God at the Grass Roots: The Christian Right in the 1994 Elections

By Mark J. Rozell; Clyde Wilcox | Go to book overview

Preface

This book examines an important facet of the watershed 1994 national elections: the role of the Christian Right in the so-called Republican Revolution. After the Republican landslide, Reverend Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition advertised that it had helped to elect a large number of the GOP congressional candidates and therefore claimed the right to promote its version of policy change in the 104th Congress. Taking its cues from the Republican "Contract with America," the Christian Coalition put forth its own "Contract with the American Family"—an agenda of social policies reflecting the goals of many Christian social conservatives.

The Christian Coalition and other Christian Right groups have certainly succeeded in getting the rest of the country to listen to their call for social policy reform. News media accounts frequently describe the Christian Coalition's young executive director Ralph Reed as one of the country's most influential political operatives. A Time magazine cover story went so far as to tell readers that Reed's plan of "taking over" the political process was "working." With such popular media attention, the Christian Right has attained a degree of political legitimacy among both political elites and the public that it could never before claim.

Further testimony is provided by the efforts of the current crop of GOP presidential aspirants to reach out to the Christian Right. Such moderate conservatives as Senator Robert Dole and economic conservatives as Senator Phil Gramm have gone to extraordinary lengths to show that they support the Christian Right's agenda. Political analysts consider such efforts crucial to the nomination quests of these candidates. So sure are these pundits of the Christian Right's impact on the GOP nominating process that they have routinely dismissed the chances of Senator Arlen Specter—the only candidate to date openly opposed to the Christian Right agenda—and declared his candidacy merely an effort to make a statement about the GOP's captivity to the Christian Right.

To be sure, the Christian Right did not achieve this unprecedented degree of respectability and influence in one election. Rather, influential leaders in the movement have fashioned a long-term strategy of gath

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