Howard Phillips, the...founding father of the religious right, has died.
As the story goes Phillips, Paul Weyrich, and Richard Viguerie got together in the late 1970s using Viguerie’s groundbreaking direct mail company to help Jerry Falwell build the Moral Majority and Paul and Judy Brown build the American Life League.* While Weyrich, Vigerie and the Browns were Catholic, Falwell was a Baptist, and Phillips was an evangelical convert from Judaism with great affection for RJ Rushdoony and Christian Reconstructionist leanings.
It’s hard to overstate Phillips’ influence in the transformation of the more secular mid-century conservatism of Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley into today’s religiously-inflected conservatism.
Read Julie Ingersoll's excellent article at www.religiondispatches.org.
Photo: Howard Phillips, President Ronald Reagan, Rev. Jerry Falwell.
*Of this meeting, Richard Viguerie--today a Tea Party movement leader--writes:
For about nine years in the mid 1970’s, a small group (8-10) of national conservative leaders who became known as the “New Right” began meeting for breakfast at my home near Washington to plan and implement conservative strategy. And, for a period of time, we would reconvene at my home for dinner with the same breakfast group, but now with some New Right young congressmen.
If there ever was something resembling Hillary Clinton’s vast right wing conspiracy, this was it.
Besides Howie and me, the group included Paul Weyrich, Ed Feulner, Morton Blackwell, Terry Dolan, Ron Godwin, Congressmen Newt Gingrich, Vin Weber, Bob Walker, Hal Daub, Bill Dannemeyer, and others.
At those Wednesday meetings, and many hundreds of other meetings, Howard and the other New Right leaders began to develop and implement the strategies to put conservatives on a path of aggressive opposition to big-government politicians that is today best embodied by Tea Party constitutional conservatives.