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The Christian right (known as the religious right in the United States) is the name for right-wing Christian political and social movements. Though they exist in other countries, such as Canada, it is most commonly used to talk about the United States. These groups are characterized by their strong support of conservative social and political values. Usually, this comes from a belief that the United States was founded on a strong belief in God, and that American laws and policies should be based on what is in the Bible. Though members of the Christian right can be from any branch of Christianity, including Catholicism, the religious right is most often used with Evangelical Christians, Fundamentalists (such as Born-agains) and Mormons. About 15% of Americans say they are part of the Christian or religious right.
People who have been conservative due to their religion have been in the United States for hundreds of years. For example, the people who put John Scopes on trial would be called as members of the religious right. However, the term first came into use in the 1970s by Jerry Falwell. He and others felt that the country and its institutions (such as schools and colleges) were run by left-wing intellectuals who did not believe in God, and that in reality most people believed in God and did not care for left-wing intellectuals. The fight between left-wing intellectuals and the religious right is often called the "culture wars".
Though Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush were elected in part due to support from the religious right, the only President who was a member of the religious right was George W. Bush.[source?]
In addition to the Christian right, there is something known as the Christian left, but it is not as well-known or powerful.
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Here are some issues that the Christian right feel strongly about:
The Christian right largely came back into being in the 1970s under Falwell due to abortion, in response to the Roe v. Wade decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court. Most members of the Christian right feel that life begins at conception, killing a fetus is murder, and therefore abortion should be illegal in most or all cases. This is called being "pro-life". Though the right has not been able to get rid of Roe (and it is now considered to be a precedent by most judges), they have been successful in making it harder to get abortions in some states.
Many members of the Christian right believe that the Bible says it is bad to be homosexual (gay or lesbian). They used to support sodomy laws. Today, they are mostly against allowing gay marriage. They have gotten many laws and initiatives passed to stop gays from marrying (such as California's Proposition 8), but some of these have been found to be unconstitutional in the courts. To make stopping gay marriage constitutional, many have pushed for an amendment to the United States constitution to ban gay marriage.
Many members of the Christian right do not believe in evolution, because it goes against the creation story of the Bible. They instead favor creationism or intelligent design. Most biologists believe that evolution is true and that arguments against evolution are weak. In a few places, they have been successful in teaching intelligent design alongside evolution in public schools.
Prayer in schools [change]
Many members of the Christian right want to allow prayer in public schools and display of things related to Christ in public or government places. As with gay marriage, this has been questioned in the courts, usually due to the freedom of religion clause in the First Amendment.
- Dennis R. Hoover, "A Religious Right Arrives in Canada", Religion in the News, Summer 2000, Vol. 3, No. 2,