Essay 2, Chapter 3: "The Christian Right"

Chapter 3: The Christian Right

#Hunter: "Christians who are politically conservative want what all people want: namely, to have the world in which they live reflect their own likeness." (111)

That is, the Christian right wants American to reflect their highest ideals, esp. concerning sexual and family relationships. And it is a response to the intellectual and cultural challenges to the faith and the moral authority of the Christian church.

There was a time when the Chr. church held a central moral authority in America and Europe. It does not anymore. That decline of authority allows the Chr. right to position themselves as victims in the cultural war.

Just to be clear, for Hunter, Chr. Right = Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, conservative Catholics and Charismatics. His def. is wide.

Central to the Chr. Right's understanding of power is its constitutive "myth" centered on the right ordering of society. Some see America's past as essentially Christians. Others see the past as a time when Christians had more input in publ. discourse.

This construction of the past provides a "deed of trust" and a "sense of ownership," i.e. "America belongs to the people of faith." (114) That is to say, the principles of God's righteousness provided America with the principles of "ordered freedom." (114) Liberty, order, hard work that leads to prosperity, all provide the moral and spiritual foundations for America's greatness.
But for the Chr. Right, that heritage is being threatened by secularization and hostility towards religion. The radical elements of society threaten to destroy America's soul. (That sounds extreme, but it reflects their rhetoric). Such radicalism can be found in the press, Hollywood, political action groups, education, but esp. in the courts.

This reading of history enables the Chr. Right to place themselves (and all good Americans) as victims of radicalism. The literature of the Chr. Right is full of stories of Christians persecuted in schools and universities, or by pol. action groups. The relentless nature of these perceived attacks (by lib. media, politics, educators, etc.) is used to mobilize Christians. Some Chr. Right leaders go so far as to declare that they are in Civil War. In that context, Christians are called to infl. culture.

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