Christian Right Still Setting the Culture War Agenda for Republicans

Posted July 27, 2016

MP3 Interview with Frederick Clarkson, senior fellow for religious liberty with Political Research Associates, conducted by Scott Harris


In one of the most contentious presidential primary campaigns in recent Republican party history, billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump emerged victorious out of a crowded field that began with 17 candidates. Despite the fact that Trump has rejected GOP orthodoxy on some issues such as free trade, Social Security privatization and support for NATO, the former reality TV star did attempt to please and retain the loyalty of one key element of the Republican party coalition, the Christian right. Trump's choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a Christian conservative as his running mate was no accident.

Although Trump is obviously not very religious, has been married three times and curses like a sailor, a recent Pew Research Center poll found that nearly four-fifths of evangelical voters in the U.S. "are rallying strongly in favor of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump." Pew pointed out that "white evangelical Protestants make up one-fifth of all registered voters in the U.S. and roughly one-third of all voters who say they identify with or lean toward the Republican Party."

The just-concluded 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio ratified one of the most right-wing party platforms in GOP history. The platform is a gift to the religious right that includes planks reaffirming opposition to abortion and rights for LGBTQ Americans. The platform also would make Christianity the official religion of America, replace sex education with abstinence-only advice for teenagers and repeal the 50-year-old tax law that prohibits churches and other tax-exempt organizations from political organizing. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Frederick Clarkson, senior fellow for religious liberty with Political Research Associates, who talks about the Republican Party's continued fealty to culture war policies advocated by the Christian Right.

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