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Towards a political-cultural explanation of the "Christian Right": Bellevue Baptist Church and the republicanisation of American evangelicalism

Connell, Laurence Sean (2016) Towards a political-cultural explanation of the "Christian Right": Bellevue Baptist Church and the republicanisation of American evangelicalism. Advisor: Williams, Dr. Daniel K.. Coadvisor: Masala, Dr. Antonio . pp. 153. [IMT PhD Thesis]

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Abstract

Even since the pivotal 1980 United States presidential election, historians and political scientists have attempted to understand the rise of the so-called ‘Christian Right’, as well as the political loyalty of white evangelicals towards the Republican Party. What explains evangelicals’ long-term abandonment of the Democratic Party in favour of the GOP? This thesis reinterprets the rise of the Christian Right by examining the features of contemporary evangelical history from a congregational perspective. Through the case study of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee – one of the largest and most well-known evangelical congregations in the country – the thesis situates evangelicals’ post-war political realignment in the local context. It is argued that from the beginning of the 1980s a new form of political culture had started to exist at Bellevue which mirrored that of Republican Party and Christian Right conservatism; this, when extended to similar evangelical congregations elsewhere in the South of the country, helps explain the unprecedented political and electoral loyalty towards the GOP that conservative evangelicals had started to display during the Regan presidency and beyond. However, rather than being a symptom of direct political mobilisation or partisan endorsement from the pulpit – as conventional explanations often assume – it is demonstrated that Bellevue’s Republican-friendly political culture actually emerged indirectly, through a combination of the church’s theology and its connections with urban change in Memphis during desegregation.

Item Type: IMT PhD Thesis
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
PhD Course: Political History
Identification Number: 10.6092/imtlucca/e-theses/205
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2017 12:11
URI: http://e-theses.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/205

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