Fundamentalism and the American Exception
Despite the constitutional separation of church and state— which Jefferson considered his proudest achievement—religion has always played a role in American political life. And it has not always been the organized religious congregations that have been leaders in crossing the line that the Constitution tries to establish. Religion touches deeper; it affects the language through which people express themselves as well as their vision of the nation to which they belong. What is new in the last two decades is the rise of a religious right that has become an active voting bloc bringing into politics social and cultural (or moral) issues that had been left previously to the private sphere. To interpret this new role of religion, sociological considerations have to be joined to historical and philosophical analysis. It is not enough to cast anathemas on fundamentalism or to denounce its use by one's political enemies.
The first step in the transformation that has taken place was the democratization of the nominating process by which American political parties select their presidential candidates that followed the disastrous designation of Hubert Humphrey as presidential candidate by the party leadership at the Democratic Party's 1968 Chicago