When the Christian Right burst onto the political scene in the late 1970s, many political observers were shocked. But, God's Own Party shows, they shouldn't have been. The Christian Right goes back much farther than most journalists, political scientists, and historians realize. Relying on extensive archival and primary source research, Daniel K. Williams presents the first comprehensive history of the Christian Right, uncovering how evangelicals came to see the Republican Party as the vehicle through which they could reclaim America as a Christian nation.
Ever since the Christian Right emerged as a political force, the conventional wisdom has been that the movement arose in response to Roe v. Wade and liberal government policies of the 1970s. Williams shows that the roots of the Christian Right are much deeper, dating to the 1920s, when fundamentalists spearheaded a campaign to use politics to restore the influence of conservative Protestantism on American society. He describes the efforts of evangelicals to link this program to a political agenda--an initiative that spawned campaigns against evolution and Catholic political power, and achieved national influence with its crusade against communism. Williams chronicles Billy Graham's alliance with the Eisenhower White House, Richard Nixon's manipulation of the evangelical vote, and the political activities of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and others, culminating in the presidency of George W. Bush. As God's Own Party shows, though the Christian Right has frequently been declared dead, each time it has come back stronger. Today, no Republican presidential candidate can hope to win the party's nomination without its endorsement.
A fascinating and much-needed account of a key force in American politics, God's Own Party is the only full-scale analysis of the electoral shifts, cultural changes, and political agitators at the movement's core--showing how the Christian Right redefined politics as we know it.