17 May '16    home | previous

Recent Origins of Evangelicals in Politics

Samantha Bee, comedian and host of Full Frontal on TBS, yesterday (May 16) described the history of evangelicals becoming what is now called the religious right. The episode is titled "The Religious Right." Today, Rawstory describes it as a classic.

Samantha wasn't attacking evangelical theology. She was describing the move from being non-political to becoming involved in politics when segregating schools was an issue – white kids going to schools with black kids. There was a call from evangelicals opposed to school integration to get involved in politics. Looking for another issue to lure the faithful into politics they added abortion to their list of what they were against. And homosexuality was added to their list of evils. A clip was shown of the Reverend Jerry Falwell, founder of Liberty University, calling on getting people baptized and getting them registered to vote.

Samantha showed a clip of the televangelist James Robison in 1980 shouting:

I'm sick and tired of hearing about all of the radicals, and the perverts, and the liberals, and the leftists, and the Communists coming out of the closet! It's time for God's people to come out of the closet, out of the churches, and change America! We must do it!

Among those in Robison's audience, nodding and applauding, was Ronald Reagan – not yet president. (Reagan, I understand, was fervently anti-Communist and not much of an integrationist, but not hostile to blacks or gays. The clip shows him moved by Robison's thunderous rhetoric, indicating an aspect of his religiosity.)

Someone identified as Tsukinofaerii PsiCop comments to Rawstory about the anti-tax connection made by Samantha:

If I recall correctly federal funds and taxes were one of the hinges that the school desegregation movement swung on. After Brown, white people started moving their children to private schools to get around the desegregation rulings. Those private schools were automatically given tax exempt status. That went on until the mid-seventies. Then the IRS started refusing to grant (and outright revoking!) the tax exemptions to all-white private schools.

Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.