In The Antigay Agenda, Didi Herman probes the values, beliefs, and rhetoric of the organizations of the Christian Right. Tracing the emergence of their antigay agenda, Herman explores how and why these groups made antigay activity a top priority, and how it relates to their political history.
"A penetrating analysis of the Christian Right's antigay agenda and of how that agenda is derived from the Christian Right's peculiar vision of American history and the Christian faith."—Rev. Peter J. Gomes, Boston Book Review
"Public intellectualism at its best. . . . A comprehensive summary of the conservative Protestant worldview."—Michael Joseph Gross, Boston Phoenix Literary Section
"Presents considerable information not previously part of the nation's political discourse. . . . [Herman] dissects the Christian Right's antigay stance dispassionately giving, as it were, the devil his due. For anyone on either side of this passionate and important conflict, that is an impressive accomplishment."—Hastings Wyman, Jr., Washington Post Book World
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 re-shape 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, written by outstanding scholars, 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 re-shape 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.
Recently publishers on the Christian Right have been reprinting nineteenth-century children's history books and marketing them to parents as "anchor texts" for homeschool instruction. Why, Gregory M. Pfitzer asks, would books written more than 150 years ago be presumed suitable for educating twenty-first-century children? The answer, he proposes, is that promoters of these recycled works believe that history as a discipline took a wrong turn in the early twentieth century, when progressive educators introduced social studies methodologies into public school history classrooms, foisting upon unsuspecting and vulnerable children ideologically distorted history books.
In History Repeating Itself, Pfitzer tests these assertions by scrutinizing and contextualizing the original nineteenth-century texts on which these republications are based. He focuses on how the writers borrowed from one another to produce works that were similar in many ways yet differed markedly in terms of pedagogical strategy and philosophy of history. Pfitzer demonstrates that far from being non-ideological, these works were rooted in intense contemporary debates over changing conceptions of childhood.
Pfitzer argues that the repurposing of antiquated texts reveals a misplaced resistance to the idea of a contested past. He also raises essential philosophical questions about how and why curricular decisions are shaped by the "past we choose to remember" on behalf of our children.
In Native Americans and the Christian Right, Andrea Smith advances social movement theory beyond simplistic understandings of social-justice activism as either right-wing or left-wing and urges a more open-minded approach to the role of religion in social movements. In examining the interplay of biblical scripture, gender, and nationalism in Christian Right and Native American activism, Smith rethinks the nature of political strategy and alliance-building for progressive purposes, highlighting the potential of unlikely alliances, termed “cowboys and Indians coalitions” by one of her Native activist interviewees. She also complicates ideas about identity, resistance, accommodation, and acquiescence in relation to social-justice activism.
Smith draws on archival research, interviews, and her own participation in Native struggles and Christian Right conferences and events. She considers American Indian activism within the Promise Keepers and new Charismatic movements. She also explores specific opportunities for building unlikely alliances. For instance, while evangelicals’ understanding of the relationship between the Bible and the state may lead to reactionary positions on issues including homosexuality, civil rights, and abortion, it also supports a relatively progressive position on prison reform. In terms of evangelical and Native American feminisms, she reveals antiviolence organizing to be a galvanizing force within both communities, discusses theories of coalition politics among both evangelical and indigenous women, and considers Native women’s visions of sovereignty and nationhood. Smith concludes with a reflection on the implications of her research for the field of Native American studies.
If there is a "culture war" taking place in the United States, one of the most interesting, if under-the-radar, battlegrounds is in local school board elections. Rarely does the pitch of this battle reach national attention, as it did in Kansas when the state school board—led by several outspoken conservative Christians—voted to delete evolution from the state's science curriculum and its standardized tests in August 1999. That action rattled not only the educational and scientific communities, but concerned citizens around the nation as well.
While the movement of the Christian Right into national and state politics has been well documented, this is the first book to examine their impact on local school board politics. While the Kansas decision was short-lived, during the past decade in school districts around the country, conservative Christian majorities have voted to place limits on sex education, to restrict library books, to remove references to gays and lesbians in the classroom, and to promote American culture as superior to other cultures.
School Board Battles studies the motivation, strategies, and electoral success of Christian Right school board candidates. Based on interviews, and using an extensive national survey of candidates as well as case studies of two school districts in which conservative Christians ran and served on local boards, Melissa M. Deckman gives us a surprisingly complex picture of these candidates. She reveals weaker ties to national Christian Right organizations—and more similarities between these conservative candidates and their more secular counterparts than might be expected.
Deckman examines important questions: Why do conservative Christians run for school boards? How much influence has the Christian Right actually had on school boards? How do conservative Christians govern? School Board Battles is an in-depth and in-the-trenches look at an important encounter in the "culture war"—one that may well determine the future of our nation's youth.
The Transformation of the Christian Right chronicles and analyzes the remarkable changes that have occurred in the Christian Right from its emergence in the late 1970s to the present. It documents the rapid turnover of Christian-Right organizations and explains the forces driving that kaleidoscopic change. Moen also traces the strategic shift of the movement’s leaders, away from lobbying the Congress and toward mobilizing conservative activists in the grass roots; he demonstrates the substitution of liberal language (with its emphasis on “equality, rights, and freedom”) for moralistic language (with its focus on “right and wrong”). Much has been written about the Christian Right’s impact on politics but little about how years of political activism have shaped and influenced the Christian Right. Moen addresses that neglected side of the issue.
The Christian Right never ceases to surprise professional observers of American politics. With the Christian coalition in disarray, many expected that the movement would play less of a role in the 2004 elections. But when exit polls reported that "moral values" were the most commonly cited reason for presidential vote choice, pundits immediately proclaimed the importance of the "values vote." Yet the role of the Christian Right, of statewide referenda on same-sex marriage, and of religious mobilization remained the subject of debate. The Values Campaign? The Christian Right and the 2004 Elections reaches well beyond the instant analyses of the post-election period to provide an assessment of the role of the religious right in 2004. The contributors to this volume are among the leading scholars of religion and politics in the United States, and many have contributed for over a decade to ongoing discussions of the role played by the religious right in national elections.
The authors consider national mobilization and issues, and also explore the role of the Christian Right in specific states. Their evaluations contend that the "values campaign" was not an aberration but a consistent pattern of national politics, and that moral traditionalism will likely continue to be a significant factor in future elections.
A timely study of the 2004 elections, this volume will appeal to scholars and observers of electoral politics, state politics, and religion and politics.