Key Architect Said Religious Right Born In Racist Opposition To Civil Rights Act
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri Oct 13, 2006 at 09:51:14 AM EST
In 1990 Randall Balmer, author of the new book "Thy Kingdom Come: An Evangelical's Lament", was invited (inexplicably, he says) to a meeting of key religious right leaders and was surprised to hear key architect of the religious right during the 1970's Paul Weyrich emphatically state that what really started the movement going on the 1970's was not outrage against Roe v. Wade but, rather, outrage over a move by the Carter Administration's justice dept. to enforce the Civil Rights Act by rescinding the tax exempt status of Bob Jones University for its rules against interracial dating.

Writes Balmer:

Weyrich, whose conservative activism dates at least as far back as the Barry Goldwater campaign in 1964, had been trying for years to energize evangelical voters over school prayer, abortion, or the proposed equal rights amendment to the Constitution.

"I was trying to get those people interested in those issues and I utterly failed," he recalled in an interview in the early 1990s. "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."

During the meeting in Washington, D.C., Weyrich went on to characterize the leaders of the Religious Right as reluctant to take up the abortion cause even close to a decade after the Roe ruling. "I had discussions with all the leading lights of the movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s, post-Roe v. Wade," he said, "and they were all arguing that that decision was one more reason why Christians had to isolate themselves from the rest of the world."

"What caused the movement to surface," Weyrich reiterated,"was the federal government's moves against Christian schools." The IRS threat against segregated schools, he said, "enraged the Christian community." That, not abortion, according to Weyrich, was what galvanized politically conservative evangelicals into the Religious Right and goaded them into action. "It was not the other things," he said.

[  You can listen to Linda Wurtheimer's NPR interview of Randall Balmer here ]

Randall Balmer's account suggests a fundamental underlying hypocrisy in the motivations of leaders who engineered the new religious right, and Balmer accuses the movement of having broken with the historical tradition of American evangelical Christianity. Balmer notes

"abolitionists, even the temperance movement which was a progressive cause in the Nineteenth Century, the Women's Movement, Universal Education - all of those were causes that were supported by Evangelicals in the Nineteenth Century and I don't find any correlation in the agenda of the religious right today."

As evidence of a fundamental rupture from historical evangelical tradition, Balmer notes the apparent support among leading Christian right organizations for the US practice of torture - Balmer says he has contacted eight of the major Christian right organizations about their positions on torture but only heard back from two so far - in support of torture.

The proposition that the US antiabortion movement did not arise organically but was specifically manufactured beginning in the late 1970's makes sense in light of the bizarre and anachronistic nature of an early antiabortion protest in the US ( maybe the first ) in which protest members dressed up as Carlists. [ see Talk To Action contributor Frank Cocozzelli's analysis of the protest and Carlism's relationship to Catholicism here ]

On June 6, 1970 the Society for a Christian Commonwealth, which published Triumph, and the "Sons of Thunder" under the leadership of (Frederick "Fritz") Wilhelmsen and (L . Brent) Bozell, conducted "the Action for Life," which was probably the first anti-abortion demonstration in the United States. Fritz, students from the University of Dallas, and others appeared on the scene dressed like Spanish Carlists, or requetes, with red berets, khaki shirts with Sacred Heart patches, and rosaries around their necks. Wilhelmsen, brandishing a twelve-inch crucifix, read from Matthew 25 and the Book of Revelation, warning America that it must someday face God and receive judgment for the killing of its children.

                                           Donald J. D'Elia, Citizen of Rome




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This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (144 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (123 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (185 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (142 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (83 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (189 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (77 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (107 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (105 comments)

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