Religion and Right-wing Politics: How Evangelical Elections Reshaped

“We will protect Christianity.” As the midterm elections approached, white evangelical Christians are an important part of the republican coalition and have remained loyal to the president through a series of scandals. “Do you care if your president had an affair before he was president?” “No.” “I think he’s President of the United States for a reason. I believe God brought him there. ”But 40 years ago evangelicals were on the fringes of American politics. “I think the decision was made in 1979 that it was okay to be like any other citizen and get involved in politics.” “We consider evangelicals to be an important force in American society today, and certainly in American politics. But they weren’t in the mid-1970s. Evangelicals were not politically engaged, least of all organized. Many weren’t even registered to vote. They thought politics was dirty and somehow below them. “” Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! ” “Until Jimmy Carter came.” Jimmy Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign put faith at the center of national conversation. He read the Bible every night, taught Sunday school, and had occasionally preached in Robert Maddox’s Church. “There were questions about what kind of religion he had. And he said, ‘Well, I’m a born again Christian.’ ”“ The most important thing in my life is Jesus Christ. ”“ The whole press and everyone else wanted to know what in the world it was, what kind of magic, what kind of charade he would have gone through. ” “We checked the religious significance of Carter’s profound experience. It is described by other Baptists as a shared experience, not something extraordinary. Being born again doesn’t mean having a vision or hearing the voice of God. “” The press picked up on that and made a big deal of it. But it was an important moment for evangelical voters. To have a presidential candidate who speaks openly about his beliefs – it was mind blowing. “” Like every American, Jimmy Carter made it respectable to be born again. “There seems to be a longing for some kind of spiritual awakening in this country. And whether planned or not, Jimmy Carter’s religion might turn out to be a net plus. “” And I believe that if I get elected, I believe that if I’m elected, I can be a better president. ” Carter became known as the first evangelical president. “Thank you for helping me come here and be the president of the greatest country in the world.” But two years after Carter’s tenure, Rev. Maddox, who now works in the White House, met with a group of preachers and got a surprising reaction. “Immediately, from the ground, just broken out. Shouts and boos and, and, you know, fists were shaking. “He told us he was religious and he isn’t.” I went back to the White House and said, ‘Friends, we have a big problem out there.’ ” “For me and for many other evangelicals there was a gap between his personal beliefs and public order.” that some of Carter’s policies were more liberal than many evangelicals had hoped. “From a political point of view, they were turned off. One of his key advisors was the woman who represented the Roe v Wade case in the Supreme Court. He had a conference in the White House on families – plural – and included gays and lesbians. “” If you look at the world from the perspective of an evangelical Christian, you have Roe against Wade. We no longer pray in school. They have desegregated Christian colleges and academies. All of these things come together and create great fear of losing a Christian nation. “And I also believe in freedom of choice, but I believe you should make choices before you go to bed and commit sin.” Rev. Jerry Falwell became the best known of a new movement of conservative preachers who wanted strong defense policies abroad and traditional values ​​at home. “We believe that when a man marries a woman, she is his lifelong commitment.” It was a movement that harnessed the power of television. “Television really broke out in the 1970s, and Jerry Falwell rode that wave.” “Jerry Falwell turned a small church of 35 in Virginia into a Christian communications empire.” “A television preacher from Virginia to an audience of millions.” As the election As 1980 got closer, Falwell stepped straight into politics and formed an alliance with a group of political activists, including Paul Weyrich. “Weyrich says that there really is a moral majority of voters out there that needs to be tapped, organized. And Falwell says, “I think that’s what we should call this new movement. We should call it a Moral Majority. ‘”“ It’s a political action committee that is registered as such, just like that of unions or other organizations. ”“ A new political machine against abortion, anti-ERA, anti-gay Right is and for what he calls a ‘moral America.’ ” Cal Thomas, a Washington journalist, worked for Falwell. “He invited me to Lynchburg, Virginia, and said we are going to lead a movement that will change America. Well, who could not be involved in something like this? We hoped to complete the political organization of Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, Conservative Jews and Conservative Catholics into a large electoral bloc that elects like-minded people to public office and restores a sense of patriotism and love for the country. “” We can – and so help us God we’re going to – make America great again. ”The candidate they supported was a twice-married former Hollywood actor who signed a liberal abortion law as California governor. “There were big reservations about Ronald Reagan.” “God sent us here for some reason.” “The turning point was a meeting of a group called the Religious Roundtable.” “I’m sick of hearing about all the radicals and perverts and liberals and leftists and communists who come out of the closet. It’s time for God’s people, out of the closet, out of the churches, and change America. ”“ And Reagan stood up and said famously, ‘I know this group can’t support me – ”“ But I just mentioned that because I want you to know that I support you and what you are doing. ”“ That spread to churches and religious institutions across the country. It was like coming out of the catacombs, you know. You don’t have to be silent anymore. ”“ As in no other election past, the evangelical right is in force and coming into force this year. ” “175,000 believers sang, prayed and marched through the Capitol Mall. They said their goal is to call the national leadership back to God. ”“ We have a threefold primary responsibility. Number one: save people. Number two: get them baptized. Number three: Register them to vote. ”“ They had not participated in the political life of the country for a long time. And Jerry gave them permission to do that again. ”Reagan and the Republicans pledged to appoint pro-life judges and support prayer in public schools. “For the really first time evangelicalism is interlocking with the Republican Party in any significant way.” “When I look at the democratic platform and the things Jimmy Carter supports, I’m not sure that Jesus Christ, well, I know that Christ would not support this platform. ” But in the end, Reagan failed to pursue many of the issues evangelicals were interested in. Cal Thomas, who left Moral Majority after a few years, felt that the organization was too anxious to get access and that political influence was not the best way to change the country. “Evangelicals liked George Bush. They liked Ronald Reagan. They’ve liked other Republicans in the past, but they never seem to be able to close the deal on the issues that evangelicals care about. In the long run, things haven’t really changed that fundamentally. They think they have gotten worse. We have moved from same-sex marriage to transgenderism – 60 million abortions. “” Our Christian heritage is valued and protected – “” And then comes Donald Trump, the opposite of everything evangelicals stand for – multiple issues, crude language, whatever . And a lot of them got a bargain that didn’t matter. “” Dad stated that when he walked into the voting booth he wasn’t voting for a Sunday School teacher or pastor. ” “It was just as difficult for evangelicals to get them to vote for someone like Ronald Reagan, who was married twice, as it was for me to get people to vote and support Trump. It was the same dynamic. It was like history repeated itself. ”Today, Jerry Falwell Jr. heads the university his father founded and has become a prominent evangelical voice in support of President Trump. “I think Jesus made it clear that you are using your common sense and God-given brain to decide who is the best political leader. I am not looking at the teachings of Jesus what my political beliefs should be. I don’t think that’s what he wanted from us. We need someone who is tough, we need someone who is in the right position on the issues. “” He promised to put strong conservatives in federal courts at all levels, and President Trump got his way. ” “Not only did he do everything he announced, but he did more.” “The president is preparing to announce his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.” “The announcement fulfills a campaign promise for President Trump and is popular with evangelical Christians -” “I think he will be our greatest president since George Washington.” While Trump still has the support of more than 70 percent of white evangelicals, some fear that what began as a religious movement is now seen as just another political constituency. “Evangelicals are missing an important point: if not careful, political activism will overwhelm the primary message, which is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the only thing that can really change a life, and therefore a nation. And no politician can fill this role. “

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