Can You Pass the Christian Right Quiz?


An understanding of the Christian Right, a loose coalition of politically conservative congregations and organizations, is critical to understanding the U.S. While the Christian Right has largely been frustrated in its attempts to reverse the cultural direction of America—it has failed, for example, to limit women’s rights, censor the media, ban abortions, and prevent gays from serving in the military—it has largely succeeded in influencing the national debate, the Supreme Court, and the Republican Party. This quiz seeks to explore the political influence of the Christian Right and to highlight the threat its radical fundamentalism poses to the majority of Americans who value pluralism and tolerance.

 

Q1. Approximately what percentage of U.S. adults is affiliated with the Evangelical Protestant tradition?

 

Twenty-six percent (http://religions.pewforum.org/maps). It is useful to distinguish between two broad groups of evangelicals: (i) moderate evangelicals who concede that there is more than one legitimate way to worship and serve Christ; (ii) traditional evangelicals—which include those identified as fundamentalists—who come closest to the “Christian Right” discussed in the media. Traditional evangelicals, approximately 12 percent of the U.S. population, are overwhelmingly Republican, openly hostile to democratic pluralism, and promote policies that deny the civil rights of others (such as gays and Muslims). While they insist on tolerance for their brand of Christianity, it is clear that they would not provide the same tolerance to others.

 

A radical subset of traditional evangelicals includes strict fundamentalists called Dominionists, who make more than a few traditional evangelicals uncomfortable. It “is this core group of powerful Christian dominionists who have latched on to the despair, isolation, disconnectedness, and fear that drives many people into…traditional evangelical churches….

 

[The dominionists] can count on the passive support of huge numbers of Christians, even if many of these Christians may not fully share dominionism’s fierce utopian vision, fanaticism or ruthlessness” (Chris Hedges, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America).

 

It should be noted that, since the mid-1970s, conservative Catholics, Jews and other non-evangelicals have been invited into traditional evangelical political organizations (K. Williams, God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right).

 

Q2. Why is the U.S. a far more religious country than the UK, France, Germany, and other economically advanced states?

 

Religious faith has flourished in America as nowhere else precisely because the government has (for the most part, at least) stayed out of the religion business. At the same time, allowing religious groups to function freely in the marketplace of popular discourse has tended to dissipate voices of political dissent…[And] no group has functioned more effectively in this marketplace than evangelicals…[This reality] makes the persistent attempts on the part of the Religious Right to eviscerate the First Amendment utterly confounding” (Randall Balmer, The Making Of Evangelicalism: From Revivalism to Politics and Beyond).

 

If the U.S. had no proscription against religious establishment, religion in America today could look like the Church of England in Great Britain. The Church of England, “the established religion, dr