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The Christian Right in American Politics

The Christian Right in American Politics

From the first rumblings of the Moral Majority over twenty years ago, the Christian Right has been marshalling its forces and maneuvering its troops in an effort to reshape the landscape of American politics. It has fascinated social scientists and journalists as the first right-wing social movement in postwar America to achieve significant political and popular support, and it has repeatedly defied those who would step up to write its obituary. In 2000, while many touted the demise of the Christian Coalition, the broader undercurrents of the movement were instrumental in helping George W. Bush win the GOP nomination and the White House. Bush repaid that swell of support by choosing Senator John Ashcroft, once the movement’s favored presidential candidate, as attorney general.

The Christian Right in American Politics, under the direction of three of the nation’s leading scholars in the field of religion and politics, recognizing the movement as a force still to be reckoned with, undertakes the important task of making an historical analysis of the Christian Right in state politics during its heyday, 1980 to the millennium. Its twelve chapters review the impact and influence of the Christian Right in those states where it has had its most significant presence: South Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado, California, Maine, and Oregon and Washington.

Since 1980, scholars have learned a good deal about the social characteristics, religious doctrine, and political beliefs of activists in and supporters of the Christian Right in these states, and each contribution is based on rigorous, dispassionate scholarship. The writers explore the gains and losses of the movement as it attempts to reshape political landscapes. More precisely, they provide in-depth descriptions of the resources, organizations, and the group ecologies in which the Christian Right operates–the distinct elements that drove the movement forward.
As the editors state, “the Christian Right has been engaged in a long and torturous ‘march toward the millennium,’ from outsider status into the thick of American politics.” Those formative years, 1980-2000, are essential for any understanding of this uniquely American social movement. This rigorous analysis over many states and many elections provides the clearest picture yet of the goals, tactics, and hopes of the Christian Right in America.

Table of Contents

1. Advance and Retreat in the Palmetto State: Assessing the Christian Right in South Carolina
C. Danielle Vinson and James L. Guth

2. Virginia: Birthplace of the Christian Right
Mark J. Rozell and Clyde Wilcox

3. Texas: Religion and Politics in God’s Country
James W. Lamare, Jerry L. Polinard, and Robert D. Wrinkle

4. “A Necessary Annoyance”? The Christian Right and the Development of Republican Party Politics in Florida
Kenneth D. Wald and Richard K. Scher

5. The Christian Right’s Mixed Success in Michigan
Corwin E. Smidt and James M. Penning

6. Iowa: Crucible of the Christian Right
Donald P. Racheter, Lyman A. Kellstedt, and John C. Green

7. The Kansas Christian Right and the Evolution of Republican Politics

Allan J. Cigler, Mark Joslyn, and Burdett A. Loomis

8. Strong Bark, Weak Bite: Three Strengths and Liabilities of the Christian Right in Minnesota Politics
Christopher P. Gilbert and David A. M. Peterson

9. The Christian Right and the Cultural Divide in Colorado
Robert Zwier

10. The Christian Right in California: Dimming Fortunes in the Golden State
J. Christopher Soper and Joel S. Fetzer

11. The Christian Right in the Northwest: Two Decades of Frustration in Oregon and Washington
William M. Lunch

12. Citizen Initiative in Maine
Matthew C. Moen and Kenneth T. Palmer

The Meaning of the March: A Direction for Future Research
Clyde Wilcox, Mark J. Rozell, and John C. Green




“Several of the scholars in this project have tracked the Christian Right over the years, and we are indebted to them for our knowledge of its leaders, social characteristics, political beliefs, and impact on public policy’both at national and local levels.” ‘Journal of Church & State

“A nice addition to our knowledge of one of the most influential political movements in the United States. The diverse case studies effectively highlight both the movement’s strengths and weaknesses at the millennium, as well as the sometimes unique nature of religious political activism.” ‘Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

“These case studies are lively and readable, and it is clear that the authors want to share their fascination and enthusiasm for their subject. The book gives both an excellent overview of the current activities and strategies of the movement and a solid explanation of the nuances in each state’s political environment.” ‘Christian Century

“This volume brings together twelve timely case studies of Christian Right activism in one of its most influential settings’state politics. The distinguished team of authors highlight the evolving nature of the Christian Right movement and emphasize its varying levels of success and support in different state contexts.” ‘Laura R. Olson, author of Filled with Spirit and Power: Protestant Clergy in Politics

“The Christian Right in American Politics continues to prove that Green, Rozell, and Wilcox are among the leading scholars of religion and politics in the U. S. today. They and their contributors have given an historical overview of the Christian Right in politics across the country, pointing out the context of its successes and failures in the public arena. Further, they have woven together the meaning of these events into a cohesive picture for the present and future of the U. S. political process and public policy debate. Their contributions are enormous…again.” ‘Jo Renee Formicola, professor of political science, Seton Hall University.

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