following the Middle Ages, the Reformation. Norman Cohn shows how prejudices and hatreds among the poor (especially against the Jews, the clergy, and the wealthy) were used by mystical prophetae in conjunction with the apocalyptic tradition to give rise to mass movements which resulted in much mayhem and bloodshed.
          my bold

          The alliance of the Religious Right and Catholic Bishops to fuel the Tea Party and its many supporters, use the same approach of appealing to prejudices and hatreds of its members and insulate them with the theme of persecution.  And as this diary points out, this combined movement is moving from dissent to the borders of violence.

          So, my original intent in finding the link to this book was to mention that I remember from reading it that poverty wasn't the only reason at all.

          However, reminding myself of the content and reviewing the reviews, it strikes me that a lot of the ideological/theological striving from the past is being repeated today; it makes it clear to me just what a cult this current group is and how their demands to set up a theocracy based on their view of god, sounds very familiar to the cults of the past.

          But this time around, they have big money backing them.

          Dangerous combo.

          We Must DISARM THE NRA The next life you save may be ONE OF YOUR OWN!

          by SeaTurtle on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 11:19:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The root of all evil is greed (0+ / 0-)

    Not just greed for money but greed for power and when it comes to power the so called religious right has shown an unbelievably amount of greed. One thing I would not do is ever call this collection of superstitious fools Christian. There not. A cross between Calvinism and Satanism is what they most resemble. Sadly the reports of there demise are greatly exaggerate. But then true evil never dies it just keep coming back with a new name

  •  Mind Blowing.... I just read both articles linked (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frederick Clarkson

    in this diary and highly recommend that others concerned about the continuing theocratic attempts to takeover our government, do the same.  To say that those groups and attempts are "Alive and Kicking" is putting it mildly.

    These articles are exceptionally informative, illustrative, well written and clear, so learning is easily facilitated.

    It is going to take some time for me to digest all the information.

    Thanks just does not do it.  But thank you very much, Fred, anyway.  And also the group with you that works on these issues as well.

    Read these articles, Folks!

    We Must DISARM THE NRA The next life you save may be ONE OF YOUR OWN!

    by SeaTurtle on Sat Nov 02, 2013 at 07:31:39 AM PDT

  •  Special Rites, Protections Privileges 4 Christians (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SeaTurtle

    Special Rites, Protections, and Privileges Under the Law, Only for Christians!

    How stupid people in Congress use tax payer's money: Making idiotic laws like the one in Texas that states everyone has a legal right to say "Merry Christmas". As harmless and ridiculous this is, it allows Christians the ability to refuse to say "Happy Holidays" when their employers want the to be more inclusive to customers. So these rabid religious folks waste money so they can have special rights and privileges under the law, making them the one class of people who have more rights and protections under the law more than any other group in the USA. But, if anyone else wants to be inclusive to say gays or Muslims, they claim it is anti-Christian, which is why they make the laws, so they are the perpetual victims, protected by law, like no one else. Do people still have to ask why I hate these F-ing people?

  •  While I usually avoid Al Sharpton's (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JGibson, SeaTurtle, SouthernLeveller

    show because his delivery is annoying, he did a segment on how the Tea Party IS the Religious Right and I think he also mentioned that most of the media misses this or ignores it.

  •  Tea-Party and Religious Right Work Together (0+ / 0-)

    GOP + T-Party = Religious Right / Anti: Any Minority = Theocracy

    Tea-Party and Religious Right Work Together
    (Hitler's Successful Recipe)

    * Right-wing coup: Deluded secessionists have already won -
    Conservative secessionists want their own country? Their agenda already rules, even though a majority opposes it. By David Sirota: http://www.salon.com/...

    * The seven back-stabbing, turncoat, worthless Democrats who joined GOP on HR368, to deny clean CR: http://www.dailykos.com/...

    * 9 (+) Democrats Already Caving to GOP On Social Security Cuts: http://www.alternet.org/...

    * 30 House Democrats joined GOP, Voted to delay new Depart Of Labor rule that would prevent Financial Advisers from stealing from your 401(k)s and IRAs
    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    * Cory Booker - Another T-Party Democrat - Ed Silvoso-Backed Anti-Union 'Transformation' in Newark, New Jersey: http://www.talk2action.org/...

    * Rich Tea-Baggers and their hedge fund, companies, organizations, etc. are funding and endorsing John Connolly who is TeaParty Democrat running for Mayor of Boston MA in Nov 5th election. http://www.bostonglobe.com/...

    * Anti-Gay Christians Target Vallejo, CA Government, With Democratic Party Help Oct 22, 2013
    http://www.talk2action.org/...

    * How Ken Cuccinelli’s Position On Sodomy Could Set Numerous Sexual Predators Free, Oct 24, 2013 http://thinkprogress.org/...

  •  As a member of the Christian Left, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SeaTurtle, Frederick Clarkson

    I have been hearing of the quick demise of the Christian Right since it emerged as a political force c. 1979. The rumors have always been false and no one should fall for them.

    "I was not born for myself alone, but for my neighbor as well as myself."--Richard Overton, leader of the Levellers, a17th C. movement for democracy and equality during the English Civil War. http://www.kynect.ky.gov/ for healthcare coverage in Kentucky

    by SouthernLeveller on Sun Nov 03, 2013 at 01:38:05 AM PDT

  •  Mr. Clarkson, I hv. read much re. Relig.Rt.Now... (0+ / 0-)

    ...read the way to ultimately counter them in there Dominionist
    efforts. Numbers can eventually outdo them, IMO.

    Here is how. Provide support for the "Secular Student Alliance".

    https://webmail.iu.edu/...

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