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Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Future and Past of the Religious Right

I thought I knew quite a bit about the "Religious Right," but after listening to the recent Research on Religion podcast interview with political scientist, Hunter Baker, from Union University in Jackson Tennessee ("Hunter Baker on the Past and Future of the Religious Right"). Baker explores the historical and theological roots of the Religious Right, events that helped spur its emergence, some of its more influential figures, its "hey-day" (or maybe "hey-days"), its relationship to the Tea Party, and its future.

Baker believes that now that individuals such as Chuck Colson, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and James Dobson have either passed away or are beginning to pull back from public life, the intellectual baton has passed to Robert P. George, a professor in the Department of Politics at Princeton University and the former chair (and current vice-chair) of the US Commission on International Freedom (USCIRF).

George is an interesting character. He began his political life on the ideological left, twice serving as Governor of the West Virginia Democratic Youth Conference and attending the 1976 Democratic National Convention as an alternate delegate. He moved to the right in the 1980s, primarily because of his views on abortion and his increasing skepticism about the effectiveness of the Democratic Party's "Great Society" programs. Interestingly, George is very good friends (and co-teaches classes) with Cornell West, who clearly does not share George's ideological convictions. However, they are both Christians and have a great respect for one another's commitment to the truth.

Coincidentally, George was the guest on the previous Research on Religion podcast ("Robert P. George on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom"). Both podcasts can be found at the Research on Religion website. They can also be downloaded from iTunes.

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