Politics and religion have long been linked; from 380AD when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, to the founding of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948, to Islamist political groups. In Britain 26 Church of England bishops sit in the House of Lords and play a role in policy making, which is just one of the ways that politics and religion interact in this country.
Religious belief and scripture has always been used to support or counteract political movements, both conservative (right-wing) and liberal (left-wing), and many that fall within these two categories. Recently, conservative Christians have been politically active across the world, in particular in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. However, here we will focus on the Christian Right, or Religious Right, in the US. This is an important case study to examine the ways theology, and religious communities, affect public life the in the contemporary Western world.
• To understand the movement known as the Christian Right in the US, its main groups, issues and defining characteristics.
• To understand some of the difficulty in discussing such a large movement accurately
• To examine some of the recent developments in political Christianity in the US context.
Political Christianity can be viewed as a social phenomenon, and an example of how religious groups can affect public life. However, it is also important to highlight the theological motivation behind particular political beliefs, which often comes down to scriptural interpretation. Many in the increasingly secular West might diminish the influence scripture has on people’s political beliefs, even though there are still large groups of people who base their political beliefs and allegiances on scriptural interpretation. As the rise of the Christian Right has shown, theological motivation is not something to be brushed aside lightly, but can change the political conversation of a country for decades.