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Randall Balmer (Ph.D., Princeton University), a prize-winning historian and Emmy Award nominee, is the John Phillips Professor in Religion at Dartmouth College. Before coming to Dartmouth in 2012, he was professor of American religious history at Columbia University for twenty-seven years, and he visa mer has been a visiting professor at Princeton, Yale, Drew, Emory, and Northwestern universities and in the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including Evangelicalism in America and Redeemer: The tile of Jimmy Carter. His second book, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America, now in its fifth edition, was made into a three-part series for PBS. He has written and hosted two other documentaries for PBS, and he is working on another, a history of the Orthodox Church in Alaska. Dr. Balmer's commentaries about religion in America have appeared in newspapers across the country, including the Los Angeles Times, the Des Moines Register, the Washington Post, the Santa Fe flew Mexican, and the New York Times. Dr. Balmer was ordained an Episcopal priest in 2006. visa färre
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Verk av Randall Balmer

Encyclopedia of Evangelicalism (2002) 91 exemplar
Protestantism in America (2002) 26 exemplar

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You’ve probably heard the self-reinforcing story. Yes, in general, American Evangelicals were not a well-mobilized group for voting and influencing American politics throughout much of the twentieth century. But then the Supreme Court handed down their decision on Roe vs. Wade, and Evangelicals were mobilized to vote regarding abortion.

Well, as said by the Secretary of Defense in Independence Day, “that’s not entirely accurate.”

In Bad Faith: Race and the Rise of the Religious Right, Randall Balmer provides the far more unsettling story based on primary documents and conversations and interviews with some of the primary architects of the rise of the “Religious Right.”

Paul Weyrich is the name regarding which you rarely hear but was highly influential behind the scenes. For years he sought to find some way to catalyze conservative Evangelicals to vote, and specifically, to vote Republican. He sought issue after issue. Nothing was really “sticking.”

There was not, in fact, a polarization or political push in the immediate aftermath of the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision. The primary documents Balmer presents might surprise you: many Evangelical denominations were not against the decision, sought to find ways to value the lives of women and children, and emphasized how access to abortion was not the same as mandating or requiring abortion. Criswell is even quoted in his belief of a child’s life not being fully his or her own until birth and thus why he was not as concerned about abortion as many are today.

Those Evangelicals who were activated to vote in 1976 mostly did so…for the Democratic candidate Jimmy Carter, who was an Evangelical and spoke regarding how his Evangelical faith shaped many of his political commitments.

So what changed? If abortion was not the catalyzing political issue, what was?

As Balmer powerfully demonstrates, the catalyzing issue was the push by the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the religious non-profit status of the secondary and post-secondary “segregation academies” and colleges like Bob Jones University in the middle of the 1970s.

Southern segregationalists did not just fade away into the sunset after the Brown vs. Board of Education decision was enforced in the South. They often developed their own private schools which maintained segregation. These were maintained in the 1960s and 1970s and became quite popular among a certain set of white Evangelicals in the South.

And they did not take kindly to the IRS considering them no longer religious non-profit organizations. Even though it was a matter of a tax benefit being removed, many Evangelicals organized and argued as if it were a significant violation of the separation of church and state and a form of persecution. And even though the matter was done and even adjudicated in the days of the Gerald Ford administration, it would be in the 1980 election in which the matter would come to a head.

This was the catalyst Weyrich was looking for and he took full advantage. Believe it or not, Ronald Reagan was not the most ideal conservative Christian candidate. He had been divorced and remarried. As Governor of California he signed pro-choice and gun control legislation. But he managed the dog whistles well and had been well coached about how to cultivate conservative Evangelical votes. And vote for him they did. And they got what they wanted: under the Reagan administration, IRS efforts against the “segregation academies” was pulled back.

During the late 1970s and into the 1980s was when abortion came to the fore and became more than just a “[Roman] Catholic issue.” Nuance was dropped and significant concern for the health and lives of women were marginalized in the attempt to emphasize the health and lives of babies and what it meant for a society to provide access to abortion. Within a few years even the Falwells and other such Evangelical authors of the Religious Right had told themselves often enough that abortion was the catalyzing issue that they believed it.

Does this mean every politically conservative Christian who is fervently against abortion is a closeted, secret racist? No, of course not. But the real history well explains why the moral character and dog whistle racism of DJT was not disqualifying in the eyes of most Evangelicals, and how it can be that conservative Christendom writ large remains quite comfortable with white supremacists in their midst. It was their energy which got the whole political machine up and moving. And it’s never been fully and decisively repudiated.
… (mer)
deusvitae | 1 annan recension | Nov 20, 2023 |
Reason Read: TIOLI, ROOT, Presidents
I purchased this when I was hoping to read something about each president. Jimmy Carter was president during my young adult years.

The writer is from the Evangelical Free Church, involved in Camp Shamineau Ministries, a graduate of Trinity and a professed Progressive Evangelical. So what is a progressive Evangelical. Progressive is a term to make the word “socialism” palatable. Because who wouldn’t want to be progressive? So far I am finding the book interesting because of the author more than his writing about Carter.

Carter was a one term president. Being a progressive evangelical was not enough. He was to progressive for many many Christians. His interview with Playboy even though it did not betray his values hurt him. His middle east involvement was also an area that hurt more than help. Carter held firm to his human rights globally. Carter did win the Nobel Peace Prize even when the majority of US citizens had turned away.

This was an interesting read and the revisit of the seventies was much needed refresher for me because I was so busy working and taking care of my babies that I don't think I spent much time pondering the state of the nation. Many of our same issues are alive and well today and in fact have grown out of all proportion. Not much has been able to stop the trend to focus on personal and social rights instead of running a strong country in the world.
… (mer)
Kristelh | 2 andra recensioner | Sep 27, 2022 |
This is not a book review, it is the ramblings of a disgruntled, annoyed, and tired Christian who is a political liberal-moderate and happens to live in America. Also, I guess there are spoilers? Can you spoil a book like this? Either way, this book is good.

When did abortion become a top-tier issue for American Christianity and the Republican party? Roe v. Wade was ruled upon in 1973, but it was '78-'79 before abortion became a voter issue. This was on the heels of conservative Christians coming out in force to oppose the IRS's battle with the evangelical Bob Jones University over integration: BJU was proud it had no black students, so the IRS took away the school's tax exempted status. This was the first time conservative Christians came out in numbers as a voting bloc. This group had largely relegated itself as an isolationist group, uninterested in the politics of the world. The movement to vote came because Christians in conservative circles saw the IRS's threat of tax exemption over not integrating as a violation of their isolationism.

The Christian right, which was hardly even a thing yet, was fine to leave alone and be left alone. Until they were told by the state that their organizations could not exclude blacks, anyway.

It is telling that early in the 1970s, the Southern Baptist Convention passed a resolution acknowledging that abortion was necessary:

under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother

This resolution was reaffirmed two more times before the end of the 1970s, both after Roe v. Wade was ruled upon by the Supreme Court.

After the fruitless battle over integration, however, those who saw their chance to overturn American politics needed a new topic: the battle against homosexuality and the disintegration of the American family was chosen. This proved less able to move people to vote than expected. There were, of course, quiet minorities within conservative Christianity who were upset about abortion, but they were just that: a minority within the group. Then, in 1979, a man named Frank Schaeffer and his father, Francis Shaeffer, traveled the country showing a film entitled "Whatever Happened to the Human Race?". After a showing in March of that year, the younger Schaeffer gave a speech, he later recounted by saying:

We were calling for civil disobedience, the takeover of the Republican Party, and even hinting at overthrowing our 'unjust pro-abortion government.'

So the agenda was set: abortion would be the issue used to upend American politics and turn one of its two parties into the public-policy wing of conservative Christianity. And despite Jimmy Carter, who had worked to reduce the number of abortions both during his time as governor of Georgia and President, being an "evangelical" himself, he was made a villain when he refused to seek a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion. Ronald Reagan, who was allied with the religious right, became President despite having signed into law "the most liberal abortion bill in the country" in 1967. He was also divorced (Carter was not), which should have been a big no-no for Christians. A Harris poll indicated that Carter would have won the election...if the religious right hadn't voted.

It may have helped that Reagan at least partially campaigned on "unconstitutional regulatory agendas....against independent schools." Race-baiting at its finest, if you ask me. Also, Reagan opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Listen: Ronald Reagan was a racist. Period the end.

But don't just take my word for it. Look up the Reagan-Nixon tape on YouTube and listen to how Reagan describes black people. Go do it right now. It's horrible.

Thus a group which had been largely apolitical (as an overall, unified voting bloc), having retreated in a staunch isolationism in order to distance themselves from the culture, were now being radicalized into action because of the threat of racial equality and moved on to the fight against gay marriage and abortion: not because they were terribly passionate about those issues, mind you, but because they were the necessary tools for the, as quoted above, takeover of the Republican party.

Unfortunately, it was not the religious right itself which motivated the change, nor the Republican party, but a group of a few individuals who wanted to see the two groups coalesce into a political force to be reckoned with. This small group of individuals wanted political power, knew they needed control of the Republican party to achieve it, and knew they needed the religious right to get there.

Forgive me for, at least somewhat, recounting the content of this book. But it's important to know what this book is and isn't. It's not an argument that abortion should be legal or illegal. It is, however, an argument that abortion was a fringe issue, later raised on the tail-end of the losing battle for segregation, by a few bad actors who wanted to seize control of a political party. This is a takeover which is largely complete today. Christians who identify as liberal, or (worse yet) as the D-word (Democrats) are view with skepticism within conservative Christianity. To be a Christian in modern America, it seems as though a person must almost have a Republican Party membership card in their wallet, donate to conservative politicians, own shotguns, hate gay people, wear MAGA caps (and "Make American Great Again," by the way, was used as a Reagan slogan), and hold on...*checks notes*...oh! try to overthrow the government by the impeding of a largely ceremonial Congressional process. Don't forget what Schaefer said after his movie:

We were calling for civil disobedience, the takeover of the Republican Party, and even hinting at overthrowing our 'unjust pro-abortion government.'

It's all according to plan.
… (mer)
AKBWrites | 1 annan recension | Jul 19, 2022 |
5769. Redeemer The Life of Jimmy Carter, by Randall Balmer (read 12 Dec 2021) This 2014 book tells of Jimmy Carter's life from the standpoint of his religious beliefs, which have always been an important part of his life. It tells how many right-leaning Baptists, and other Protestants, turned on him in 1980 to support a divorced and remarried Republican, which helped lead to his loss of the presidency. But Carter's post-presidency life has been filled with accomplishment, probably more than any other president's life after his time in the White House, resulting in his winning a Nobel prize. It is not an uninteresting book, though I have felt that other books I have read on Carter were for me more engaging.… (mer)
Schmerguls | 2 andra recensioner | Dec 12, 2021 |



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