The term "Religious Right" pops up every election cycle, but leaders often identified with the political movement say that while their constituencies remain strong, the catchphrase deserves a proper burial.

After Election Day, the BBC declared that times are uncertain for the Religious Right. In September 2008, Newsweek declared a Religious-Right Revival after Sarah Palin was nominated vice president. Even after the election, the term "Religious Right" or "Christian Right" appeared in recent obituaries as journalists searched for words to describe Paul Weyrich, cofounder of the Moral Majority, and the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, founder of Catholic journal First Things.

However, several politically conservative evangelicals said in interviews that they do not want to be identified with the "Religious Right," "Christian Right," "Moral Majority," or other phrases still thrown around in journalism and academia.

"There is an ongoing battle for the vocabulary of our debate," said Gary Bauer, president of American Values. "It amazes me how often in public discourse really pejorative phrases are used, like the 'American Taliban,' 'fundamentalists,' 'Christian fascists,' and 'extreme Religious Right.' "

Jerry Falwell, cofounder of the Moral Majority, self-applied the Religious Right label until it started taking a more negative connotation, according to John Green, senior fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

"Terminology is fraught with peril," Green said. "People associated it with a hard-edge politics and intolerance. Very few people to whom that term now would apply would use that term."

Academics believe the phrase originated with the media in the late 1970s after politically conservative groups like the Moral Majority ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
Read These Next
Current IssueWhat to Make of Donald Trump’s Soul
What to Make of Donald Trump’s Soul Subscriber Access Only
And how that might shape our response to his presidency.
Current IssueA Shoplifter’s Search for God
A Shoplifter’s Search for God
I equated material possessions with happiness, until a high-school mission trip changed my thinking.
RecommendedFundamentalists, Modernists, and the Rest of the Story
Fundamentalists, Modernists, and the Rest of the Story
Early 20th-century evangelical history was more than two camps lobbing grenades at each other.
TrendingThe Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
The Theology Beneath the Trump-Comey Conflict
How the former FBI director’s interest in Reinhold Niebuhr shaped his approach to political power.
Editor's PickThe Church’s Three-Part Harmony
The Church’s Three-Part Harmony
Why evangelical, sacramental, and Pentecostal Christians belong together in one body.
Christianity Today
Phrase 'Religious Right' Misused, Conservatives Say
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

February 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.