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.Crossposted from Talk to Action
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.”