Rise of the Modern Religious Right and its Association With the Republican Party (6440 words)

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Write a research paper about the rise of the modern religous right and its association with the Republican party, 1948 - present
The format will be 20 pages double-spaced, with footnotes and a bibliography. MLA or Chicago Manual format are both acceptable in terms of manuscript style.

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RISE OF THE MODERN RELIGIOUS RIGHT AND ITS ASSOCIATION WITH THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, 1948-PRESENT

Religion has always played a dominant role in shaping American politics. Despite the fact that the Constitution mandated the separation of church and state, religious ideals underpinned most of the laws in the past and present United States. During the past half-century, the religious movements in this country, usually divided between a strong, bellicose right-wing movement and a reformist left-wing, has become dominated by the former and instituted reactionary policies. During the 1960s, the religious right’s power was diluted between the Democrats and Republicans as the civil rights movement began a political realignment, especially in the South, where the religious right was at its strongest. The 1970s saw a movement away from the Democratic Party, the home of southern conservatives for a century, due to civil rights backlash and a unique appeal from Richard Nixon, the first successful Republican candidate to explicitly court the South. By 1980, Ronald Reagan realized that the religious right and its Moral Majority, led by the Reverend Jerry Falwell, was the most powerful organized political movement in the country, and made an open appeal for their votes, which he earned on a campaign emphasizing muscular conservatism and a return to American values the religious right believed were besmirched by the leftist movements in the 1960s.
Conservatives of all stripes, religious and secular, were horrified at the rapid lurch towards what they perceived as the left in American politics. Civil rights, the women’s equality movement, and the anti-Vietnam war movement were convulsions threatening to destroy the old American way of life they appreciated in the previous generation. Religious conservatives could stomach previous Democratic administrations led by Franklin Roosevelt, who focused primarily on economics while passing off civil rights and other social reforms to his successors. By the 1960s, these movements proved too much for the religious right, an amorphous group at the time, to tolerate. Morone states that “the sixties fits the pattern of evangelical great awakenings. People flocked out of organizations that had once bound together their society.” The Democratic Party was one of those organizations.
Much of the upheaval the Democrats faced when holding their traditional Solid South occurred after World War II. President Roosevelt built a large and unwieldy political base during the Great Depression that included white southerners, blacks, ethnic whites, and union members of both liberal and moderate persuasion. When Roosevelt died and World War II was won, African-Americans demanded that the Jim Crow laws, which governed social life in the South for 70 years to that point, be reversed. Roosevelt’s successor, Harry S. Truman, was an incrementalist on civil rights. Although he approved of many African-American desegregation proposals, he feared that a white-dominated, religious movement would separate from the Democratic Party if he pushed too far on civil rights. The first signs of serious fissure in the Democratic Party occurred in 1948, when Senator Hubert H. Humphrey of Minnesota delivered a firebrand speech supporting civil rights and desegregation at the Democratic National Convention in 1948. When Humphrey spoke in front of the convention in that “the time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadows of states’ rights and to walk right forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights,” several Southern delegations defected from the party and formed the Dixiecrat Party. Southern religious beliefs played a significant role in Dixiecrat attitudes; Southern conservatives heard sermons that either downplayed or supported segregation on a weekly basis. Truman won the 1948 election, but the cracks in the previously dominant Democratic coalition were showing.
By the 1950s, Southerners began to accustom themselves to voting for Republicans, an idea previously forbidden because the GOP was considered the Party of Lincoln....

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