The Christian Right and Congress

The Christian Right and Congress

The Christian Right and Congress

The Christian Right and Congress

Excerpt

The central objective of this book is to explain the agenda activities and influence of the Christian Right. The fundamental question this study seeks to answer is this: In what manner and degree has the movement shaped the political agenda?

In their seminal work on agenda-building, Cobb and Elder posited two different types of political agendas. The first one they called the "systematic agenda," defined as the "general set of political controversies that will be viewed at any point in time as failing within the range of legitimate concerns meriting the attention of the polity." The second type they called the "institutional agenda," defined as a "set of concrete, specific items scheduled for active and serious consideration by a particular institutional decision-making body." As the definitions imply, the systematic agenda always will be more abstract, general, and broad in scope than any particular institutional agenda, such as that of a legislature or a court.

This volume deals with both the systematic and the institutional agendas, as well as with the relationship between them. The purpose is to explain not only the manner in which the Christian Right placed its concerns on the systematic agenda, but also how it placed them on the specific institutional agenda of the Congress. Beyond that, both the process by and the degree to which the movement has affected the Congress will be examined. In fact, the activities and impact of the Christian Right vis-à-vis the Congress are the main focus of the book.

The thesis undergirding this study is that the movement has been quite successful in influencing the agenda. It has taken numerous issues that were lying virtually dormant on the agenda, redefined and enlarged their appeal, and then placed them on both the systematic and the congressional agendas. Moreover, it has obtained action on many of those issues . . .

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