Never run with the crowd. They're probably headed over a cliff.

The Religious Right and the Republican Revolution

Since the election of Ronald Reagan as President in 1980 the United States has seen a monumental shift of political power.


Prior to this the South had been a Democratic stronghold as a result of the Civil War. Even a hundred years after, it had not been forgotten that Lincoln, a Republican, had invaded and decimated the South over what is still claimed by Southerners as primarily an issue of states rights.


Following the Civil War, reconstruction policy, shaped by the victorious Republicans and enacted by unscrupulous carpetbaggers, stymied economic recovery of the south for generations. Mistrust of Republicans was widespread by the Democratic white population even as the Party of Lincoln was embraced by emancipated Republican-voting blacks.


This general separation of race and party affiliation held until the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932 when his New Deal provided social programs to which the black population had access. While blacks did not leave the Republican Party en masse immediately, this was the beginning of the exodus. And even though it was the Republican Eisenhower administration that formally began the civil rights movement, it was Kennedy and particularly Johnson who parlayed it into a full-fledged welfare program complete with public housing and direct monetary disbursements. Seen by many blacks as directly benefiting them, the migration to the Democratic Party accelerated greatly.


What resulted, especially in the south, was a tense mix of politics that persisted throughout the sixties and seventies, with local Democratic Parties run exclusively by white men but supported by the vast majority of the Black population. This took time to correct and today we see these parties having become well integrated with a mix of leadership all the way to the top. For this reason it is generally believed that the rise of the religious right was in response to racial pressures when in fact, it was not.


As Blacks were leaving the Republican Party and flocking to the Democrats for economic reasons there were other very important social changes taking place. Most notably the counter-culture of the sixties that embraced faux-peace, tolerance, and came to symbolize the anti-war movement. Because the Democratic Party consisted primarily of liberals, who are less resistant to change, these counter-culture individuals found a much more comfortable home with than with the more traditional, conservative, Republicans irrespective of the changing racial makeup of the party.


But not only did these hippies, as they were called, bring their faux-peace-and-love agenda to the Democratic Party, they also brought high-profile drug use, widespread promiscuity, homosexuality, and other radical notions. Even a cursory examination of the Bible, however, shows that these thoughts and ideas are highly counter to Christian doctrine. Moreover, pro-welfare policies were seen by traditionalists as 'communist' leaning, and part of the tradition of the traditionalists is to reject anything that resembled policies of our sworn enemy, the Soviet Union. Over time these new arrivals to the Democratic Party, with their free-love, drug use, and social rebellion came into conflict with the old guard who still went to church and espoused capitalism. And as they began to infiltrate the leadership of the Party, their ideas started showing up on the platform, first in the North and steadily moving Southward.


This movement progressed and by the late seventies the Democratic Party had, among other liberal changes, become aligned with homosexuality, abortion, and socialism. It was becoming difficult to be a conscientious Christian and retain a Democratic affiliation. That is when the shift occurred. As the Democrat party moved more and more to the left, the Christian constituency of the Democrat Party rebelled and began leaving in droves. So many in fact that the majority of Southern Whites are now Republicans and the majority of Southern Blacks are now Democrats. A reversal of the situation less than 100 years ago.


While this was most pronounced in the south it happened across the nation and the result was what came to be known as “The Religious Right,” a class of religiously affiliated people who were literally forced out of the Democratic Party for ideological reasons. Its peak was probably during the Clinton Administration when numerous government figures changed party affiliation in response to well-known behavior of the then Commander in Chief. The result for the country was a huge displacement of Democrats in the 1994 election with both houses of Congress coming under Republican control.


In recent years it has become convenient for socio-political figures such as Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jerry Falwell, and George II to solidify their party base (and prolong their personal income engine) by playing race cards only adding to the myth of racially-motivated separation. And since this myth favors the Democratic Party, the Democrats have been more than willing to let it persist. The media, which also leans to the left, has completed the revision of history until it has come to be ‘fact.’ And like lemmings, the majority of the American public has dutifully joined their march towards the sea and the long drop that precedes it.


NEXT: The Religious Wrong and the Republican Retreat

Futbol Guru,


No2statism said:

Great blog=]

It definitely is detrimental to every individual that the two parties are both on the left (collectivists, pro-war, against individual liberty); the left is divided into 2 different factions (the Christian Right and their passiveness towards laws favoring group rights is one Leftist faction and the other Leftist faction aggressively supports ethnic minority group rights)

It's shame the Paleo-right (strongly supports individual rights, against group rights, supports liberty, anti-war) isn't in wide existence.

# March 14, 2009 7:23 PM

FutbolGuru said:

Excellent point! I never thought about it that way but it is in fact the subject of my next post: How the Religious Right turned out to be the Religious Wrong.

But I disagree with your last statement. I think the paleo-right is H-U-G-E. They are just well-fed (for now), warm(for now), and reasonably safe(for now). And since they/we have to work all the time to stay that way, who has time or energy to protest?!?

# March 14, 2009 9:49 PM

huh said:

You are completely failing to take into full account the Civil Rights movement and the shift in American politics.  In 1948 because the Democrats had taken the lead in integrating the military and repealing Jim Crow laws in the south the southern democrats left and formed a third party called the Dixiecrats and nominated Strom Thurmond as their presidential candidate.  They ran under the guise of states rights but it was strictly race based. President Truman won barley because the south went with the Dixicrats. After the election all these southern bible belt former Democrats joined the Republican party.  As time progressed Democrats being purged of the southern racist progressed toward civil rights while the Republican party tried to pretend their racism was a patriotic "States Rights" issue.  This culminated in Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act and stating "We have lost the South for a generation."  Ever since then the South has been solidly Republican and blacks have been prominently Democrat.  Religious or not the Bible belt has a tradition of political affiliation based on maintaining the white supremacy in the their communities.

# April 29, 2009 1:37 PM

FutbolGuru said:

The racial effect has been massively overstated throughout the years. Initially there were some white Democrats who defected for race concerns, but the majority of these Democrats remained Democrats and became what was known as a Blue Dog Democrat - conservative Democrats like Bud Cramer claimed to be. There has long been a schism between these white Democrats and Black Democrats in the south. It is largely gone now but it isn't through defection, it is much more through death.

Having been immersed in these politics for the last thirty years I have watched as the Democrats leaned farther and farther to the left, embracing gays, abortion, and other issues that have had a FAR greater effect on driving Democrats away than race ever had. Ultimately they left for religious issues even though, as my article states, they aren't spiritual people, though they have driven the party so far to the right it has become much more a party of social than government and economic ideology.

There were in fact many, if not the majority of elderly democrats who simply refused to vote in the last election. I know this as an absolute certainty from my connection with transporting older people to the polls to vote. They simply didn't go this year because they could not bring themselves to vote for a black man, while many Republicans in my southen district voted for Obama. Which ones are the racists?

# April 29, 2009 3:17 PM

Huh said:

I just reread what I wrote and I think I might have overstated the racism issue.  First it was THE reason many of the elected democrats in Congress and the Senate left the party and became Republicans.  Also their is no denying the voting public in southern areas voted Republican if they felt integration was wrong even after the Civil Rights Act was signed.  I am not suggesting that all Republicans are racist or all Democrats aren't but to ignore the party that was injected with support because of outright racism is disingenuous.

Roe v Wade was decided in Jan of 1973.  Nixon, Ford, Regan, Bush and Bush Jr. did nothing to limit of overturn it. Carter and Clinton were the only Democrat POTUS in the last 36 years (not counting Obama). The Republicans controlled the Senate and Congress outright from 1996-2006 but nothing was accomplished.  Bush appointed more federal judges than any president in History and two supreme court justices effectively extending the Republican control to all three branches of government.  Result on Roe v Wade?  Nothing.  Republican politicians talk a good game but do nothing.

Discrimination against homosexuals is the civil rights issue of today.  Many of the same things we hear about gay rights was said during the fight for African American equality.  I am more libertarian in my political views and feel that all individuals deserve the same right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."  They do not have the right to get married in my church! but the states offer civil ceremonies that are effectively two adults entering into a contract. It has no religious meaning but there are legal ramifications.  The exact opposite is true if you get married in a church but don't get a license. Unless there is a specific law stating marriage is between a man and a women there is no right of the state to prevent two consenting adults from entering into this contract. I also doubt the constitutional validity any law that prevents homosexual civil unions.

# April 30, 2009 7:07 AM