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The Christian right, also known as the Religious Right and the Evangelical Bloc, is a term used predominantly in the United States of Americamarker to describe a spectrum of right-wing Christian political and social movements and organizations characterized by their strong support of conservative social and political values. The politically active social movement of the Christian right includes individuals from a wide variety of conservative theological beliefs, ranging from traditional movements within Pentecostalism, fundamentalist Christianity and Mormonism to the adherents of Lutheranism and Catholicism that are theologically conservative.

The Christian right is contrasted with the Christian left, a spectrum of left-wing Christian political and social movements which largely embrace policies of social justice.


The terms Christian right and Religious right are often used interchangeably, although the terms are not synonymous. Religious right can refer to any religiously motivated conservative movement, whether specific to one religion or shared across religious lines. For example, conservative Christians, Muslim social conservatives, and Orthodox Jews cooperate in national and international projects through the World Congress of Families and United Nations NGO gatherings. Christian right on the other hand refers to only the Christian segment of the Religious right and includes leaders who are outspoken critics of radical Islam and other faiths, regardless of their political leanings.

The term Christian right is used by people from a wide range of conservative political and religious viewpoints, for self identification and outside commentary. Some 15% of the electorate in the United States tell pollsters they align themselves with the Christian right, which serves as an important voting bloc within the U.S. Republican Party. In recent years, Christian right groups have appeared in other countries than the United States such as Canadamarker and the Philippinesmarker. However, the Christian right remains a idiosyncratic phenomenon most commonly associated with the United States.

John C. Green of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life states that Jerry Falwell used the label 'Religious Right' to describe himself, until it developed negative connotations, such as of hard-edged politics and intolerance, which resulted in very few people to whom the term would apply using it to describe themselves any more. Gary Schneeberger, vice president of media and public relations for Focus on the Familymarker, states that "[t]erms like 'Religious Right' have been traditionally used in a pejorative way to suggest extremism. The phrase 'socially conservative evangelicals' is not very exciting, but that's certainly the way to do it."

Evangelical leaders like Tony Perkins of Family Research Council have called attention to the special problem of equating the terms with evangelical. Although evangelicals constitute the core constituency of the Christian right, not all evangelicals fit the description. The problem of description is further complicated by the fact that "religious conservative" may refer to groups like Mennonites and Amish, who are theologically conservative, but are not involved politically.


Origins of the Christian right in the United States

"Shift in gravity" to the South and West

The Christian right became prominent due to a variety of developments, including the "shift in gravity" (the movement of the Christian population) to the South and West, both in regards to population movements and to rising leaders in the "anti-establishment" of the West, which consequently led to more power in electoral votes.

Church as community

An important factor that led to the concentration of the Christian Right's popularity was creating a climate where churches would be central in the absence of community. It was the physical design of neighborhoods, particularly in developing areas like Southern California that were unique to the movement. The "planned sprawl" model of development fostered an environment of private growth, often spread out, an absence of public space and weakening the community bonds of the area. The church thus became an alternative means for establishing a sense of togetherness, and a place for social activity. The church acted as the new center for the community, bringing people together for socialization and the exchange of ideas. The growth of the church community was integral in the subsequent mobilization of conservative activists, particularly in suburban areas.

The Alienation of Southern Democrats

The alienation of Southern Democrats also contributed to the rise of the Right as a result of the dissolution over race, particularly after desegregation efforts following the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the Barry Goldwater campaign attracted members of the Southern elite into the Republican Party. The Right also grew as a reaction of the progressive culture of the 1960s and a fear of social disintegration.

Ability to organize

The contemporary Christian right became increasingly vocal and organized in reaction to a series of United States Supreme Courtmarker decisions (notably Bob Jones University v. Simon and Bob Jones University v. United States) and also engaged in battles over pornography, obscenity, abortion, state sanctioned prayer in public schools, textbook contents (concerning evolution vs. intelligent design), homosexuality, and sexual education. The movement strengthened its influence through grassroots activists, intellectual think tanks (such as American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, Hoover Foundation, etc), and a wide range of media institutions and key media figures (i.e. National Review, Rupert Murdoch, and Rush Limbaugh).

Grassroots activism
Much of the Christian right's power within the American political system is attributed to their extraordinary turnout rate at the polls. The voters that coexist in the Christian Right are also highly motivated and driven to get out a viewpoint on issues they care about. As well as high voter turnout, they can be counted on to attend political events, knock on doors and distribute literature. Members of the Christian Right are willing to do the electoral work needed to see their candidate elected. Because of their high level of devotion, the Christian right does not need to monetarily compensate these people for their work, thus making them a valuable resource for the Christian right.

Political leaders and institutions
Led by Robert Grant's Christian Voice, Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority, Ed McAteer's Religious Roundtable Council, James Dobson's Focus on the Familymarker, and Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, the new Religious Right combined conservative politics with evangelical and fundamentalist teachings. The birth of the New Christian right, however, is usually traced to a 1979 meeting where televangelist Jerry Falwell was urged to create a "Moral Majority" organization.


  • July 2, 1964 — The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prompts the defection of some Southern Democrats from the Democratic Party.

  • 1972 — The 'Southern strategy' of Richard Nixon's presidential campaign, of exploiting racial anxiety among white voters in the South, eventually leading to a realignment of the South with the Republican Party.

  • 1974Robert Grant founds the American Christian Cause as an effort to institutionalize the Christian Right as a politically active social movement.

  • Late 1970s — The New Religious Right becomes much more involved in politics and media.

  • April 29, 1980Washington for Jesus founded by John Giminez, the pastor of Rock Church in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Dr. William Bright, Benson Idahosa from Africa, and many other high-profile Christians marched on Washington DC, in an effort to support Ronald Reagan's presidential run. This event provides a place for the Christian Right to outline many of their beliefs in speeches and statements.

  • 1981Ronald Reagan becomes president, serving two presidential terms (1981–1989). Republicans capture the Senate for the first time since 1952.

  • 1992 — The Christian Coalition produces voter guides and distributes them to conservative Christian churches.

  • January 20, 2001George W. Bush becomes president as a result, in part, from overwhelming support from white conservative evangelical voters.

Christian right institutions in the United States


National organizations

One early effort to institutionalize the Christian right as a politically-active social movement began in 1974 when Dr. Robert Grant, an early movement leader, founded American Christian Cause to advocate Christian moral teachings in Southern California. Concerned that Christians overwhelmingly voted in favor of President Jimmy Carter in 1976, Grant expanded his movement and founded Christian Voice to mobilize Christian voters in favor of candidates who share their socially conservative values.

In the late 1980s Pat Robertson founded the Christian Coalition, building from his 1988 presidential run, with Republican activist Ralph Reed, who became the spokesman for the Coalition. In 1992, the national Christian Coalition, Inc., headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia, began producing voter guides, which it distributed to conservative Christian churches. Under the leadership of Reed and Robertson, the Coalition quickly became the most prominent voice in the conservative Christian movement, its influence culminating with an effort to support the election of a conservative Christian to the presidency in 1996. In addition, they have talked about attempting to intersperse the traditional moral issues associated with the Christian Right into a broader message that emphasizes other political issues, such as healthcare, the economy, education and crime.

Political activists worked within the Republican party locally and nationally to influence party platforms and nominations. More recently Dr. James Dobson's group Focus on the Familymarker, based in Colorado Springs and its lobbying arm the Family Research Council in Washington D.C have gained enormous clout among Republican lawmakers. While strongly advocating for these "moral issues", Dobson himself is more wary of the political spectrum and much of the resources of his group are devoted to other aims such as media. However, as a private citizen, Dobson has stated his opinion on presidential elections; on February 5, 2008, Dobson issued a statement regarding the 2008 presidential election and his strong disappointment with the Republican party's candidates.

In an essay written in 1996, Ralph Reed argued against the moral absolutist tone of Christian Right leaders, arguing for the Republican Party Platform to stress the moral dimension of abortion rather than placing emphasis on repealing Roe v. Wade. Reed believes that pragmatism is the best way to advocate for the Christian Right.

Partisan activity of churches

Small churches self-identified as within the Christian right have taken overtly partisan actions, which are generally considered inappropriate in most conservative Protestant churches, and which could threaten these organizations' tax-exempt status. In one notable example, the former pastor of the East Waynesville Baptist Church in Waynesville, North Carolinamarker "told the congregation that anyone who planned to vote for Democratic Sen. John Kerry (the Democratic presidential candidate in 2004) should either leave the church or repent". The church later expelled nine members who had voted for Kerry and refused to repent, which led to criticism on the national level. The pastor resigned and the ousted church members were allowed to return.

Electoral activity

Christian Right organizations conduct polls to determine which candidate will be supported and ultimately, represent, the Christian Right in the public sphere. For example, from October 19 to October 21, 2007 the Family Research Council convened a summit of several hundred conservative Christian activists in Washington, DC called the Values Voters Summit. The mission of the meeting was to conduct a straw poll on who is the best choice for religious conservatives. George W. Bush's electoral success owed much to his overwhelming support from white evangelical voters, who comprise 23% of the vote. In 2000 he received 68% of the white evangelical vote; in 2004 that percentage rose to 78%.


The Home School Legal Defense Association was cofounded in 1983 by Michael Farris, who would later establish Patrick Henry Collegemarker, and Michael Smith. This organization attempts to challenge laws that serve as obstacles to allowing parents to homeschool their children and to organize the disparate group of homeschooling families into a cohesive bloc. The number of homeschooling families has increased in the last twenty years, and around 80 percent of these families identify themselves as evangelicals.

A number of universities and colleges have been founded due to the growing popularity of the Christian right.The main universities associated with the Christian Right are:

  • Bob Jones Universitymarker — Protestant Fundamentalist university, founded in 1927. George W. Bush spoke at the school's chapel hour on February 2, 2000 as presidential candidate.
  • Liberty Universitymarker — founded by Jerry Falwell as Lynchburg Baptist College in 1971. Accredited in 1980; law school was accredited in 2006.
  • Regent Universitymarker — founded in 1978 by Pat Robertson, (originally CBN University). Accredited in 1984, renamed Regent University in 1990. Regent Law School was fully accredited in 1996. The two universities and their law schools have numerous conservative activists and politicians as alumni, and have hosted important speeches by conservative national politicians since Ronald Reagan.
  • Patrick Henry Collegemarker — Protestant college, incorporated in 1998 and officially opened in 2000. Granted full accreditation in 2007.


The media has played a major role in the rise of the Christian Right since the 1920s and has continued to be a powerful force for the movement today. The role of the media for the Religious Right has been influential in its ability to connect Christian audiences to the larger American culture while at the same time bringing together religion, politics, and culture that was personal and practical. The political agenda of the Christian Right has been disseminated to the public through a variety of media outlets including radio broadcasting, television, and books. Religious broadcasting began in the 1920s through the radio. Between the 1950s and 1980s, TV became a powerful way for the Christian Right to influence the public through shows such as Pat Robertson's 700 Club and The Family Channel. The use of the Internet has also helped the Christian Right reach a much larger audience. Organizations websites contain easily accessible and detailed information on the issues the organizations are involved in and the positions they take, along with ways the site viewer can get involved. The Christian Coalition, for example, has used the Internet to inform the public, as well as sell merchandise and gather members."The Christian Coalition of America: America's Leading Grassroots Organization Defending Our Godly Heritage." The Christian Coalition of America. 2006. />.

Moral issues and general beliefs

The Christian Right is a movement that has been difficult to define due to the heterogeneity of the movement. Although they are virtually unanimous on certain issues such as abortion, some contrasting viewpoints can be found among people who identify themselves as members of the Christian Right. For example, there is dissent regarding issues such as capital punishment and global warming.


As a right-wing political movement, the Christian right is strongly opposed to left-wing ideologies such as socialism and the welfare state. To some, communism is seen as a threat to the Western Judeo-Christian tradition.

It also supports economic conservative policies such as tax cuts and social conservative policies such as child tax credits.

It supports the idea that the government should not interfere with the natural operations of the marketplace or the workplace too much.


  • Support for homeschooling, and private schooling, generally as an alternative to secular education. In recent years the percentage of children being home schooled has risen from 1.7% of the student population in 1999 to 2.2% in 2003. Much of this increase has been attributed to the desire to incorporate Christian teachings into the curriculum. In 2003 72% of parents who home school their children cited the ability to provide religious or moral instruction as the reason for homeschooling their children.

  • The Christian Right strongly advocates for a system of educational choice mainly through the support of school vouchers.
    • Vouchers would be government funded and could be redeemed for "a specified maximum sum per child per years if spent on approved educational services". This method would allow parents to determine which school their child attends while relieving the economic burden associated with private schools. The concept is popular among constituents of church-related schools, including those affiliated with Roman Catholicism.

  • Modification of public school curriculum, including the following (in many cases, though not universally):

The Christian Right has made inroads on issues of the public school because many of their followers have been able to influence the curriculum of school districts by running for and winning school board elections. Research suggests that these candidates run solely to propagate their religious or moral beliefs as school policy. The smaller the jurisdiction, the greater the tendency for the Christian Right pragmatically to support favorable candidates who can win, regardless of political-party affiliation.

The Middle East

Some groups, such as American Christian Zionists, believe the establishment of the state of Israel was a precursor to the Second Coming of Christ, and that war between the Jews and Arabs was prophesied in the Bible. Ed McAteer, founder of the Moral Majority, said of the current situation in the Middle East: "I believe that we are seeing prophecy unfold so rapidly and dramatically and wonderfully and, without exaggerating, makes me breathless."

Israeli political analyst Yossi Alfer has also criticised this view, saying "It’s not good for the Jews. We have to get God out of this conflict if we’re going to have any chance to survive as a healthy, secure Jewish state."


Role in society

  • Support the idea that government's proper role is to cultivate virtue, not to interfere with the natural operations of the marketplace or the workplace.
  • Opposition to federal funding of science they feel contradicts the Bible, particularly in areas that they feel violate the right to life.
  • Opposition to judicial activism by federal judges, or decisions perceived as liberal in cases important to the Christian Right.
  • Opposition to full civil rights for gay and lesbian Americans

Separation of Church and State

  • The Christian Right believes that separation of church and state is not explicit in the U.S. Constitution, but is a creation of activist judges in the judicial system. Christian Right leaders have argued that while the First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion", it does not prohibit the display of religion in the public sphere such as civil servants displaying the Ten Commandments. This interpretation has been repeatedly rejected by the courts, which have found that such displays violate the Establishment Clause.

  • Support for religious institutions within government
  • Support for the presence of religion in the public sphere and the official activities thereof
    • In the United States, often supported by the claim that the country was "founded by Christians as a Christian Nation"
    • In the UK, some similar policies are followed, based on the view that Britain’s status as a historically Christian nation should be protected and restored, for instance by enforcing the Blasphemy Law, increasing school prayer and regarding those in public life as accountable to God, although the predominant political atmosphere tends towards a recognition that the United Kingdom is a secular state and its government should legislate and behave as such.
  • Promotion of conservative or literal interpretations of the Bible as the basis for moral values, and enforcing such values by legislation.
  • Supports reducing restrictions on government funding for religious charities and schools. However, some politically conservative churches refuse government funding because of their restrictions regarding acceptance of homosexuality and other issues; others endorse President Bush's "faith-based initiatives" and accept funds.
  • Strong support for national leaders and conservative candidates
    • Suggestions that leaders are "chosen by God"
    • Leaders attempting to shape country in Christian ways, including changing the constitution to better reflect 'God's standards'

Human life

  • Stronger regulation or prohibition of abortion, especially third trimester abortions and intact dilation and extraction (which the movement typically describes as "partial birth abortion".) The Christian Right believes life begins at the moment of conception, and therefore abortion is murder. The Christian Right is adamantly Pro Life; this is one of the concepts that unifies the expansive Christian Right.

  • Generally opposed to euthanasia, although many members of the Christian Right draw a distinction between aiding one's death and allowing one to die.

  • Regulation and restriction of certain applications of biotechnology; in particular, both therapeutic and reproductive human cloning and stem cell research that involves the destruction of human embryos. Because the Christian right believes life begins at the moment of conception, the Christian right is opposed to research involving a human embryo. See also: bioethics.

Sexuality and reproduction

The Christian right builds the foundation for its beliefs on sexuality and reproduction around its article of faith: the nuclear family.

Opposition to

Race and diversity

The conclusions of a review of 112 studies on Christian faith and ethnic prejudice were summarised by a later study as being that "white Protestants associated with groups possessing fundamentalist belief systems are generally more prejudiced than members of nonfundamentalist groups, with unchurched whites exhibiting least prejudice." The original review found that its conclusions held "regardless of when the studies were conducted, from whom the data came, the region where the data were collected, or the type of prejudice studied." More recently, at least eight studies have found a positive correlation between fundamentalism and prejudice, using different measures of fundamentalism.

A number of prominent members of the Christian right, including Jerry Falwell and Rousas John Rushdoony, have in the past supported segregation, with Falwell arguing in a 1958 sermon that integration will lead to the destruction of the white race. He later claimed he changed his views.

In Thy Kingdom Come, Randall Balmer recounts comments that Paul M. Weyrich, who he describes as "one of the architects of the Religious Right in the late 1970s", made at a conference, sponsored by a Religious Right organization, that they both attended in Washington in 1990:

Bob Jones Universitymarker had policies that refused black students enrollment until 1971, admitted only married blacks from 1971 to 1975, and prohibited interracial dating and marriage between 1975 and 2000.

In an interview with The Politico, University of Virginiamarker theologian Charles Marsh, author of Wayward Christian Soldiers and the son of a Southern Baptist minister, stated:


Sara Diamond, Frederick Clarkson, and some other critics of the Christian right claim that the Christian right's political agendas are a form of Dominionism influenced by Dominion Theology and Christian Reconstructionism; the latter two are related philosophies that regard the Bible as the only strictly true reference for civics, government, scientific theory or any scholarly pursuit. Many in the Christian right oppose this point of view, and no major Christian right leader has gone on record as advocating Reconstructionism, although some admit being influenced by Reconstructionist philosophical writings.

Dan Olinger, a professor at the Fundamentalist Bob Jones Universitymarker in Greenvillemarker said, “We want to be good citizens and participants, but we’re not really interested in using the iron fist of the law to compel people to everything Christians should do.”

And Bob Marcaurelle, interim pastor at Mountain Springs Baptist Church in Piedmont, said the Middle Ages were proof enough that Christian ruling groups are almost always corrupted by power. “When Christianity becomes the government, the question is whose Christianity?” Marcaurelle asked.

Social scientists have used the word "dominionism" to refer to adherence to Dominion Theology as well as to the influence in the broader Christian Right of ideas inspired by Dominion Theology. Although such influence (particularly of Reconstructionism) has been described by many authors, full adherents to Reconstructionism are few and marginalized among conservative Christians.

In the early 1990s, sociologist Sara Diamond and journalist Frederick Clarkson defined dominionism as a movement that, while including Dominion Theology and Reconstructionism as subsets, is much broader in scope, extending to much of the Christian Right. Other authors who stress the influence of Dominionist ideas on the Christian Right include Michelle Goldberg and Kevin Phillips

Essayist Katherine Yurica began using the term dominionism in her articles in 2004, beginning with "The Despoiling of America". Yurica has been followed in this usage by authors including journalist Chris Hedges, Marion Maddox, James Rudin, Sam Harris, and the group TheocracyWatch. This group of authors has applied the term to a broader spectrum of people than have sociologists such as Diamond.

The terms "dominionist" and "dominionism" are rarely used for self-description, and their usage has been attacked from several quarters. Journalist Anthony Williams charged that its purpose is "to smear the Republican Party as the party of domestic Theocracy, facts be damned." Stanley Kurtz labeled it "conspiratorial nonsense," "political paranoia," and "guilt by association," and decried Hedges' "vague characterizations" that allow him to "paint a highly questionable picture of a virtually faceless and nameless 'Dominionist' Christian mass." Kurtz also complained about a perceived link between average Christian evangelicals and extremism such as Christian Reconstructionism:

The notion that conservative Christians want to reinstitute slavery and rule by genocide is not just crazy, it's downright dangerous.
The most disturbing part of the Harper's cover story (the one by Chris Hedges) was the attempt to link Christian conservatives with Hitler and fascism.
Once we acknowledge the similarity between conservative Christians and fascists, Hedges appears to suggest, we can confront Christian evil by setting aside 'the old polite rules of democracy.'
So wild conspiracy theories and visions of genocide are really excuses for the Left to disregard the rules of democracy and defeat conservative Christians — by any means necessary.

Other criticism has focused on the proper use of the term. Berlet wrote that "some critics of the Christian Right have stretched the term dominionism past its breaking point," and argued that, rather than labeling conservatives as extremists, it would be better to "talk to these people" and "engage them." Sara Diamond wrote that "[l]iberals' writing about the Christian Right's take-over plans has generally taken the form of conspiracy theory," and argued that instead one should "analyze the subtle ways" that ideas like Dominionism "take hold within movements and why."

Movements outside the United States

While the Christian Right is a stronger movement in the United States, other western nations have their own Christian right movements. A brief summary and evaluation of those movements follow.


In Australia, the Christian right has had mixed fortunes. In the case of the anti-abortion movement, there has been considerable fragmentation between the Federation of Right to Life Associations and Right to Life Australia. The latter favours direct action tactics, and has tended to alienate public opinion. Two other organisations that both began in 1995 with a Christian right focus and agenda were the Australian Christian Coalition, now known as the Australian Christian Lobby, and Salt Shakers. The Australian Christian Lobby has its headquarters in Canberra with State Offices, whilst Salt Shakers has a single office in Melbourne. Over time the Australian Christian Lobby has moved from the political right to a centre right position whilst Salt Shakers has not. Both have had their wins and losses over the 11 years that they have been operating. Both organisations form loose coalitions with other like minded organizations. These coalitions are issue focused and come and go as issues come and go.

In New South Wales, Reverend Fred Nile and his Christian Democratic Party have occupied two to three Legislative Council seats since the 1980s. Nile has been conspicuously unsuccessful in his efforts against the popular Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, and lesbian/gay rights legislation in general, as well as abortion.

Similarly, his former vehicle, the South Australiamarker-based Festival of Light has been ebbing in recent years. In that state, the Family First political party has been elected at the state and federal upper house levels. Victoria used to be the headquarters of the National Civic Council, a conservative Catholic organisation that still produces News Weekly, a conservative Catholic news publication that opposes free market capitalism as well as abortion, voluntary euthanasia and lesbian/gay rights.

For a decade, this movement delayed the introduction of medical abortion in Australia (1996–2005). As time went on, all Australian states and territories either partially or fully decriminalised abortion access, although keeping abortion-on-demand illegal. Eventually, a unified multipartisan pro-choice movement insured passage of legislation that repealed obstacles within the federal Therapeutic Goods Act.

In Australia, Protestant fundamentalist movements have supported conservative state, territory or national governments. Fred Nile has supported former federal Prime Minister John Howard and his (Liberal Party of Australia/National Party of Australia) Coalition federal government, as has South Australia's Family First party, represented at the state and federal levels.


Canada has had a Charter of Rights and Freedoms since the Canadian Constitution was patriated in 1982. As a result, there have been major changes in the law's application to issues that bear on individual and minority group rights. Abortion rights were completely decriminalized after two R. v. Morgentaler cases (in 1988 and in 1993). A series of provincial superior court decisions allowing same-sex marriage, led the federal government to introduce legislation that introduced same sex marriage in all of Canada. The current prime minister, Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party of Canada, stated before taking office that he would hold a free vote on the issue, but declared the issue closed after a vote in the Canadian House of Commons in 2006.

A number of groups can be characterized as religiously motivated and right of centre. Groups that support traditional definitions of the family such as REAL Women of Canada, and pro-life supporters within Campaign Life Coalition, and political parties like the Christian Heritage Party of Canada and Family Coalition Party of Ontario, as well as Focus on the Family Canada, a satellite of the U.S.-based multinational Focus on the Familymarker, based in Colorado Springs, might all be included. These groups have limited influence and the political parties among them have never been elected to office.

These groups have had little success in advancing their agenda when faced with Charter challenges on the grounds of gender equality or protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation; the trend has been toward increased liberalization in these areas.

Similarly, in Canada, REAL Women of Canada and Campaign Life Coalition vociferously supported Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party of Canada in the Canadian general election held in late 2005. Thirteen federal Conservative MPs voted against a 2006 federal bill that would have repealed legislation that introduced same-sex marriage in Canada. In the 2006 federal election for a variety of reasons, Harper and the Canadian Tories only succeeded in achieving a minority government, and seem to have backed away from divisive tactics like repeal of federal same-sex marriage legislation.

During their first term of office, the Conservative Party of Canada did try to introduce measures that would have removed federal tax credit funding to independent Canadianmarker film and television productions, only to withdraw the measure during the Canadian federal election, 2008. Stephen Harper has stated that there will be no further anti-abortion private members' bills from his party, although the federal Tories remain strongly opposed to Insitemarker, British Columbiamarker's safe supervised injecting room facility for intravenous drug users.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, a unitary state, with a single parliamentary chamber, there was little opportunity for social conservative niche parties to influence politics until the electorate voted for a Mixed Member Proportional electoral system in a referendum held in 1993.

United Future New Zealand had been the only socially conservative party able to take advantage of this, but had not conspicuously succeeded in preventing sex work decriminalisation or civil union laws, and won reduced support at the New Zealand general election 2005. At that election, the Exclusive Brethren may have alienated urban voters from Don Brash and his National Party. In 2007 United Future lost its conservative Christian faction, and the party has rebranded itself as a moderate centre party.

During the New Zealand general election 2008, Family First New Zealand and The Kiwi Party campaigned against New Zealand's prohibition of parental corporal punishment of children within Green Party of New Zealand MP Sue Bradford's Child Discipline Bill. Right to Life New Zealand and Family First publicised cross-party voting records on abortion in New Zealand, prostitution in New Zealand, civil unions in New Zealand and same-sex marriage in New Zealand as well as availability of alcohol to teenagers.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has also had an active Christian right movement, whose fortunes peaked during the 1980s, under the Conservative Party administration of Margaret Thatcher, a social conservative. However, Mary Whitehouse and her National Viewers and Listeners Association (now Mediawatch-uk) were the only political beneficiaries of tighter censorship legislation and policy during the eighties. Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, the effect of which was disputed but which aimed to reduce the wrongly-labelled "promotion" of homosexuality by local authorities.

During the 1990s, John Major pursued a softer stance, and Edwina Currie, a libertarian Conservative MP, produced a private members' bill to reduce the gay male age of consent from twenty-one to sixteen. However, the British Parliament accepted eighteen as a compromise age of consent. In 2001, full age of consent equality prevailed. From 1997 to 2007, Tony Blair was Prime Minister, and fully supportive of lesbian/gay rights. Under his Labour Party government, Clause 28 was repealed, the gay male age of consent was equalised at sixteen (2001), civil partnership legislation (civil unions) were introduced, and gay adoption reform passed after several libertarian Conservative MPs crossed the floor to support the measure.

Many Christian right issues are treated of matters of conscience by major parties for the purposes of the parliamentary whip, meaning the policies of parties are less important than those of individual members. In recent years, none of the major political parties has promoted such policies, and parliament has moved away from them in free votes. Outside the major political parties, there have been campaigns from small hard-line groups such as The Christian Institute and the Scottish Christian Party. Despite occasional attempts to reduce time limits for abortion access, British pro-life groups have been unsuccessful at limiting women's abortion access, due to that country's long-established and vigilant pro-choice movement. Some newspapers such as the Daily Mail and Daily Express run campaigns and print right-leaning coverage on subjects such as pornography and some of the aims of gay rights campaigners.

Britain, Canada and New Zealand have all faced repeated attempts to introduce voluntary euthanasia legislation, or decriminalise voluntary euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide through the courts, in the case of Canada. However, to date, none of these reform efforts have passed the select committee stage in any national, federal or provincial parliament. For example, a euthanasia law reform bill has just been postponed in the United Kingdom's House of Lordsmarker, after a massive anti-euthanasia/pro-care rally in London.

In the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher actively courted the conservative Christian vote throughout her tenure as Prime Minister (1979–1990). However, despite Clause 28 and stricter censorship law and policy, the Conservative Family Campaign proved to be divisive, and the Conservative Party has always had a more active socially liberal libertarian contingent than its Republican counterpart in the United States. The Conservative Family Campaign was closed down in the late nineties under John Major, and replaced with a less strident Conservative Christian Fellowship. To complicate matters, there are also left-wing evangelicals in British Protestant circles, who strongly disagree with the U.S. Christian right over issues like social and environmental policies, and major evangelical and anti-abortion lobby groups like CARE, SPUC and LIFE have always been careful to appear nonpartisan, and not alienate social conservatives within the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats.

Under new Tory leader David Cameron, the Conservative Party has backed away from actively courting evangelical and fundamentalist voters out of fear of alienating other significant electoral interest constituencies, such as young professionals.

The Netherlands

In the Netherlandsmarker evangelical and fundamentalist Christians have their own broadcasting association, the Evangelische Omroep (EO), and their own political parties, the Reformed Political Party and Christian Union. The EO promotes creationism, unconditional support for Israel and opposition against gay rights, euthanasia and abortion. In 2007, the Christian Union became a government party. The Reformed Political Party is a Calvinist political party which opposes the separation of church and state. An area of the Netherlands has earned the nickname The Bible Belt due to its large concentration of conservative evangelicals and Calvinists.

Current trends

Generational issues

A recent study by the Barna Research Group concluded that most Americans under the age of 40 have a negative view of evangelical Christians as a result of the activities of the Christian Right. The study found that many young people viewed the Evangelical movement as homophobic, sexist, and even hypocritical on issues such as capitalism and the death penalty.

When describing voting trends of twenty-somethings, neoconservative journalist David Frum commented on a divergence of viewpoint between the Christian right and younger generations and the inability of the current Christian right leadership to accept and connect with the values and aspirations and overall changing views of the next generation:

See also


Further reading

  • Diamond, Sara. 1995. Roads to Dominion: Right-Wing Movements and Political Power in the United States. New York: Guilford. ISBN 0-89862-864-4.
  • Green, John C., James L. Guth and Kevin Hill. 1993. “Faith and Election: The Christian right in Congressional Campaigns 1978–1988.” The Journal of Politics 55(1), (February): 80–91.
  • Himmelstein, Jerome L. 1990. To The Right: The Transformation of American Conservatism. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Marsden, George. Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism.
  • Martin, William. 1996. With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America, New York: Broadway Books. ISBN 0767922573
  • Micklethwait, John and Adrian Wooldridge. 2004. The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America. Penguin Books. New York, NY. ISBN 1594200203
  • Noll, Mark. 1989. Religion and American Politics: From the Colonial Period to the 1980s.
  • Noll, Mark and Rawlyk, George: Amazing Grace: Evangelicalism in Australia, Canada, Britain, Canada and the United States: Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press: 1994: ISBN 0-7735-1214-4
  • Ribuffo, Leo P. 1983. The Old Christian right: The Protestant Far Right from the Great Depression to the Cold War. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. ISBN 0-87722-598-2.
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  • Smith, Jeremy Adam, 2007, Living in the Gap: The Ideal and Reality of the Christian Right Family. Public Eye magazine, Winter 2007–08.
  • Wald, Kenneth. 2003. Religion and Politics in the United States.
  • Wilcox, Clyde. Onward Christian Soldiers: The Religious Right in American Politics.
  • Wills, Garry. Under God: Religion and American Politics.

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