Agents of Value
Christian Right Activists in 2004
JOHN C. GREEN KIMBERLY H. CONGER, AND JAMES L. GUTH
WITHIN THE INTENSE DEBATE OVER THE MEANING OF THE 2004 election there was a clear point of consensus: The Christian Right was a key player in the campaign. Indeed, the ballots had hardly been counted when a series of liberal pundits blamed Christian conservatives for the outcome (see Marshall 2004)—an accusation that conservative Christian leaders eagerly accepted, gladly taking credit for the Republican victory (Cooperman and Edsall 2004). Although a full explanation of the role of religion in this close election is far more nuanced (Muirhead et al. 2005), the Christian Right was as prominent in 2004 as in any national campaign since 1980.
Christian Right activists helped put initiatives banning same-sex marriage on the ballot in eleven states and then waged strong grassroots campaigns on their behalf (Hook 2004). In addition, there was an unusually close link between the Bush reelection campaign and conservative Christians. The former built its own network of church liaisons to achieve Karl Rove's goal of increasing turnout among evangelical Protestants and other religious traditionalists (Cooperman 2004). The latter deployed new voter mobilization efforts, such as the “I Vote Values” campaign, alongside older tactics, such as voter guide distribution in congregations. In fact, these broader mobilization efforts of the “religious right” revitalized the embryonic “religious left,” anxious to arouse the faithful on behalf of Democrats (Myers 2005).
Who were these movement activists in the 2004 campaign? How did they differ from movement activists in the recent past? This chapter