We gather Together : Catholics, Mormons, Southern Baptists and the Question of Interfaith Politics, 1972--1984
New York, New York
Ph. D. diss.
My dissertation examines the political activism of the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church and the Southern Baptist Convention from 1972 to 1984. These three major religious institutions were the most important political actors of the emerging Religious Right coalition, a key component of the larger New Right coalition. Concerned over perceived issues to the threat of the traditional family, notably the Equal Rights Amendment and abortion rights, these three religious faiths entered the national political process during the 1970s and urged their members to become active political participants on behalf of a conservative agenda. My dissertation also examines the rise of conservative religious organizations, those created both by religious institutions and by citizens, which mobilized millions of Americans to oppose the ERA and abortion rights. I argue that the rise of the Religious Right did not signal the erasure of the historical tensions and theological disagreements among the members of these three faiths, but rather reflected those very divisions. By examining the theologies of the three faiths and the membership demographics of the conservative religious organizations, I show how the success of the Religious Right coalition depended on various degrees of maneuvering around rather than directly confronting the persistent divisions among the faithful. While these organizations achieved mixed results, the Republican Party profited greatly from their activism that helped elect Ronald Reagan into the presidency and provided a critical base to the ascending conservative movement. [Author's Abstract]