(see also, "Religious Right")
A broad and varied political movement of Christian social conservatives principly in the United States of America. The movement arose in the 1970's as members of the Republican "New Right" (many of whom were conservative Christians) looked to foster an influx of conservative Christians into the Republican Party at a time when feminism, the civil rights movement for gay Americans, and federal protection of abortion access (see Wikipedia "Roe v. Wade") stirred numerous conservative Christian leaders, many of whom were Christian Fundamentalists, to organize Christians to seek to influence American society and law through electoral politics. The Christian Right has grown to include millions of Americans and myriad organizations, institutions, media enterprises, leaders, elected officials, and special projects.
The Christian Right transcends denominational lines (see Wikipedia "List of Christian denominations"), but most of its members ascribe to Christian fundamentalism, Pentecostalism, or, more broadly, conservative evangelicalism, each of which also transcends denominational lines. Though it has been influenced by numerous conservative Protestant theological movements--such as Dispensationalism and Dominionism-- not all members of the Christian Right ascribe to them equally or at all. The Christian Right includes conservative movements within Roman Catholicism, such as the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
The vast majority of members of the Christian Right insist that the United States was founded as a Christian nation (see AU.org "Is America a 'Christian Nation?'"), therefore they see their efforts as a Christian reclamation of American society.
usage. Also, "Christian right"
see "Human Rights, Dignity, and Spiritual Belief" by Chip Berlet, "basic human rights are being trampled by the policies promoted by the Christian Right in the United States."
(some examples of the Christian Right's use of cultural and institutional means to influence the political climate of the U.S. are cited by journalist and writer Michelle Goldberg here)
excerpts from an historical analysis by William Martin Chavanne speaking at the 1997 Annual Forum of The Center for Progressive Christianity: (full transcript)
"Before this current movement, there was an old Christian Right. [Its leaders were] primarily interested in being anti-Communist.
. . . . .
"[T]he New Right arose [within the Republican Party] in the mid-1960's and early 1970's and continues to be quite important. . . . In 1973 with aid from money from [brewery magnet] Joseph Coors, [Paul] Weyrich helped establish the Heritage Foundation, which is the major philosophical and ideological organization behind the new Right. . . . The Religious Right was mobilized by the New Right. Beginning in 1976, Weyrich, [Howard] Phillips and Morton Blackwell . . . launched a concentrated effort to involve conservative churches in their cause.
. . . . .
"The religious right is largely a reactive movement. It has come out of a background of non-involvement, based on theological belief and general preference to win souls, not elections. [However, o]ver the last forty years a series of catalyzing events and developments--the Supreme Court decisions prohibiting school-sponsored prayer and Bible reading, the widespread introduction of sex education in public schools, feminism, abortion, gay rights[--] . . . either generated a direct response or served as a continuing target for response from people for whom these developments were quite offensive and threatening."
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, in a November 3, 2005 speech:
"Make no mistake: We are facing an emerging Christian right leadership that intends to 'Christianize' all aspects of American life, from the halls of government to the libraries, to the movies, to recording studios, to the playing fields and local rooms of professional collegiate and amateur sport, from the military to SpongeBob SquarePants."
from "Human Rights, Dignity, and Spiritual Belief" by Chip Berlet:
"[For many Americans who are challenging the Christian Right,] the issue is not secular belief versus spiritual faith; the issue is how to craft a pluralist civil society that honors the dignity of both secular philosophy and spiritual faith, while insisting that theological claims alone should never dictate public policies. That's why we say we are challenging theocracy; because that's what the Christian Right is increasingly sowing: a theocratic society."
(see the chart of sectors of the U.S. right, including the Religious Right, here)