Cover

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Front Matter

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Contents

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

I am deeply indebted to several people who had a direct hand in shaping this project. The most important is without a doubt Marty Medhurst, who helped guide this project from an idea to a finished product. Many know Marty for the world-class scholar that he is, but I am among the fortunate few who have had the privilege...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-9

On July 17, 1980, the audience inside Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, along with much of the rest of the country watching on television, saw Ronald Reagan, as though moved by the Holy Spirit, invoke a supposedly unscripted moment of silent prayer to end his party nomination acceptance speech. “I have thought of something...

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1. Religion and American Conservatism: A Rhetorical History, 1944–1979

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pp. 11-64

This chapter asks a simple but important question: in what ways was the conservative political movement in America also a religious movement prior to the 1980 presidential election? I ask this question in an attempt to determine whether the broader development of post-1980 religious politics was simply the result of conservatives establishing hegemony in the Republican Party, thereby establishing...

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2. American Change and Religious Engagement, 1942-1976

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pp. 65-94

In a 1965 sermon called “Ministers and Marchers,” a young Rev. Jerry Falwell criticized liberal ministers because of their involvement in the political process, which took away from what he saw as a minister’s primary responsibility to preach the gospel. By 1979, Falwell would seemingly do an aboutface on this position, utilizing his stature as a popular television preacher to mobilize, alongside...

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3. Raising the Rhetoric of Righteousness: The Pivotal 1976 Election

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pp. 95-133

Appeals to personal religious piety entered the modern presidential campaign vernacular in 1976, when Jimmy Carter squared off against President Gerald Ford. Carter’s deep religiosity and his status as the first presidential candidate to claim having been born-again are well known, but it is lesser known that he was not alone in...

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4. Two Roads Diverged: Religious Conservatives and the Carter Disappointment

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pp. 135-164

Carter won in 1976 by fashioning an unusual coalition; attempting to hold it together proved to be among his most difficult tasks as president. Among the diverse groups he brought into the fold were progressive liberals, African Americans, moderate Southerners, as well as, to a slightly lesser degree, a newly involved group of religious conservatives who were increasingly willing to adopt a sustained...

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5. The Birth of a New Religious Politicsin 1980

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pp. 165-236

Having formed during a presidential administration that proved not only disappointing but unreceptive, the New Religious Right (NRR) stood at its greatest crossroads leading up to the 1980 election, positioned and motivated to have its ambitious goals realized by affecting government, for the first time, through presidential elections. Its goals, broadcast emphatically, were to create a society that...

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6. The Legacy of 1980 at the Dawn of a New Era: Lessons for Religion and Politics Going Forward

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pp. 237-266

The 1980 presidential election cast a long shadow over the last three decades because, since that time, religion has remained a pronounced and prominent aspect of presidential politics. In fact, the types of religious politics that Reagan and Carter created lived on, helping to shape an era of American politics. While office seekers since 1980 have doubtless introduced a few new uses of religion,...

Notes

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pp. 267-303

Bibliography

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pp. 305-323

Index

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pp. 325-333