For anyone who knows the history of the religious right, the possible revocation of tax-exempt status for claimed religious belief is a potent flashpoint. In his book, Thy Kingdom Come: An Evangelical's Lament, religion historian Randall Balmer argues that contrary to conventional wisdom, which Balmar calls the "abortion myth", evangelical voters were not propelled to political activism by the supreme court's 1973 decision in Roe v Wade.
Instead, the issue that mobilized these voters was the IRS's 1975 revocation of the tax-exempt status of the segregationist Bob Jones University. Rightwing religious architect Paul Weyrich told Balmer that it was "the federal government's moves against Christian schools" that actually "enraged the Christian community".
Bob Jones University claimed its ban on interracial dating and admission of students in interracial marriages was rooted in the Bible. It did not end its ban on interracial dating until 2000. The IRS's decision – which went through protracted litigation that ultimately ended when the supreme court let the revocation stand – was in response to new IRS regulations and a 1972 Supreme Court case holding that educational institutions with racially discriminatory policies were not entitled to tax exemption.
"The Religious Right arose as a political movement for the purpose, effectively, of defending racial discrimination at Bob Jones University and at other segregated schools."