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William O

Jerry Falwell and the Rise of the Religious Right

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As most posters on this forum know, Leonard Peikoff recently published The DIM Hypothesis, in which he makes the prediction that the United States will be taken over by fundamentalist Christians and turned into a totalitarian theocracy. He regards this prediction as "so highly probable as to border on certainty" (p. 341). This might lead an Objectivist student of history to wonder how fundamentalist Christians acquired such influence in the United States, what beliefs and values they promote, and what motivated them to become politically active. 


A good introduction to these issues is Jerry Falwell and the Rise of the Religious Right: A Brief History with Documents by Matthew Avery Sutton. The book is around 150 pages long, and intended to be "a reasonable one-week assignment in a college course" (from the foreword).


The book consists of two parts, a 25 page introduction by the editor outlining the rise of the Religious Right, and a second section consisting of 115 pages of historical documents, including speeches and book excerpts, that were influential in the rise of fundamentalist Christianity. Almost every entry in this book was heard or read by thousands or millions of fundamentalist Christians.


The excerpts tend to corroborate Peikoff's claim that fundamentalist Christians perceive America as being in a moral crisis that requires political action on their part. One of the book's virtues is that it explains these concerns in detail in the fundamentalists' own words and provides examples of the actions that fundamentalists took to combat them during the 60s and 70s, like setting up private fundamentalist schools where Bible reading and prayer were guaranteed to be legal (p. 80) and sharing their concerns with President Carter in person (p. 129).


So, if you have an interest in how the Religious Right historically became as powerful as it currently is, I think you will find this book a helpful introduction to the issue.



Edited by William O

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