“When Mark Twain was in London, a rumor of his death or imminent death reached the editor of the New York Journal, who sent its London correspondent the following cablegrams: ‘IF MARK TWAIN [IS] DYING IN POVERTY IN LONDON SEND 500 WORDS’ and ‘IF MARK TWAIN HAS DIED IN POVERTY SEND 1000 WORDS.’ The Journal’s man showed the cable to Mark Twain, who suggested the substance of a reply to the effect that a cousin, James Ross Clemens1, had been seriously ill in London, but had recovered. [Twain’s] reply ended with ‘[THE] REPORT OF MY DEATH [IS] GREATLY EXAGGERATED.’”2
In going through some old files, I came across an article that was written on December 15, 1989 that carried this title: “Whatever Happened to the Religious Right?” An article with a similar title – “The End of the Christian Right” – was written by Michael Kazin, professor of history at Georgetown University, and published at The New Republic on January 17, 2012.
People have been predicting the demise of the Christian Right for nearly 25 years, ever since the late Jerry Falwell shut down the Moral Majority in 1989.
Kazin argues that the “Christian Right is fighting a losing battle” on the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage. He’s wrong on abortion but right on homosexuality.
There is now a stigma attached to abortion. There has been a steady decline in the number of facilities doing abortions and fewer doctors who are being trained to perform abortions. Here are six factors contributing to the Decline in the number of abortion providers:
• Antiabortion harassment and violence
• Social stigma/marginalization
• Professional isolation/peer pressure
• The “graying of providers”
• Inadequate economic/other incentives
• Lack of medical training opportunities
Blacks and Hispanics – large Democrat voting constituencies – are overrepresented in the number of abortions performed in the United States. This is rarely talked about in Democrat circles, even among so-called black leaders.
“In 1991, there were over 2,176 surgical abortion clinics in America. Today there are 663. Nearly 70% of all surgical abortion clinics have closed for good and that trend is continuing nationally,” said Todd Newman, President of Pro-Life Nation.
Homosexual marriage is a different story. When put up for a vote, it loses, even in a liberal state like California. The entertainment industry, the educational establishment, and activist judges are driving the homosexual agenda. Homosexuals make up no more than two percent of the population. People are afraid to speak out on the subject because they don’t want to be called “haters.” Homosexual activists are organized and will bully and intimidate anyone who opposes them. A frank and open discussion of homosexuality – not “gay” rights – quickly coverts people to the non-homosexual position.
If you look at the top three reasons for the decline in abortion providers, you’ll see that homosexual activists have used these same tactics against anti-homosexual activists.
Kazin goes on to say that the Christian Right has declined in influence in two ways: “the absence of effective, well known leaders” and a lack of enthusiasm for the movement among the younger generation.
It’s true, there are few well known Christian Right leaders. That’s a good thing. Christian conservatives, unlike liberals, aren’t easily led around by the nose. We think for ourselves. In the early 1980s, leaders were necessary because the Christian Right was a new phenomenon. Conservative Christians make up tens of millions of voters. That was not the case in the mid-1970s. There was no discernable “Evangelical vote.” As far back as 1989, social scientists observed that a more mature strategy had emerged by focusing on the state and local levels.
Since there are no longer any national Christian leaders like Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, or D. James Kennedy, there are no centralized targets. The Religious Right is decentralized. It’s a moving target spread out all across the United States in too many organizations to name here that did not exist 20 years ago.
Legal organizations like the Christian Legal Society (1961), Rutherford Institute (1982), Liberty Counsel (1989), American Center for Law and Justice (1990), Alliance Defense Fund (1994), and the Thomas More Law Center (1999) are having a big impact in the courts and taking on the very liberal and anti-Christian ACLU. You can see that five of these legal advocacy groups are of recent origin. Three of them began after the Moral Majority shut down.
The Liberal Left has noticed that there is an undercurrent of Christian activist thinking that they identify as “dominionism.” There is no single organization or group of individuals pushing “dominionism.” What we’re seeing is the permeation of Christian principles being adopted by cultural osmosis.
What’s happening to the Christian Right is not the typical top-down system that Liberals envy. Christians are reshaping their world by the building up of the family, entrepreneurship, self-publishing, homeschooling, creating curricula, and film making.
Keep in mind that the Left is minimizing its footprint. They’re having fewer children. Their institutions are crumbling. The university is no longer seen as the gateway to success. They no longer control the media. Hollywood is still liberal, but it’s losing its impact. The latest SOPA fight is a perfect example. “They fought the law and the law didn’t win.” Box office receipts are also down.
If present trends continue, there will be a power shift away from political centralization. That’s what’s driving the liberal establishment to grab as much power as it can right now. They know their time is short.
- Twain’s real name was Samuel Clemens [↩]
- Quoted in Clifton Fadiman, gen. ed., The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes (Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 1985), 555. [↩]