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Christian Right & Modernity: America’s Christian Right Opposed to Modernity

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Christian Right is Characterized By What It’s Against:


America’s Christian Right is often characterized as a reactionary movement because it is reacting to modern developments and seeks to restore older, traditional social structures. Although the Christian Right has much to say about religion and morality, a lot of its social and political program can be explained by reference to what they are against rather than what they are in favor of. Unfortunately, most of what they are against has become fundamental to the modern way of life.

The Christian Right is Anti-Science:


The Christian Right displays a consistent and almost unwavering opposition to modern science. The most obvious example of this is their opposition to modern biology and evolution. Despite how well supported and verified evolution is, the Christian Right will continue to oppose it because it contradicts their religious ideology. More than anything, this reveals their preference for ideology over facts, reality, and reason.

The Christian Right is Anti-Secularism:


A common target of Christian Right attacks is secularism: the idea that public institutions should be free from control or domination by religious institutions, interests, or doctrines. Secular institutions are thus open equally to adherents of all faiths; for the Christian Right, however, secularism means an absence of moral values, undermining the institution’s mission. They believe that an only institutions founded on religious values — preferably their own — can do any good in society.

The Christian Right is Anti-Feminism:


A significant development for the modern world has been the growing equality of women. Feminism, a political, social, and philosophical agenda for achieving equality, is opposed by the Christian Right. Traditional religion accords both men and women limited and restricted social roles based upon their gender. The fact that men’s roles are more powerful and public is something women are supposed to simply deal with because that’s God’s will.

The Christian Right is Anti-Liberty:


Greater restrictions on individual liberties is a hallmark of Christian Right political proposals. Whatever the subject area — sexuality, drugs, you name it — it would be highly unusual to find the Christian Right backing any sort of expansion on what people are free to do. Curiously, this does not translate into support for greater restrictions on what companies and corporations are permitted to do.

The Christian Right is Anti-Pluralism:


A significant amount of the Christian Right’s agenda and activity can be explained as an outgrowth of their opposition to pluralism. Modernity is very pluralistic in terms of values, religions, politics, gender roles, and so forth. The Christian Right looks back to a time when they imagine society was more unified and homogenous, thinking that society was stronger and better then. Diversity is not a strength for the Christian Right, it is a weakness that distracts people from following God.

The Christian Right is Anti-Sex:


In general, the Christian Right’s position on sex is that it exists primarily for procreation and should only occur within marriage. This has effectively led the Christian Right to defend policies which appear to have no other purpose than to punish extramarital sex. Even the Christian Right’s opposition to abortion appears to have more to do with punishing sex than with preserving life. If anything, the Christian Right has been growing more reactionary on issues involving sex and sexuality.

The Christian Right is Anti-Enlightenment:


The European Enlightenment represented a significant step forward in terms of politics, philosophy, and religion. The Enlightenment pressed the idea that people should use reason rather than faith and tradition when making decisions. The Enlightenment is the source of our modern political philosophy and institutions; it’s also a source of most everything the Christian Right opposes because it denies the inherent and necessary authority of traditional religious practices or institutions.

The Christian Right is Anti-Democratic:


The Christian Right supports majoritarian votes when it appears that the votes will go their way — for example, supporting votes on school prayers or on what religion would be endorsed by the state. The Christian Right often opposes, however, principles of equality and neutrality which democracy requires — for example, giving equal time to non-Christians and not treating Christianity as if it were a favored religion and political ideology.

America’s Christian Right as a Reaction to Modernity:


Conservatives defend earlier expressions of Enlightenment principles — the extension of some liberties to some groups, but not all the same liberties on an equal basis to all groups. Conservatives are, by definition, seeking to “conserve” traditional institutions, power structures and ways of doing things. The problem in America isn’t conservatism, though, because conservatives recognize that progress happens — they just want to keep it from happening so fast that mistakes are made.

The real problem is the far right, especially the Christian Right, because they aren’t merely trying to keep progress from happening too fast. Instead, they are trying to stop progress altogether and roll things back to an earlier stage of social and political development. They would undermine the achievements we have already made in civil liberties because they cannot accept the use of reason over religious tradition and dogma in social government.

America’s Christian Right is frequently described as reactionary because of how they seek to turn the clock back on American culture and politics — they are ‘reacting’ to changes in modernity. In many ways, though, they are more revolutionary than reactionary because they are trying to create a new type of society which has never existed before.

One of the hallmarks of modernity has been the rooting out of various forms of illegitimate privilege, with Christian and religious privilege being among the last. Thus, it is hoped that reasserting special privileges and deference for Christianity and Christians will help hold the line against modernity. If you pay close attention, you will find that just about all of the complaints of the Christian Right involve a loss of privilege, and everything in their agenda involves a reinstatement of privileges. These privileges are inconsistent with modernity on every level and are a sign of just what aspects of modernity the Christian Right objects to.

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