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The Enduring Influence of the Christian Right

by Sara Diamond

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 1-57230-385-9

A critical investigation of the persistent presence of the Christian right in contemporary American political and cultural struggles. Here Diamond continues her studies of the American political right begun in Roads to Dominion (1995) and other works, focusing this time on the diffuse yet cohesive assembly of conservative Protestant organizations collectively termed the “Christian right.” How is it, she wonders, that the right’s influence continues unabated, despite strong challenges to its highly conservative social agenda in the form of a liberal Democratic presidency and the general popular acceptance of issues such as abortion and gay rights? Her answer: The Christian right is many things. It’s a political coalition with strong ties to and influence on the Republican Party, but it’s also a subculture that provides, as she puts it, “a safe haven” when political success is not forthcoming. Through the media, church and community organizations, and other avenues, the right creates a strong ideology. The ideology propagates the notion that this is a persecuted group battling immoral enemies—e.g., abortion doctors, gay employees—in an eternal struggle between good and evil. In such a context, momentary political travails are of little consequence. The Christian right also operates at national and local levels, and with multiple strategies. While struggling for control of local schools over issues such as sex education and secular curriculum, the organization has also developed a strong network of home-schooling activists and practitioners. Finally, the right has shown the capacity to evolve. That’s evident in its current emphasis on what it terms “racial reconciliation,” the renunciation of a generally racist past and the active recruitment of people of color into its ranks. Thus, as Diamond points out, even those opposed to the Christian right shouldn—t simply dismiss it. Scholarship with a point of view; a highly informative case study.