The Christian Conservative Agenda in the United States: From 1980 to 2008

Author: Nathan Church

Church, Nathan, 2011 The Christian Conservative Agenda in the United States: From 1980 to 2008, Flinders University, Centre for Development Studies

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Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to analyse and assess the enduring nature of Christian conservatism within the United States, from 1980 to 2008. Under the direction of a core group of leaders, the movement has stepped out from its insular church base to project their ideals onto the American political and cultural landscape. This radical agenda has been largely motivated by a literal and highly prophetic interpretation of the Bible and this study aims to provide a detailed examination of the consequences of such a worldview. Through engaging with such issues as the presidential election cycle, abortion, the U.S. relationship with Israel and the a case study of a Christian conservative mega-church, this thesis demonstrates the maintained presence of Christian conservatives within U.S. politics and the problematic influence they seek to exert. The issues selected for this study are notable examples of foreign, domestic and cultural politics within the United States that reveal the breadth of scope incorporated within the Christian conservative political agenda. Christian conservatism as a theology has existed within the United States for over a hundred years. However, this study is particularly concerned with its more recent politicisation and the subsequent mobilisation of its adherents into an influential constituency. The effects of this mobilisation and influence have continuously shifted over the scope of this study, and so a central theme of this thesis is the depiction of Christian conservatism as a continually evolving movement. Throughout this time, Christian conservatives have made some gains in seeing various elements of their agenda enacted, only to be disappointed by the ultimate limitations preventing the fulfilment of their goals. This thesis will critically evaluate these successes and failures, with a view to answering the important questions of what motivates Christian conservatives, and why their influence endures, despite its fundamental flaws in significantly changing U.S. culture. This study also offers a unique perspective of Christian conservatism by placing considerable emphasis on the theological convictions of its leaders, which overwhelmingly feed into their political agenda. The case study of Thomas Road Baptist Church is an integral component of this, in providing an understanding of Christian conservatism direct from many of the movement's key leaders, as delivered in sermons throughout 2006. However, all four of this study's chapters seek to articulate the essence of Christian conservatism as defined by its own leaders and spokespeople, working together in synthesis with other authors and commentators on the subject across nearly 30 years.

Keywords: religion,United States,abortion,Israel,conservative
Subject: American Studies thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2011
School: School of International Studies
Supervisor: Dr. David Palmer