Just before the 1980 elections, the Religious Right burst onto the American political scene. The momentum of Ronald Reagan’s victory, and his endorsement of this conservative effort of fundamentalists, Catholics, and Mormons, carried the movement forward. Some were appointed to government offices; others began concentrating on grassroots activism and voter-registration drives.
In 1986, however, the Religious Right slowed perceptibly. Largely identified with the Republican party, its leaders watched in dismay as Democrats regained majority status in the U.S. Senate. And the present disarray among television evangelists—some of whom lead Religious Right movements—as well as the Iran/contra controversy, appears to have stopped conservatives dead in their tracks.
As the nation begins selecting candidates for 1988, what role will the Religious Right and its secular counterpart, the New Right, play? Washington editor Beth Spring asked noted theologian, author, and educator Carl F. H. Henry to consider the future of the Religious Right. Henry, editor of CHRISTIANITY TODAY for its first 12years, lectures worldwide. He has written over 40 books, including the six-volume God, Revelation and Authority.
The momentum of the New Right appears to have slowed considerably, following its success and visibility from 1980 to 1986. What are the primary reasons for this?
The New Right emerged with an intellectual vigor, literary skill, and cultural excitement that had been lost by the Left. Today it has articulate think tanks and publications, affirms Judeo-Christian values, criticizes ecumenical funding of revolutionary causes, and is alert to religious-liberty concerns. Its leaders are at home in political debate; and ...1
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