Christian right is a term used in the United States to describe right-wing Christian political groups that are characterized by their strong support of socially conservative policies. Christian conservatives principally seek to apply their understanding of the teachings of Christianity to politics and public policy by proclaiming the value of those teachings and/or by seeking to use those teachings to influence law and public policy.
In the U.S., the Christian right is an informal coalition formed around a core of white evangelical Protestants that draws “support from politically conservative Catholics, Jews, Mormons, and occasionally secularists” who share their goals. The movement has its roots in American politics going back as far the 1940s and has been especially influential since the 1970s. Their influence draws, in part, from grassroots activism as well as their focus on social issues and ability to motivate the electorate around those issues.
The Christian right is notable for advancing socially conservative positions on issues including school prayer, stem cell research, homosexuality, contraception, abortion, and pornography.
Although the Christian right is usually associated with the U.S., the movement has been a key factor in the politics of Canada, The Netherlands, Northern Ireland and Australia, among others.
In the 21st century United States, Australia, UK and other countries, the phrases “Christian values” and “family values” are used by conservative political groups to describe some or all of the following political stances:
- censorship of sexual content, especially in movies and on television.
- the desirability of laws against induced abortion
- sexual abstinence outside of marriage and abstinence-only education
- the promotion of intelligent design to be taught in public schools and colleges as an alternative to evolution.
- the desirability of laws against same-sex marriage
- support for laws against the acceptance of homosexuality into mainstream society
- the desirability of organized prayer in public schools
- Family values are political and social beliefs that hold the nuclear family to be the essential unit of society. Familialism is the ideology that promotes the family and its values as an institution.Although the phrase is vague and has shifting meanings, it is most often associated with social and religious conservatives. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the term has been frequently used in political debate, to claim that the world has seen a decline in family values since the end of the Second World War.
Ability to organize
The contemporary Christian right became increasingly vocal and organized in reaction to a series of United States Supreme Court decisions (notably Bob Jones University v. Simon and Bob Jones University v. United States) and also engaged in battles overpornography, obscenity, abortion, state sanctioned prayer in public schools, textbook contents (concerning creationism), homosexuality, and sexual education.
Much of the Christian right’s power within the American political system is attributed to their extraordinary turnout rate at the polls. The voters that coexist in the Christian right are also highly motivated and driven to get out a viewpoint on issues they care about. As well as high voter turnout, they can be counted on to attend political events, knock on doors and distribute literature. Members of the Christian right are willing to do the electoral work needed to see their candidate elected. Because of their high level of devotion, the Christian right does not need to monetarily compensate these people for their work.
Political leaders and institutions