Religion and Politics in Comparative Perspective: Revival of Religious Fundamentalism in East and West

By Bronislaw Misztal; Anson Shupe | Go to book overview

7
REASONS FOR THE GROWING POPULARITY OF CHRISTIAN RECONSTRUCTIONISM: THE DETERMINATION TO ATTAIN DOMINION

Bruce Barron and Anson Shupe

As the Christian Right took shape during the late 1970s, previously little- known names like Falwell, Robinson, Jarmin, McAteer, and LaHaye became widely recognized in North America. The name of Rousas John Rushdoony, however, remained virtually unknown. Thus, it may seem strange that Robert Billings, a leader in the Rev. Jerry Falwell's (now- defunct) Moral Majority organization during its heyday and later a member of the Department of Education under President Ronald Reagan, should have remarked during a backstage moment at the 1980 National Affairs Briefing in Dallas, Texas: "If it weren't for [ Rushdoony's] books, none of us would be here" (quoted in North, 1982: 12).

Just what had Rushdoony done that was so formative? Since the late 1950s he had been churning out imposing, sophisticated material on the relevance of the Bible--particularly biblical law as found in the first five books of the Old Testament--to every facet of human society (see, e.g., Rushdoony, 1986, 1973). Though Billings may have overstated Rushdoony's significance as catalyst in the birth of the Christian Right, there is no question that Rushdoony had been stimulating those conservative Christians who read him to think politically for over two decades.

If Rushdoony did indeed help the Christian Right get off the ground, that phenomenon's more highly visible political activists have since effectively, albeit unintentionally, returned the favor. Their reawakening of evangelical interest in impacting politics and culture has considerably broadened the market for books like Rushdoony's, and several of his colleagues and disciples (more given to popular styles of writing than Rushdoony himself) have seized the opportunity. Now, after thirty years of prolific writing, Rushdoony is no longer an obscure author existing

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