Jon Shields on Democratic Virtues & the Christian Right
Date: December 13th, 2010

Prof. Jonathan A. Shields (assistant professor of government, Claremont McKenna College) talks about about his latest book, The Democratic Virtues of the Christian Right, with Tony.  Whereas popular media accounts of the Christian Right during the 1980s portrayed this loosely knit movement as belligerent, Prof. Shields finds that Christian activists are often trained to press their issues in the public arena in ways that facilitate deliberative democracy.  Taking the pro-life movement as his primary test case, he examines how this movement has evolved over the past four decades.  Jon interestingly notes that the anti-abortion movement had its roots in Catholic progressivism and the Civil Rights protests of the 1960s.  During the 1970s, evangelical Protestant Christians became increasingly involved in promoting a pro-life agenda.  We examine Operation Rescue, one of the more confrontational groups within this movement and explore why it eventually fizzled out as a major organization, and what strategies and organizations played a more prominent (albeit quieter) role, including the National Right to Life Committee.  Jon covers some of the strategies and training methods activists use that promote democratic norms and enhance issue deliberation.  We broaden our discussion to examine the rise and decline of the Moral Majority and what groups such as the Christian Coalition have done in its place.  Contrary to what one might glean from media reports over the past several decades, evangelical Christians have become more politically active in the 1990s and continue to be in the first decade of the 21st century.  We finish off with some thoughts about the future of the Christian Right and the role it may be playing in the Tea Party movement.  Recorded: November 2, 2010.

RELATED LINKS

The Democratic Virtues of the Christian Right by Jonathan A. Shields.

RELATED PODCASTS

David Brody on the 2010 Midterm Elections and Religious Journalism.

Corwin Smidt on Religion, Elections, and the God Gap.


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