Presented by Dr. Andrew Lewis
Date: November 10, 2017
Location: 801 W. Michigan Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
Room: BS 2005
The 2016 election, and the Republican primary that preceded it, while contentious and important for understanding religion and politics, does not stand alone in defining the relationship between conservative Christianity and politics in America. Instead, it is helpful to understand the broader cultural trends and how the dynamics of the 2016 election fit within these trends. Of particular importance is the role of rights, as this has been central to both the religious politics of the right and the left in the past two years. Thirty years ago, conservative Christianity’s political message was to reclaim “Christian America,” placing its hope in a moral majority. To many, conservative Christianity stood as a last vestige of the communitarian defense against liberalism, sparking the traditional “culture wars.” In the decades since, these culture wars had been refashioned, with the right now championing individual rights—the weapons of the left—to protect their interests and increasing minority status. Political rights on both the right now compete for attention. I suggest that conservative rights politics have strong roots in the politics of abortion, and they are increasingly raised as the right to free speech and religious freedom. Importantly, conservative Christians even extended these rights commitments (and political tolerance) to outgroups, seeking to simultaneously bolster protection for themselves. Did the 2016 election signify a change in this growing commitment to liberal pluralism? I consider the evidence from five decades of advocacy activity and survey data.
Andrew R. Lewis is an Assistant Professor at University of Cincinnati. His research interests are at the intersection of law and politics in America. His areas of expertise are conservative politics and religion and politics, with a focus on evangelical political engagement.
The presentation is based on his book: The Rights Turn in Conservative Christian Politics: How Abortion Transformed the Culture Wars (Cambridge, 2017): https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/rights-turn-in-conservative-christian-politics/DE0EC83FEB5166F5E1C3FE91CE0D460A