The Real Origins of the Religious Right: Segregation

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The Real Origins of the Religious Right: Segregation

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Pretty weak

Surprised by the weakness of his argument. I don't recall anybody at the time that viewed abortion as the central issue of the religious right (and do recall criticism of the weak position of the Moral Majority on abortion). More importantly, his argument that segregation was the cause for the rise appears sound, but isn't convincing on the evidence he provides. In fact, his quote of Falwell undercuts his point--Falwell's complaint was about government intrusion and control, not about integration. IOW, based on the evidence he provides, it seems more plausible to argue that the segregation issue opened the eyes of religious organizations to how the government intended to exert its control over them, so they organized to push back against government control.

Surprisingly, the author also misstates the facts about the Reagan administration and the BJU court case. The Reagan administration did drop the case and even argued on their side at the hearing. The comment about Rehnquist being made Chief Justice after the decision is another weak spot since it seems to suggest some connection between the two. And while I'm at it, doesn't it seem odd to tie this to the BJU case when BJU was one of the most vocal opponents of the Religious Right's rise in the 70s and 80s?

Ballmer has a track record of going after the religious right. This seems, at least to me, to simply be another effort in that fight.

DMD

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Also,

Abortion and segregation weren't the only issues. There were other government overreach that spurred people on. For example, the author failed to mention that there was an aggressive attempt to outlaw Christian and Home Schooling whether segregated or not. There was also a acceleration of public moral decay during the 70's that concerned the religious community.

The author also does not know his Southern Baptist history. I don't know if I would call the overseers of the SBC in 1971 part of the religious right.

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Many Questionable Statements

Not to mention that the author says the founder of BJU was Bob Jones, Jr.   Anyone who actually did his research should know it was Bob Jones, Sr.  However, let us also be honest to say that BJU was wrong about segregation.  Attempts to use Scripture to support segregation are misinterpretations and misapplications.  It is unfortunate that BJU so strongly supported segregation for many years.  Even many of their supporters were embarrassed by this misuse of Scripture.

G. N. Barkman

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G. N. Barkman wrote:

G. N. Barkman wrote:

Not to mention that the author says the founder of BJU was Bob Jones, Jr.   Anyone who actually did his research should know it was Bob Jones, Sr.  However, let us also be honest to say that BJU was wrong about segregation.  Attempts to use Scripture to support segregation are misinterpretations and misapplications.  It is unfortunate that BJU so strongly supported segregation for many years.  Even many of their supporters were embarrassed by this misuse of Scripture.

 

But let us also remember that there were considerable number of conservative fundamentalist in the south that supported segregation for many years.

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Many Others Also Supported Segregation

This statement is true, but fails to acknowledge the misuse of Scripture that widely supported segregation.  Being one among many others who are misusing Scripture is a poor reason to justify error.  Fundamentalists assert that they are Bible believers.  They encourage people to believe that they stand for Biblical truth when others compromise.  That's why its so important to get it right.  When we defend error by declaring we are contending for truth, truth suffers, and we lose a lot of credibility in the eyes of those who know what the Bible actually teaches.

G. N. Barkman

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The author probably

The author probably overstates things and I am sure there are plenty of things that can be picked apart. But the uneasy truth is he is not that far off. Anyone that lived in the south through that period knows that the conservative right has been at the back of the train in the areas of racial equality. Not as far back as the Klu Klux Klan but most definitely toward the back. I live in the south, and very frankly, I still hear things that make me wince from conservative Christians.

So rather than to try to pick this article apart, in my opinion, a better option would be just acknowledge the truth that is there and learn from it. Or to put it another way, who cares if the author is wrong about who the founder of BJU was? Even if he got that detail wrong, he is not wrong on BJU's checkered past of racial problems. That is not to say we should throw BJU under the bus. But it should at least help us understand a reason why much of the world considers conservative Christians hypocritical and maybe give us some clues on how to fix that.

By the way, I know that BJU apologized for the interracial dating rules. But have they ever apologized for their admissions policies on African-Americans that this author speaks of?

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Greg, Yes they did. 

Greg,

Yes they did. 

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

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My recollection from the 1980 election

It was about abortion. I don't remember segregation having anything to do with Moral Majority. I was 31 at the time and it's fairly clear to me 

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GregH wrote:

GregH wrote:

By the way, I know that BJU apologized for the interracial dating rules. But have they ever apologized for their admissions policies on African-Americans that this author speaks of?

FWIW, from the BJU website: "On national television in March 2000, Bob Jones III, who was the university’s president until 2005, stated that BJU was wrong in not admitting African-American students before 1971, which sadly was a common practice of both public and private universities in the years prior to that time." - http://www.bju.edu/about/what-we-believe/race-statement.php

 

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Balmer has written on this before

This is far from the first time that Balmer has argued in writing for the BJU case and Christian-sponsored segregation being the seed of the Religious Right. I wonder what's brought his argument out of the woodwork again.

M. Scott Bashoor Happy Slave of Christ

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Book promo

He has a new book out.

I disagree with the idea that we should ignore the wrong arguments and errors of an author if somehow his assertion bears some semblance to the truth. Was segregation wrong? Absolutely. That is not the point of his article, though. He is trying to poison the well regarding the "religious right" so that their conservative views are discredited. 

DMD

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who are the "real sly dogs?"

Often the liberals are characterized as "slick." In reality they have nothing on the political neo-cons. 

The author is spot on in his assessment and has the evidence which is very clear. I am sure there is much, much more evidence too.

I am not very political (nor do I have an ax to grind) and do not see Paul as advocating these carnal devices (political maneuvering by the religious right).

It is interesting to note how the Mormons view African Americans and the recent tie-ups between The Religious Right and Mormon institutions and individuals.

I would contend this (racial hatred) is the real underlying reason for a lot of neo-con and religious right political action (that and preserving economic hegemony). Though even among the elite insiders it is never openly articulated lest they be skewered, it is more acknowledged with a nod and wink.

 

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Then again...
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I live in the south, and very

I live in the south, and very frankly, I still hear things that make me wince from conservative Christians.

I live in the north and I hear things that make me wince from all over the spectrum. Southern, conservative Christians have no corner on that market.

And the reason it matters is because truth matters. We are not pragmatists (or at least we shouldn't be). That means it is not okay to be wrong so long as the outcome or intent is admirable or noble. Furthermore, if you are wrong about something so simple, how you can be trusted on other stuff? It is not just integrity that is at stake; it is credibility.

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My point again is this: it is

My point again is this: it is typical that when attacked, people start probing for weaknesses, picking apart every word and over analyzing. Basically the goal is to say that because the author is wrong on some little details, his entire argument is discredited and we can all feel good about ourselves. Just hide our heads in the sand. That is what it seems is going on here to some degree. I do not have any doubt that the author is very close to the truth on this regardless of errors. So my point is what good comes from finding every inconsistency in that article? Why not just ask if he is right in his big premise and learn from it? For example, the fact that he has the wrong suffix after the BJ that started BJU does not make his premise invalid.

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Basic argumentation

My beef with the article, stated way up front, was that he did not make his case and, in fact, even presented his evidence in a way that tilts away from his assertion. I mentioned the other matters as evidence of my own implied assertion that the writer is biased and intent on discrediting, not merely presenting history.

I concede that there are times when an important point is shouted down over incidentals, but this is not one of them. His point was not that segregation was a problem among conservatives (a point with which I agree). He was writing about the rise of the religious right, and he failed to demonstrate that the origin of the religious right was in segregation. He committed logical and factual errors in order to create the impression that he was right and to demonize a group with which he disagrees. 

DMD