- Regulating the Lives of Women: Social Welfare Policy from Colonial Times to the Present.
- Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics.
- Invisible Hands: The Businessmen’s Crusade Against the New Deal.
- The Rhetoric of Eugenics in Anglo-American Thought.
- The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- September 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- March 2013
- January 2013
- September 2012
- July 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
Termsabortion activism agency anti-feminism Aristotle Burke capitalism choice class collaboration community_engagement composition conservatism conservatives critical theory cultural studies cultural_studies culture definition democracy discourse dissertation economics Enlightenment family feminism feminist theory Foucault fundamentalism gender global capitalism globalization history ideology JB_Scott labor language liberalism literacy Marxism modernity neoconservatism neoliberalism networks oppression pedagogy philosophy politics positivism postcolonialism postmodernism poststructuralism power professional writing professional_writing race religion rhetoric rhetorical analysis service_learning sexism sexuality social justice sovereignty subjectivity technical writing technical_writing theology theory transnationalism WAC welfare women work writing
Abramovitz, Mimi. Regulating the Lives of Women: Social Welfare Policy from Colonial Times to the Present. Boston: South End, 1996. Print.
“Since welfare benefits provided an alternative to the market wage, any plan to push wages down had to include reducing the value of social benefits so that stagnating paychecks would not cause workers to choose government assistant over low-paid market work. During the post-World War II years, corporate leaders had, however, reluctantly, supported social welfare spending because the resulting cash assistance, education, and training and social service programs increased consumer purchasing power; created healthy, educated, and properly socialized workers; and promoted political stability. This support receded in the mid-1970s. Changes in the domestic and global economies led business and government to denounce the welfare state for interfering with private investment, for providing workers with an alternative wage which increased their leverage at the workplace, and for empowering popular movements. Since the 1930s, these popular movements had politicized the process of income distribution carried out through collective bargaining and government tax and spending programs. By the 1980s, business and government no longer desired to meet these continued demands. Instead, they disinvested in social welfare and acted to weaken the influence of organized labor, civil rights, and women’s groups who might object to these changes.
“During the same time that the economy stalled, changes in family structure challenged the foundations of patriarchal arrangements. This gave rise to efforts to restore traditional gender roles and the family ethic.
“The declining marriage rate, combined with more single motherhood, non-marital births, and gay and lesbian parenting, produced near hysteria about the need to restore ‘family values.’ Searching for explanations, the White House Working Group on the Family appointed by President Reagan issued a report in 1986 that blamed government programs. The Family: Preserving America’s Future maintained that the expansion of the welfare state and the social revolutions of the 1960s force the traditional American family to cede ‘too much of its authority to courts and rule-writers, too much of its voice in education and social policy, too much of its resources to public officials at all levels.’ The ‘abrasive experiments of two liberal decades,’ it concluded, have ‘frayed the fabric of family life.’ The Working Group added, ‘Neither the modern family nor the free enterprise system would long survive without the other.’ As the ‘seedbed of economic skills, money, habits, attitudes toward work, and the art of financial independence,’ it is families that teach that ‘effort results in gains and prepares skilled and energetic workers who are the engine of democratic capitalism.” The White House group and its supporters hoped that shrinking social welfare benefits would help to restore the two-parent, male-headed heterosexual family. Deprived of cash assistance, women would be less likely to turn to public aid as an alternative to work or as an alternative to marriage and economic dependence on men” (Abramovitz 350-1).
Lind, Michael. Made in Texas: George W. Bush and the Southern Takeover of American Politics. New York: Basic Books, 2009. Print.
“Hostile to the world and encapuslated in its own subcultural network of institutions, Southern Protestant fundamentalism at the beginning of the twenty-first century had hardly changed from the 1920s, when it took on its present form. Beginning in the 1970s, Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and later Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition mobilized the so-called religious right–really the white Southern Protestant fundamentalist right, most of whom in previous generations had been conservative Democrats. Although genuine fundamentalists amount to no more than around 5 percent of the U.S. population, the high turnout of religious-right activists in the Republican primary elections allowed them to capture the Republican Party by the 1990s. As these ex-Democratic Southern fundamentalists hijacked the GOP, growing numbers of Republicans int eh Northeast, Midwest, and West Coast quit the party in disgust, becoming Democrats or Independents.
“While the Southern Protestant fundamentalists dominated the Republican Party at the level of activists and voters, they were under-represented among Republican policy experts, intellectuals, academics, and journalists. The reason was obvious: anti-intellectual cultures, like that of the fundamentalist South, do no produce world-class, or even national-class, intellectuals.
“Incapable of producing intellectuals of its own, the Southern right borrowed some from the East Coast left. In the 1980s and 1990s, Southern Protestant fundamentalists found intellectual allies among the ‘neoconservatives.’ Like the Southern conservatives, and unlike the old Republican elites, the neoconservatives had been Democrats who switched to the Republican Party following the leftward lurch of the Democrats in the 1960s. Most were first- or second-generation Jewish-Americans, but a few were Catholic or mainline Protestant. Most in practice were secular; their religious affiliation, if any, was a matter of ethnicity rather than of devout belief. In their outlook as well as their backgrounds, these secular Northeastern intellectuals, often educated in, or employed by, Ivy League universities, could not have been more unlike the ‘Bible-believing Christians’ of the American South.
“At first the neoconservative-fundamentalist alliance was limited to the shared goal of supporting Israel against its critics (this aspect of the alliance will be discussed in detail in the following chapter). Over time, however, the leading neoconservatives like Irving Kristol, editor of The Public Interest, and his son William Kristol, editor of The Weekly Standard, gradually adopted the views of the Southern religious right on social policy, like opposition to abortion and gay rights, hostility to biotechnology, and support for government subsidies to religious schools. The rightward drift of the neoconservative movement led many prominent moderate neoconservatives, like Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Daniel Bell, Peter Berger, and Samuel P. Hunington, to distance themselves from it or sever their ties.
“By the year 2000, a Frankensteinian operation stitched the bodiless head of Northeastern neoconservatism on the headless body of Southern fundamentalism. Neoconservative intellectuals like William Kristol and William Bennet sought to translate the beliefs of the Southern fundamentalists who controlled the Republican Party in the language of mainstream American policy debate. Cynics interpreted this as hypocritical opportunism. When Baptist voters elected Republican presidents, the good jobs in Washington went, not to Baptist appointees, but to Ivy League-educated Jewish, Catholic, and mainline Protestant neoconservatives. [This is what Michael Farris and Patrick Henry College want to change.]
“The neoconservative intellectuals defended their opportunistic alliance with the anti-intellectual Southern fundamentalists with an ingenious rationale. This was the argument that American politics was characterized by a ‘culture war’ between religion and secular humanism, which some neoconservatives quaintly called ‘irreligion.’ In this struggle, the neoconservatives argued, religious Protestants, Catholics, and Jews had to set aside their theological differences in order to unite against the forces of irreligion.
“While this theory was useful in justifying the alliance of ambitious East Coast apparatchiks with Deep South voters, it suffered from fatal flaws. To being with, ordinary Protestant fundamentalists continued to believe that Catholics were not genuine Christians and that Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and secularists would burn in hell for eternity unless they converted to Christianity. The Christian Coalition’s attempt to create a Catholic wing failed because fo the anti-Catholic bigotry of the fundamentalists. And the enduring racial prejudices of Southern fundamentalists prevented them from winning over black Protestants, whose religious views were similar to their own.
“What is more, few of the neoconservatives who filled positions in the executive branch, Congress, Washington think tanks, or political magazines could be distinguished, in their personal lives, from ordinary secularists who engaged in premarital sex and took advantage of the legality of contraception and abortion. While devout Protestant fundamentalists tried to live according to their beliefs, most neoconservatives preached moral conservatism while they practiced moral liberalism” (Lind 113-6).
Phillips-Fein, Kim. Invisible Hands: The Businessmen’s Crusade Against the New Deal. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010. Print.
p. 10 – formation of the American Liberty League
p. 11 – Roosevelt notes that the ALL was silent about protecting the rights of the individual.
p. 13 – capitalist system more vulnerable to wealthy men than to communists
p. 14 – anti populasim, rhetorical circulation
p. 15 – corporations stockpiling weapons during WWII?
p. 18 – socialism and free enterprise mutually exclusive
p. 21 – fearmongering about social security benefits \
p. 28 – eradicate central planning
p. 34 – von mises
p. 36 – Austrians romanticized individual
p. 37, 38 – submission to the marketplace, society always in flux
p. 44 – rhetorical strategy
Hasian, Marouf Arif. The Rhetoric of Eugenics in Anglo-American Thought. Athens, GA: U of Georgia P, 1996. Print.
2 – rebirth of eugenic discourse in the late twentieth century
2 – rhetoric of “necessity” (precursor of crisis rhetoric?)
5 – popularity of eugenics in democratic communities
5 – “scientific rationalization of class and race prejudices” and social/cultural/gender changes
6 – eugenics a way of “understanding rapid changes”
7 – scientific questions and methods are shaped by their lexicons
7 – according to radical view of language, rhetoric is not only epistemic, but also has an ontological function
7 – “In seeking a more moderate and productive stance, I adopt a materialist/functionalist view that treats rhetoric as an influential (but not omnipotent) part of the construction of scientific knowledge. Throughout this book, I employ an ideographic analysis that focuses on the persuasive elements of eugenics as a science. Extending the work of McGee, Condit, Lucaites, and other scholars interested in understanding the impact of discourse in facilitating or hindering social change, I trace the ways that both rhetors and their audiences viewed the study of the feebleminded.”
8 – “An ideographic perspective, which acknowledges the existence of biological and physical limits on symbolic constructions, can nevertheless provide us with an appreciation of the role that rhetoric plays in the creation of power relations in scientific texts and contexts.”
8- “An ideographic perspective provides scholars with a useful methodological tool because it attempts to combine the concerns of materialist and symbolic interactionist views of language.”
8 – “The importance of an ideographic analysis comes from its empirical approach, which attends to the way that a public actually voiced its concerns over an issue rather than looking fore [sic] the ways that the ‘masses’ failed to live up to some rational standard.”
9 – “In order to locate and describe the usages of each of these key words, this perspective encourages a researcher to investigate the diversity of arguments that are supplied in magazines, journals, and newspapers because these are some of the key texts that influence the ways in which ordinary citizens frame controversial issues.”
9 – “trying to decode how those universalizations were created in the first place.:
9 – “It simply asks researchers to take seriously the possibility that those who claim to represent factions of the public are participants in the creation of the social rules that regulate their own lives and channel their opinions.”
10-11 – “tracing ideographic components…” shows how rights were created in the first place.
11 – ideographic: “evocative terms that are used…to gain the assent of multiple constituencies” (has multiple/ambiguous meanings)
14 – “eugenics” was an ideograph
21 – eugenics: “artificially regulating human heredity”
22 – 23 – eugenic arguments – “rhetorical fragments, representing the ideologies…”
23 – revival of eugenics in mid-1990s
23 – concerns correspond to 1920s concerns (economic similarities a co-incidence?)
25 – eugenics an obsession in early 1900s
26 – eugenic argument that “social improvements began from within, not from ‘without’” (sounds familiar!)
27 – eugenic argument that childbearing is not an individual right, but a social privilege (sounds familiar)
30 – concern with the “rights of the well-born”
32 – link between prohibition and eugenics
36 – eugenic ideas in K-12 curriculum
36 – “texts served to legitimate a hierarchical social order” (just as neoliberals seek to legitimate the polarization of wealth today)
38 – a eugenics catechism
38-39 – Boy Scouts as a way to teach poor kids upper class values
42 – “handbook that painted an idyllic picture of life before the advent of modernity” (see also Lovett)
43 – eugenics in art and entertainment
43 – link between eugenics and immigration restriction bill of 1924
45 – “people who had never heard the word, but thoroughly believed in the principle”
45 – “the greatest achievement was the enlisting of a large number of working class organizations”
54 -”inherent immorality” of blacks; their reproduction referenced as a “grave problem”
55 – “our America is a white America”
58 – eugenics as the latest iteration of the “divine right of kings”
59 – environment unwelcome to black intellectuals’ counter arguments to eugenic appeals
72 – women and eugenics, a complicated issue for women
81 – American women’s arguments
82 – KKK and eugenics
84 – bad genes are your fault (biological determinism and rhetoric of self-determination); seemingly conflicting appeals to nature/nurture
86 – feminist/reformers were uneasy about eugenic demands on women
“Economic correctness” (Aune) today echoes the logics of eugenics that discounts the need for social services, legitimates the status quo of polarized wealth. Thus we have a proliferation of articles that report the ‘Habits of Happy People.’”
87 – Sanger – birth control for maintaining status quo
88 – women activists insisted on “free, self-determined motherhood”
93 – Differences in response to earlier and later immigrants
101 – Catholic views on eugenics changed over time, most opposed compulsory sterilization
103 – Lapp: “Is a person sick from overwork or contagion unfit to survive?”
126 – Difficulty for American liberals/progressives
129 – immigration
Don’t communism and capitalism both claim to create/produce/establish classless societies?
135 – liberal/progressive views on eugenics
136 – “Blaming victims for their poverty”
137 – rhetorical/compromise, “new conservatives took into account the environment…claimed…that the character of the poor created the slums”
139 – “ideographic fragments,” “a society’s collective commitments”
140 – rhetorical shifts between WWII and 1980s, 1990s
141 – “passage of time brought changes…that allowed new questions to be raised” (It is these changes that my first chapter narrates.)
141 – conservative backlash against women’s/civil rights advances
141 – description of milieu hospitable to rhetoric of eugencis (no mention of neoliberalism/globalization)
142 – “sensitize ourselves to the polysemic ways that eugenics can enter our lives”
142 – financial viability of genetic research required for obtaining funding (or, to be funded scientific research must adhere to “economic correctness”)
143 – Human Genome Project explains everything about humans!
143 – Conflict between genetic predetermination and free will? (see also p. 153)
144 – “functional appropriation of ‘choice’ as the new ideographic term”
145 – “selective discursive fragments”
146 – propensity to “ignore the ways eugenics may be performed in the media, in the halls of Congress, and even in the laboratory”
146 – “process of defining…is a matter of power relationships”
146 – necessity of considering genetic profile in making marriage choices
147 – comparison between HGP and eugenics rhetorics (see also pp. 149, 151)
147 – right to “choice,” but it must be the “right” choice (sounds familiar!)
148 – insurance implications (see also p. 150)
150 – “involves prevention, not caretaking” (In other words, this genetic focus calls for a cure-making rather than a care-giving medical model
153 – shift from the “pre-determined” language of eugenics to the “pre-disposed” language of genetic mapping
155 – “the modern rhetorics of eugenics are now being redeployed to support traditional biases, sexual stereotypes, and ‘prevailing ideologies’” –and “traditional family values”
159 – Definition: “Ideology in its broadest sense may be defined as the use of symbol systems to influence social change. From an ideographic perspective, ideologies are made up of ideographs, narratives, myths, characterizations, and other discursive units. This discursive approach to ideology combines the insights of the materialism of the neo-Marxists with some of the arguments of symbolic interactionists. A critic engaged in ideographic research would agree with the Marxists that there are ‘givens’ within the human environment that ‘impinge’ on the use and development of language but would reject the view that this means that discourse cannot influence economics. A critic would also agree with the symbolist who regards humans as symbol-using, myth-creating animals but might reject the argument that reality is nothing but myth. An ideographic analysis combines the two perspectives and argues that symbols and material realities operate in a recursive, mutually reinforcing manner. In other words, humans, in their use of ideographs, do influence social action, and material conditions in turn affect the way in which we create our symbol systems.
“The discursive units of a public vocabulary have usages that help individuals and communities rhetorically construct ‘peoples,’ ‘nations,’ and ‘races.’ Ideologies work to condition (rather than cause–humans still have volition) human beings to accept particular warrants or excuses for action or belief. An ideographic approach is closer to the ideal of humans working through culture in order to create laws and other social constructions. The power of an ideology is that it may obviate the need for coercion, if public actors come to act on the basis of their beliefs in the ideographs. For an ideographic analysis, an ideology is not something that contributes to a ‘false consciousness’ but is an essential ingredient in the value structure of a particular community” (emphasis added, Hasian 159-160).
“The Three Faces of Work-Family Conflict: The Poor, the Professionals, and the Missing Middle”
Joan C. Williams
Center for WorkLife Law, University of California, Hastings College of the Law
Center for American Progress
Introduction and summary
Work-family conflict is much higher in the United States than elsewhere in the developed
world.6 One reason is that Americans work longer hours than workers in most other developed countries, including Japan, where there is a word, karoshi, for “death by overwork.”7 The typical American middle-income family put in an average of 11 more hours a week in 2006 than it did in 1979.8
Not only do American families work longer hours; they do so with fewer laws to support
working families. Only the United States lacks paid maternity-leave laws among
the 30 industrialized democracies in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and
Development.9 The only family leave available to Americans is unpaid, limited to three
months, and covers only about half the labor force.10 Discrimination against workers
with family responsibilities, illegal throughout Europe,11 is forbidden only indirectly here.
Americans also lack paid sick days, limits on mandatory overtime, the right to request
work-time flexibility without retaliation, and proportional wages for part-time work. All
exist elsewhere in the developed world.12
So it should come as no surprise that Americans report sharply higher levels of workfamily
conflict than do citizens of other industrialized countries.13 Fully 90 percent of
American mothers and 95 percent of American fathers report work-family conflict.14 And
yet our public policymakers in Congress continue to sit on their hands when it comes to
enacting laws to help Americans reconcile their family responsibilities with those at work.
“Opt Out” or Pushed Out?: How the Press Covers Work/Family Conflict
The Untold Story of Why Women Leave the Workforce
Joan C. Williams, Jessica Manvell, and Stephanie Bornstein
The Center for WorkLife Law; University of California, Hastings College of the Law
© Joan C. Williams 2006
“The first step is to examine how we define the “ideal worker” for high-profile jobs: as someone who starts to work in early adulthood and works, full time and full force, for forty years straight. That means no time off for childbearing. Or childrearing. Whom does this Ideal Worker describe? Not mothers. It is an ideal framed around men living the traditionally masculine biography of a breadwinner married to a homemaker. This ideal was well suited to the workforce of the 1950s. It is not well suited to today’s workforce, when 70% of households have all adults in the labor force (Kornbluh, 2003).” (page 9)
“Chapter 3 introduces three new story lines that explain why U.S. women are leaving the paid workforce — because they are being pushed out by (1) an outdated, unrealistic workplace structure designed around the 1950s concept of the Ideal Worker, (2) workplace bias and discrimination against mothers, and (3) the failure of U.S. public policy to help workers balance work and family responsibilities.” (page 10)
“The Opt Out story line sends the reassuring message that nothing needs to change.” (page 10)
“For policymakers, the key message is that working families need greater supports and that, without them, U.S. comp” (page 10) “A return to traditionalism” narrative (page 32)
Opt-out stories reinforce the neoliberal idea of a self-sufficient individual who doesn’t question the structural factors of her life. (page 32). “Many women aren’t rejecting work; they are rejecting inflexible workplaces while trying hard to find alternatives” (page 33)
“This is an important development that impacts women’s ability to remain in the workforce, yet none of the articles we surveyed included data on the recent rise in the working hours of professional/managerial men” (page 34) “Workplace inflexibility often pushes professional/ managerial families into neo-traditional patterns (Moen, 2003). The speed-up at work that often consigns men in these families to workaholic lives, with little involvement with family life, also leaves women with three unattractive choices: (1) have a great career and never see your children awake; (2) take a dead-end, underpaid part-time position; or (3) drop out and face economic vulnerability for your children and yourself. These are hardly choices to celebrate, yet only 30% of the articles we read acknowledge that women are being offered bad choices.” (page 37)
“High benefits loads erode the competitiveness of U.S. businesses. They also set up a pernicious dynamic in many American workplaces: Because U.S. employers continue to pay the wages of worker on leave, often they require the remaining employees (many of them already overworked) to cover for workers on leave without additional pay — a practice that fuels resentments.” (page 39)
“The argument that women are opting out typically rests on the assumption that motherhood involves “a mother’s choice,” not discrimination. Yet choice and discrimination are not mutually exclusive. People who experience discrimination must still make choices within the reality of their lives, but a choice by someone stuck between a rock and a hard place cannot be considered a free choice or a choice based solely on the desires of the chooser, with no regard to the context in which that choice is made.” (page 48)
“Recent caselaw from the U.S. Supreme Court arguably insists that the employer take the employee as it finds her — in her real-life situation as the mother of a son with Down’s Syndrome, for example — rather than holding her to the outdated standard of an Ideal Worker without family care responsibilities.” (Page 48).
“Mothers need neither special treatment nor accommodation. Now that women make up 46% of the paid workforce (U.S. Department of Labor, 2005), and 82% of women have children (Downs, 2003), nearly 38% of the workforce (82% of that 46%) are mothers who have to balance both work and family responsibilities. Courts may be signaling that it is time for employers to change workplace expectations to the workforce that exists today — a workforce that includes not only mothers, but also many other adults with family care responsibilities, notable fathers, baby boomers caring for their elderly parents, and workers with ill family members who are being scuttled out of hospitals ever sooner in order to control health care costs.” (page 48)
“But, as much of this report has tried to show with demographic and economic data, we must begin to part with what is “comforting” and instead try to reach for what may be closer to the truth: that structural inflexibilities, outdated models of the “ideal worker” and unfair discrimination are impacting women’s abilities to remain in the workforce as mothers.” (page 51)
Balmer, Randall Herbert. Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America. New York: Basic, 2006. Print.
“Evangelicals generally, and the Religious Right in particular, chose around 1980 to deemphasize radically the many New Testament denunciations of divorce and to shift their condemnations to abortion, and later, to homosexuality–all the while claiming to remain faithful to the immutable truths of the scriptures” (Balmer 9).
“Selective literalism continues to serve an important function for the Religious Right. It allows them to locate sin outside of the evangelical subculture (or so they think) by designating as especially egregious those dispositions and behaviors, homosexuality and abortion, that they believe characteristic of others, not themselves. … Divorce was too close for comfort–many fellow believers had transgressed this boundary themselves–but abortion was somehow different, something that they could pretend existed only in the secular world they reviled” (Balmer 10).
“In the 1980s, in order to solidify the shift from divorce to abortion, the Religious Right constructed an abortion myth, one accepted by most Americans as true. Simply put, the abortion myth is this: Leaders of the Religious Right would have us believe that their movement began in direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Politically conservative evangelical leaders were to morally outraged by the ruling that they instantly shed their apolitical stupor in order to mobilize politically in defense of the sanctity of life. Most of these leaders did so reluctantly and at great personal sacrifice, risking the obloquy of their congregants and the contempt of liberals and ‘secular humanists,’ who were trying their best to ruin America. But these selfless, courageous leaders of the Religious Right, inspired by the opponents of slavery in the nineteenth century, trudged dutifully into battle in order to defend these innocent unborn children, newly endangered by the Supreme Court’s misguided Roe decision.
“It’s a compelling story, no question about it. Except for one thing: It isn’t true” (Balmer 11-2).
Resolution adopted by Southern Baptist Convention delegates in 1971: “we call upon Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of sever fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence that the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother” (Balmer 12).
W. A. Criswell, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas: “I have always felt that it was only after a child was born and had a life separate from its mother that it became an individual person, and it has always, therefore, seemed to me that what is best for the mother and for the future should be allowed” (qtd. in Balmer 13).
“The IRS sought to revoke the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University in 1975 because the school’s regulations forbade interracial dating; African Americans, in fact, had been denied admission altogether until 1971, and it took another four years before unmarried African Americans were allowed to enroll. The university filed suit to retain its tax-exempt status, although that suit would not reach the Supreme Court until 1983 (at which time, the Reagan administration argued in favor of Bob Jones University)” (Balmer 14).
“[Paul M.] Weyrich, whose conservative activism dates at least as far back as the Barry Goldwater campaign in 1964, had been trying for years to energize evangelical voters over school prayer, abortion, or the proposed equal rights amendment to the Constitution. ‘I was trying to get these people interested in those issues and I utterly failed,’ he recalled in an interview in the early 1990s. ‘What changed their mind was Jimmy Carter’s intervention against the Christian schools, trying to deny them tax-exempt status on the basis of so-called de facto segregation.’
“During the meeting in Washington, D.C., Weyrich went on to characterize the leaders of the Religious Right as reluctant to take up the abortion cause even close to a decade after the Roe ruling. ‘I had discussions with all the leading lights of the movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s, post-Roe v. Wade,’ he said, ‘and they were all arguing that the decision was one more reason why Christians had to isolate themselves from the rest of the world’” (Balmer 15).
“‘What caused the movement to surface,’ Weyrich reiterated, ‘was the federal government’s moves against Christian schools.’ The IRS threat against segregated schools, he said, ‘enraged the Christian community.’ That, not abortion, according to Weyrich, was what galvanized politically conservative evangelicals into the Religious Right and goaded them into action. ‘It was not the other things,’ he said” (Balmer 16).
“The abortion myth serves as a convenient fiction because it suggests noble and altruistic motives behind the formation of the Religious Right. But it is highly disingenuous and renders absurd the argument of the leaders of the Religious Right that, in defending the rights of the unborn, the are the ‘new abolitionists.’ The Religious Right arose as a political movement for the purpose, effectively, of defending racial discrimination at Bob Jones University and at other segregated schools. Whereas evangelical abolitionists of the nineteenth century sought freedom for African Americans, the Religious Right of the late twentieth century organized to perpetuate racial discrimination. Sadly, the Religious Right has no legitimate claim to the mantle of the abolitionist crusaders of the nineteenth century. White evangelicals were conspicuous by their absence in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Where were Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham on August 28, 1963, during the March on Washington, or on Sunday, March 7, 1965, when Martin Luther King, Jr. and other religious leaders from other traditions linked arms on the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to stare down the ugly face of racism?
“Falwell and others who eventually became leaders of the Religious Right, in fact, explicitly condemned the civil rights movement. ‘Believing the Bible as I do,’ Falwell proclaimed in 1965, ‘I would find it impossible to stop preaching the pure saving gospel of Jesus Christ, and begin doing anything else–including fighting Communism, or participating in civil-rights reforms.’ This makes all the more outrageous the occasional attempts by leaders of the Religious Right to portray themselves as the ‘new abolitionists’ in an effort to link their campaign against abortion to the nineteenth century crusade against slavery” (Balmer 16-7).
“The election of Bill Clinton stalled the Religious Right’s progress on the abortion issue–under no circumstances would Clinton either sign legislation limiting a woman’s right to choose or nominate a pro-life justice to the Supreme Court. … After casting about, the Religious Right came up with a new foil, an enemy right here among us: homosexuals. Although evangelicals have always been uneasy about homosexuality, gays and lesbians suddenly represented all manner of threats. They were corrupting our children and infecting our military” (Balmer 24-5).
“After casting about [for a new enemy in the 1990s], the Religious Right came up with a new foil, an enemy right here among us: homosexuals. Although evangelicals have always been uneasy about homosexuality, gays and lesbians suddenly represented all manner of threats” (Balmer 25).
“Why has homosexuality proven to be such a durable issue for the Religious Right? Like abortion, it allows evangelicals to externalize the enemy, based on the supposition that no true believer could be gay or lesbian. It also works because it plays on the popular anxieties about sexual identity and gender roles in the wake of the women’s movement of the 1960s. ‘We would not be having the present moral crisis regarding the homosexual movement if men and women accepted their proper roles as designated by God,’ Jerry Falwell wrote back in 1980″ (Balmer 26).
“What should we read into the fact that evangelical conservatives dropped their longstanding denunciations of divorce around the same time they embraced Ronald Reagan, a divorced and remarried man, as their political savior in 1980? Not only have leaders of the Religious Right betrayed scripture, but they have shamelessly manipulated important issues–gay rights, abortion–for partisan purposes, all the while ignoring Jesus’ teachings on other matters. Deeply complicated subjects have become mere political cudgels in the hands of the Religious Right, issues have calculated to rally the faithful for political ends. They have taken complex, human problems and reduced them to campaign slogans. They have distorted the faith, the ‘good news’ of the New Testament, into something ugly and punitive” (Balmer 32-3).
“For the Religious Right, the quest for power and political influence has led to both distortions and contortions–the perpetuation of the abortion myth, for instance, or the selective literalism that targets certain sexual behaviors for condemnation, while ignoring others. History, moreover, teaches us the dangers of allying religion too closely with politics. It leads to intolerance in the political arena, and it ultimately compromises the integrity of the faith” (Balmer 34).