The Evangelical Right’s Roots

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

religious rightThe Evangelical Right arose from the moral outrage triggered by the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. That compelling portrait of their origins glosses over the movement’s less-than-heroic inception. While Roman Catholics condemned the ruling, W. Barry Garrett of Baptist Press wrote, “Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision.” Wayne Dehoney, Southern Baptist Convention president in the 1960’s, noted, in 1976, the difference between Protestant and Catholic theology when he said: “Protestant theology generally takes Genesis 2:7 as a statement that the soul is formed at breath, not conception.”

The Evangelical Right did not come together in response to the Roe v. Wade decision but in response to the attempt by the IRS to rescind the tax-exempt status of private schools because of the school’s racially discriminatory policies.

In Green v. Connally (1972), the United States District Court, District of Columbia, enjoined the IRS from approving any application for tax exempt status for any private school in the State of Mississippi unless that school has “has publicized the fact that it has a racially nondiscriminatory policy as to students.”

In 1975, the IRS sought to revoke the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University because the school’s regulations prohibited inter-racial dating. It wasn’t until 1971 that African-Americans were admitted and then only if they were married. In Bob Jones University v. United States (1983), the Supreme Court, in an 8-1 decision, found that:

The Government’s fundamental, overriding interest in eradicating racial discrimination in education substantially outweighs whatever burden denial of tax benefits places on petitioners’ exercise of their religious beliefs.

Paul M. Weyrich, a longtime conservative activist, and one of the architects of the Religious Right in the late 1970s, insisted that the political movement got its start when the IRS tried to rescind the tax-exempt status of schools that practiced racial discrimination. Weyrich tried for years to energize evangelical voters over issues such as school prayer, abortion, and the proposed equal rights amendment. Weyrich added: “What changed their mind was Jimmy Carter’s intervention against the Christian schools, trying to deny them tax-exempt status on the basis of so-called de facto segregation.” The 1972 Green decision and the 1975 IRS action against Bob Jones University actually predate Jimmy Carter’s presidency (1977-1981).

journey of manDiscrimination based on race makes absolutely no sense based on genetics alone. Dr. Spencer Wells has traced The Journey of Man through evidence uncovered in the Y-chromosome. This evidence shows that evangelicals, and everyone else, are descended from Africans. Oh the irony! White evangelicals can trace their ancestry back to black Africans. Maybe that’s the real reason they deny evolution.

H/T: Randall Balmer, Jonathan DudleyBob Allen, Ed Kilgore.

51 thoughts on “The Evangelical Right’s Roots”

  1. Nal,

    If, as Mike has indicated, that I crossed the line into personal insult, I apologize. Also, I find it to your credit that two other very good guest bloggers come to your defense. I am surprised, and I am still unclear for their reasoning to hold your posts in such high regard, but I accept the fact that I don’t know everything, I will check myself in re-evaluating the benefit of your blogs upon their de facto recommendation.

    “A common tactic against criticism of Christians is the accusation of “ill will” or “hatred” or “bigotry.” It is an example of the Ad Hominem logical fallacy. This fallacy relieves the accuser of the burden of addressing the criticism.”

    In fact, I made my case of your ill will by citing the number of posts that you have submitted in the past that relate to this theme, such that this theme and your take on it is tiresome. No new information, no new perspective. It appears to me that your desire is to take a chunk out of organized religion when possible. Another piece of evidence I provided was that your thesis itself was illegitimate. You have no research authority to make the claim that Evangelical Christians organized themselves into a social/ political block because of Roe v. Wade. So, there was not deflecting on my part through an Ad Hominem logical fallacy, I clearly supported the point I was making.

    “All my blog posts reflect my personal beliefs. . . As with the other GBs, I post on topics that interest me (and ones that JT has not posted on), and church/state separation is one such topic.”

    One of the primary advantages of blogs is to express ourselves freely in a forum format rather than pass through the rigors of relevance and accuracy necessary for published articles. JT has the right to let anyone GB on his site that he wants. I have the right to express that your personal beliefs and some topics of interest are overdone, and blown out of proportion. You did not advance the topic of separation of Church and State in this blog post. Not at all. You can’t shroud a pig in a purple cloak and call it a prince. I am now going to bring my responses to an end because I feel that my writing is getting repetitive and tiresome which is against my own quality control.

    “Whether a belief is “commonly held” is irrelevant to its reasonableness.” Hmmmmmm, for a legal blog that supports the jury system of justice with all of its messy faults, this seems an odd statement.

    In closing, once again I apologize if I crossed the personal line in my earlier post. I, in fact, wish you well. Your successful posting of quality information as a GB in this blog will benefit us all.

    Peace, Joseph

  2. Mike,

    “Don’t you think that is important in bolstering David’s thesis that the anti-abortion movement is really a cover for protecting church assets? I do.”

    This conversation is definitely getting more interesting than I had anticipated. As you know, I enjoy reading your articles (that is completely honest). If you have evidence to support the above statement, I am very interested in you making your case. It would be a fascinating read.

    “Joseph this is a totally unfair assumption on your part with no evidence to support it except for your characterizations of David’s guest blogs and a little “pop” psychology thrown in . . . As I stated above though, your implications about David’s background “scarring” are unfair. You could have made your case without injecting assumptions about his personality.”

    You are right to call me on any personal remarks to Nal or anyone else. This should be a safe place to post, without fear of personal attack. I also think that it should be a safe place to read, without having to wonder if someone is going to carryout a vendetta toward a particular topic. Being a Sicilian, I am clear that vendetta’s are personal and reflect something of our own background and prejudice. Nal is a regular poster of the faults of organized religion. I have made comment before about the fact that these rants are repetitive by him. I was hoping for a little bit of his own reflection on the reasons for the repetition prior to his posts. There are forums for that. This is not that forum.

    “I completely disagree and believe that David has been a bulwark of this blog. Beyond that though this particular guest blog is quite relevant for the range of issues we discuss here, although you may not like it.”

    I don’t know the length of time that Nal has been posting to this blog, but length of existence to me does not equate to ‘bulwark.’ Advancing personal reflection, challenging common held assumptions, auditing our role in promoting or diminishing personal liberties are cornerstones of this blog. Telling us over and over again the reason that religious people are phonies does not of that.

    “David is writing about a very vocal and pernicious minority that has cowed many Christians into embarrassed silence.”

    This is simply not as true as it would seem. These are active people, but most of these active, conservative Christians don’t abide by such things as racial discrimination. I have lived within their ranks. I know this to be true.I think it is also noteworthy here that the Republicans lost the Catholic voting block decades ago, and Italian Catholics were never a reliable voting block for the Republicans. There may be conservative Christians in southern states that are Christian in name only, and their prejudice practices may be shocking and contradictory. However, continue to focus on those fractional and marginalized groups does not advance our conversation here. When news breaks related to them, then expose them. But let it be new news.

    Peace, Joseph

  3. If we want to go way back, the roots of political/evangelical/religious right-wing is the defense of slavery in pre-Civil War times. The most religious parts of the nation then, as now, was the American South. They utilized the bible to defend slavery, well, because the bible defends slavery.

    It clearly is pro-slavery and lays out rules on slavery. It tells slaves to return to their masters. Of course those who wanted to defend slavery would utilize verses that supported their position. Later the bible was used to oppose the right of women to vote because the bible is anti-women. It was used to support segreation. The bible has been used to defend every injustice in the history of our nation, just as it is now being used to defend homophobia. Of course, in 50 years, it will be denied that the bible was ever used to defend these things.

  4. Nal,
    Good diary and good response just above. There is at least one person like that in every crowd.

  5. As a true believer in the holy scripture, I take offense at those who think that those who thump the Bible are either right or wrong. Or left or right. A true believer believes in what is in the Gospel and that is then advanced as Gospel Truth. We do not have to engage in debate about what constitutes true electricity or predict if the trains will run on time. If we thump a Bible it is to emphasize a Gospel Truth. One does not have to be in a certain Sect of a religion. Me I am a Baptist. You can be a creature of God and be a believer, cat or dog for sure. You can thump. But dont hump. That goes out to you HumpinDog. You’d hump a rock.

  6. When someone tells me that they are Evangelical, I inquire: 1. if they get their Bible at Sears Roebuck. 2. if they can thump it and make music.

  7. Joseph Piazza:

    My unofficial count of your blog posts demonstrates that you have some obsessive ill will towards organized religions, and conventional Christianity in the United States.

    A common tactic against criticism of Christians is the accusation of “ill will” or “hatred” or “bigotry.” It is an example of the Ad Hominem logical fallacy. This fallacy relieves the accuser of the burden of addressing the criticism.

    It seems to be a blind obsession because the premise that you use often times reflects your personal belief, not necessarily common held beliefs.

    All my blog posts reflect my personal beliefs. Whether a belief is “commonly held” is irrelevant to its reasonableness.

    As with the other GBs, I post on topics that interest me (and ones that JT has not posted on), and church/state separation is one such topic.

    Mike S. & Raff,

    I appreciate your kinds words and support.

  8. What Mike S. said to Joseph. Having a different view or a view against a Catholic or Protestant or Jewish or any major religion does not equate to “hating” that particular religion’s teachings or beliefs.

  9. Nal,

    My unofficial count of your blog posts demonstrates that you have some obsessive ill will towards organized religions, and conventional Christianity in the United States. It seems to be a blind obsession because the premise that you use often times reflects your personal belief, not necessarily common held beliefs. As an example, you could have just as easily blamed the organization of “The Evangelical Right” on the rise of rock and roll. Certainly, churches all over the United States formed alliances twenty years before your assertion that these alliances formed to eliminate rock and roll from public broadcast.

    Whatever has scarred you in that past that gives you such hate to repeatedly post the same hateful rhetoric is real to you. But it is not necessary for, or to the benefit of, the rest of us. I am asking that you please post something of relevance. Say something that matters. You are not enlightening us, or furthering our analysis of any current events. The other Guest Submissions, by and large, do this very thing. They certainly have passion about their topics, but they don’t seem so hateful and logically blind.

    I am not presently a practicing member of a Christian church. However, I can guarantee the readers that the majority of Christians in the United States consider racial segregation and inequality abhorrent. You finding exceptions to this does not mean you have ‘uncovered’ something worth talking about. The same goes for the allusion of Evangelical Christians organizing around Roe v. Wade. Just because you say that people who are for the life of an unborn child are therefore anti-woman does not make it so. Just because you can find examples of Christians that support abortion, does not make their beliefs or your posting of them in any way authoritative on the matter.

    Please say something that matters, or learn to enjoy the silence.

    Peace, Joseph

    1. “It seems to be a blind obsession because the premise that you use often times reflects your personal belief, not necessarily common held beliefs”

      Joseph,

      As someone who believes in a creator of some sort I must defend David and this particular guest blog. Did you miss this part of David’s piece:

      “While Roman Catholics condemned the ruling, W. Barry Garrett of Baptist Press wrote, “Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision.” Wayne Dehoney, Southern Baptist Convention president in the 1960′s, noted, in 1976, the difference between Protestant and Catholic theology when he said: “Protestant theology generally takes Genesis 2:7 as a statement that the soul is formed at breath, not conception.” ”

      You don’t see that today’s anti-abortion movement, at least as far as on-Catholics go, is not even a reflection of mainstream protestant teaching? Don’t you think that is important in bolstering David’s thesis that the anti-abortion movement is really a cover for protecting church assets? I do.

      “Whatever has scarred you in that past that gives you such hate to repeatedly post the same hateful rhetoric is real to you. But it is not necessary for, or to the benefit of, the rest of us.”

      Joseph this is a totally unfair assumption on your part with no evidence to support it except for your characterizations of David’s guest blogs and a little “pop” psychology thrown in.

      “I am asking that you please post something of relevance. Say something that matters. You are not enlightening us, or furthering our analysis of any current events.”

      I completely disagree and believe that David has been a bulwark of this blog.
      Beyond that though this particular guest blog is quite relevant for the range of issues we discuss here, although you may not like it.

      “I can guarantee the readers that the majority of Christians in the United States consider racial segregation and inequality abhorrent. You finding exceptions to this does not mean you have ‘uncovered’ something worth talking about.”

      While I think that your statement about the majority of Christians is true, David is writing about a very vocal and pernicious minority that has cowed many Christians into embarrassed silence. As a Jew I can say that this phenomenon also exist in the Jewish community, where the Ultra-Orthodox Fundamentalists have power far beyond their number of adherents.

      “Just because you say that people who are for the life of an unborn child are therefore anti-woman does not make it so.”

      Joseph, being against abortion in an ethical or moral sense is not anti-woman per se. Abortion is a choice that many would not make because of their own religious or moral beliefs. However, being for the State regulating any woman’s choice when it comes to pregnancy is anti-woman in my opinion. Individuals have the right to make their own moral choices. They should not have the right to impose their religious and moral beliefs on others. Those that feel they have that right are anti-woman in my belief.

      Please don’t bother to give me analogies between abortion and murder because as this article shows in the quote above, that belief is not one that has always been written in stone. You will notice Joseph, that just as you did in your comment I’ve replied to you respectfully and without rancor. As I stated above though, your implications about David’s background “scarring” are unfair. You could have made your case without injecting assumptions about his personality.

  10. Mike Spindell 1, February 17, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Dredd,

    Is correct in that the “Eugenics Movement” in the 19th Century U.S. did resonate with NAZIism. It also had popularity with the Progressive Movement at the time with people like Teddy Roosevelt. The “movement” conceived the “Anglo Saxon People” as the “highest” example of human evolution.
    ==================================
    Indeed Mike.

    I must admit that I was surprised by the book reviews I read.

    I just finished another one from Epoché: The University of California Journal for the Study of Religion, which begins:

    In her book Preaching Eugenics, Christine Rosen
    provides an insightful look at the leaders of America’s eugenics
    movement as well as the mercurial relationship that existed
    between religion and science during the late nineteenth and early
    twentieth centuries. Rosen focuses on spokesmen for liberal
    Protestantism, Judaism, and Catholicism in order to elucidate the
    zeal with which many liberal-minded religious leaders embraced
    eugenic science.

    (Review by Reanna Glynn Mason). I am pleased to note that posters and commentators of the JT blog generally do not get swept away with the torque or momentum of the groups we identify with.

    Thus we will criticize any bad idea, no matter if it is from groups that claim to be progressive, libertarian, conservative, liberal, democratic, republican, religious or scientific.

    That is healthy IMO, and an antidote to something like eugenics run amok, because bad ideas can’t be made good by numbers in a group.

    1. Dredd,

      For even some Jewish leaders to have supported Eugenics is further proof that we Jews aren’t as smart as people think we are. The prime movers in eugenics thought of Jews as a degenerate people.

  11. Dredd,

    Is correct in that the “Eugenics Movement” in the 19th Century U.S. did resonate with NAZIism. It also had popularity with the Progressive Movement at the time with people like Teddy Roosevelt. The “movement” conceived the “Anglo Saxon People” as the “highest” example of human evolution.

  12. Nal,

    It is rare when The Evangelical Right, Progressives, and Evolutionary Science climb into the same bed as a threesome.

    You know something is out of kilter when the monster offspring of that un-holy alliance begin to run around the joint.

    Let’s take a grown-up’s gander at it then:

    It’s unlikely that many Americans are aware of how active Christian and even a few Jewish leaders were in promoting eugenics in America. … This is what makes Christine Rosen’s Preaching Eugenics: Religious Leaders and the American Eugenics Movement such an important book. Everyone has heard of eugenics and most may have a vague idea of what it means, but few realize what was done in America in the name of eugenics. Even fewer are aware of the complicity of Christian religious leaders … Rosen’s research into archival material from the American Eugenics Society has brought to light information that has been forgotten or is simply unknown, making her book a unique resource that is indispensable for anyone with an interest in eugenics, the relationship between science and religion, or just the history of American Christianity. It’s easy for smug defenders of religion to dismiss eugenics as an ideology accepted by little more than “semi-literate people” and based on atheism, but American promoters of eugenics were well-read, well-educated, and very interested in the improvement of society … When pundits worry about how Muslims or Hispanics have larger families than white, European Christians and that the latter need to start having more kids in order to not lose the breeding race, that’s one face of the less benign side of eugenics.

    (Preaching Eugenics, book Review). Another review of the book elaborates a bit more on the Darwinian Evolutionary aspects of it I commented on up-thread:

    The [eugenics] movement got its start from the English statistician Francis Galton in the second half of the 19th century. Galton, a cousin of Charles Darwin, became convinced the human race was degrading because the birthrate among “unfit” people was high.

    To remedy this crisis, Galton, inspired by Darwin’s theories and Gregor Mendel’s work in genetics, proposed that society take control of human evolution and save the race through a “positive eugenics” in which eugenically superior people would be encouraged to mate and procreate bountifully.

    (Preaching Eugenics, another book review). It is quite clear that the racial dynamics of eugenics in the nation have been fostered by science and religion at times, and it was strong enough to inspire Nazi’s in Germany to “go massive.”

  13. BTW, Mike, I would like to confer with you on some research matters involving aspects of Joseph Brown’s writings — you recommended some of his books to me,

    I’ve set up a temporary email account for this sole purpose:

    Oroleetemp@gmail.com

    The account will be canceled after an exchange of contact information

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