In a recent essay for The New Republic, religion reporter Sarah Posner contends that the Religious Right has “effectively become a subsidiary of the alt-right, yoked to Trump’s white nationalist agenda.” By effectively wedding themselves to Trump’s narrative about ‘American carnage,’ she goes on, evangelicals have “returned the religious right to its own origins—as a movement founded to maintain the South’s segregationist ‘way of life.’”

That is a provocative thesis, which—if true—would put the final blow into the already hollowed corpse of one of the most criticized political movements in American public life. One would expect that as excellent a reporter as Posner would have some substantive evidence, some smoking gun from life inside some of the central Religious Right institutions. But she does not. It is a thesis without evidence—but one that Posner really seems to want to be true.1

After all, this is at least her second iteration of her argument—and it is no stronger than her first go. Last October, Posner profiled Richard Spencer, who has successfully wormed his way into becoming the It Boy for white nationalism. Spencer, Posner records, considers the Religious Right as a front for the alt-right’s nationalist, racist aspirations. Posner writes:

While Spencer reviles conservatives, he believes they secretly share his white nationalist beliefs. “Saying that you want a culture of life, or Christian values,” he said in a recent podcast, “that’s just basically saying you want to live in a white country that’s normal and decent.” Or, as he explains to me at the Willard, the Family Research Council’s name already implies a call for “more white children.” In Spencer’s eyes, the Alt-Right is an “intellectual movement” so powerful that “in the future, we’re going to be thinking for conservatives…” This superior Alt-Right intelligence will eventually allow the movement to harness the institutions the religious right built, he believes, and entice religious conservatives into white nationalism. It would be easy enough, he says, because “there’s not a single intelligent person in that entire world.”

That story generated the first iteration of Posner’s attempt to yoke the Religious Right and the Alt-Right. In a New York Times op-ed published one day after her Rolling Stone essay, Posner functionally repeated Spencer’s claims. As she puts it, “hitching their wagon” to Trump means that “religious-right leaders are also tying their fortunes to the alt-right…”

Now, one might reasonably wonder what the Religious Right thinks of Richard Spencer’s suggestion that “family values” are simply a front for racism. I’m no Alt-Right aficionado, but it is not clear to me that Spencer is credible enough a source to simply take his word for it. There is a significant gap between the Alt-Right wanting to become allies with the Religious Right, and the Religious Right going along with the scheme. But by the end of the Posner Trilogy, one has no idea what the Religious Right in fact thinks about the Alt-Right—because Posner does not even report that she tried to ask them.

Instead, she throws the weight of her argument on to Randall Balmer’s contention that the origins of the Religious Right were about racism. See, the Religious Right were originally racists; the Alt Right are racists; ergo, the Religious Right and Alt Right are clearly besties! Never mind that huge swaths of the post-Christian Alt-Right would barely be able to stomach the nationalistic piety of the Values Voter Summit. Their constituencies simply do not align. While the Religious Right is predominately white, the grandmas who are keeping the Family Research Council and the American Family Association alive would almost certainly think ‘cuckservative’ is a swear word. None of the sociology seems to matter, though, given the story Balmer tells. The history of the Religious Right reveals all.

Only Balmer’s history is wrong. As his story goes, the Religious Right galvanized around the 1983 Supreme Court decision to strip Bob Jones University of its tax exempt status for its interracial dating ban. It’s a convenient story, and has a grain of truthfulness—the Religious Right did express an exceptional amount of concern about the Court’s decision and its impact on religious liberty protections for Christian institutions. But the anxieties that the Bob Jones decision exacerbated within the Religious Right had been building within the movement for a long time—and they had far less to do with race than Balmer (and Posner) assumes. It is a history that deserves retelling.

Carl McIntire and the Religious Liberty Crises of the 1970s

Only one radio station in American history has ever had its license revoked because of its programming: Carl McIntire’s WXUR, in 1970. A self-described fundamentalist, McIntire relentlessly challenged the socialist and progressive theologies of the mainline Protestant ecumenical groups, and tirelessly announced across America’s airwaves the gospels of liberty, capitalism and Jesus Christ. His reward for these efforts was a two-decade fight with progressive organizations who sought to use the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” which the FCC had implemented in 1949, to silence him. They eventually won, prompting hundreds of stations across the country to pull McIntire’s programming off out of fear and threatening one of his central bases of national influence.

But McIntire would not let his martyrdom be in vain. As Markku Ruotsila writes in Fighting Fundamentalist, his stellar new biography of McIntire, the episode allowed McIntire to present himself as “the victim of political persecution and as a champion of freedom of speech,” which was precisely what he wanted. The miscalculation of his progressive foes “ended up swelling the ranks of the Right and deepening the resolve of the fundamentalist faithful.”

Ruotsila’s portrait seriously undermines Balmer’s hypothesis that the Religious Right was created ex nihilo by the Bob Jones decision. As Ruotsila tells it, the conservative Christian community’s “sense of grievance was fed at least as much by instances of government action against their access to the media as it was by the IRS’s assault on their schools.” For fundamentalists, freedom of speech and religious liberty were under attack, which required a counteroffensive. “No man,” Ruotsila writes, “kept this perception and this call to action alive as much as did the principal victim of the liberals’ assault, Carl McIntire.”

On Ruotsila’s telling, Carl McIntire was a major contributor to the (re)politicization of conservative Protestant Christianity in the twenty century. He both prefigured the tactics of the Religious Right and was then overshadowed by their emergence, making him something of a forgotten forerunner of the movement. Part pastor, part political activist, the full-time agitator McIntire was as divisive as he was influential. He studied with J. Gresham Machen, mentored Francis Schaeffer—who was instrumental to the emergence of the Religious Right—and fell out with them both. He chafed against Machen’s abandonment of political activism, and set up his own magazine (the ‘Christian Beacon’) and denomination to counter it. That became a familiar tune; he eventually established the American Council of Christian Churches to fight the Social Gospellers, the Commies, the Catholics and just about anyone else who got in his way. But especially the Commies. McIntire was there in the 60s, helping kill the influence of mainline Protestantism on American political life by saturating the airwaves (including in the press) with allegations that they were un-Christian and un-American.

It is true that McIntire resisted the civil rights movement, but Ruotsila’s picture of the racial dynamics of his life makes them seem more complicated than that fact alone would suggest. (His small denomination had several African American pastors in it, for instance.) Instead, Ruotsila thought the Civil Rights movement was a threat to capitalism and freedom. With typical verve, he suggested that the “Communists are surely behind it.” Ruotsila is judicious; he acknowledges that the argument was “carefully framed to obscure [McIntire’s] own prejudices,” but proposes that he “also genuinely believed it to be a statement of fact.”

McIntire’s opposition to the Civil Rights movement, in fact, was an enormous missed opportunity for groups who could have been natural allies in their opposition to federal government power. Ruotsila points out that in the 60s, the IRS targeted two groups: black civil rights leaders, and white Protestant fundamentalists like McIntire. Under Kennedy’s administration, independent, fundamentalist churches in McIntire’s network reported being harassed by the IRS because they were not part of recognized denominations. In 1965, a series of unfounded attacks on McIntire appeared in the press, which Ruotsila describes as a “coordinated effort by a relatively small coterie of liberal religious and civic groups.” The Johnson administration carried on the harassment of religious fundamentalists through the IRS, and McIntire was even hauled before the FBI for an inquiry about whether he was personally involved in the Kennedy assassination. (Seriously.)

Naturally, McIntire made the most of the mortal danger such governmental powers posed to freedom, which his foes painted as “paranoia and conspiracies.”  But Ruotsila’s judgment on all this is straightforward: As “bizarre as McIntire sometimes sounded, the fact was that he was under siege and was being targeted.” McIntire had, indeed, sometimes gone as far as to call for investigations into his foes. But “never had he done what liberals now started doing to him—advocating and lobbying for silencing him on the air by federal order.”

McIntire thus set the template for the Religious Right, both in his tactics and in his sense of grievance about the government—but he would not be the new movement’s leader. Francis Schaeffer’s returned to his mentor’s ways in the late 1970s, helping to galvanize the New Christian Right. Jerry Falwell was not simply a fundamentalist cut from the same cloth as McIntire: he was also a correspondent, a supporter, and a fellow victim of government overreach. During the Carter administration, the IRS took action against Falwell, which “precipitated the cancellation of Falwell’s television program on forty stations and more than a hundred stations’ refusal to carry it.” Falwell’s  ‘Moral Majority’ would embody McIntire’s political vision, even if Falwell betrayed McIntire’s purity instincts by partnering with more moderate ‘evangelicals.’ Still, McIntire’s populist methods, his use of boycotts and petitions, his use of radio all became parts of the Religious Right’s arsenal, along with his use of grievances to animate support on his behalf.

This history is the indispensable backdrop for understanding why the Bob Jones decision so threatened conservative Christians. While evangelicals indisputably have a less-than-exemplary record on questions of race, their own history within the South is not necessarily identical or equivalent to the history of the Religious Right. The most charitable interpretation of Bob Jones is that the Religious Right defended the wrong practice for the right reasons, namely, the freedom of religious institutions to govern themselves.  But given the extensive anxiety about the IRS, the FCC, and other federal government efforts to impinge upon fundamentalist preachers, almost any similar case would have generated the same kind of outrage. The history of the Religious Right can be reduced to defending racial purity only if the 1970s and Carl McIntire simply never happened.  

We shouldn’t let the religious right off the hook, but we should criticize them fairly.

The Religious Right should have seen this coming, of course. It was inevitable that in signing up with Trump, they would be viewed as responsible for what happens while he is in office. And so they should be. But being held responsible for what his other supporters do and say is a different matter. While it is politically expedient for progressives to pursue such a narrative, it is immensely dangerous to force the Religious Right to carry the cross of the Alt Right. They are not natural bedfellows—and those who oppose both should wish to see them divided against each other, and not united in their grievances against progressives.

The reasons for this are many, but I’ll name two. First, the alt-right is a virus that, once set loose, may prove far more vicious and violent than the Religious Right ever did. While I have no doubt it is tempting for progressives to pursue the death of the Religious Right by such means, the unintended collateral damage of such an effort could be considerable. Viruses are not so easily controlled once released into the wild as we might think. Progressives once shouted repeatedly that traditional marriage supporters were on the “wrong side of history” as a way of pre-emptively undermining their confidence. The strategy was effective, as it is far harder to hold onto your views as a minority. But if the Alt Right is bad, why embolden them by perpetuating their hopes that they will have a home within the institutions of the Religious Right?

Such is the prudential reason. But there is one further principle that ought to restrain progressives: charity. Two groups aligned upon the same candidate, but for very different reasons and aims. Collapsing those reasons together not only creates an intellectual muddle: It undermines the social conditions for true and genuine self-reflection within the Religious Right about what they have wrought on America. Such a tactic contributes to social distrust and division, inasmuch as it over-accuses and so emboldens Religious Right leaders to reject all the rest of the critiques that will doubtlessly come their way the next four years. Keeping apart constituencies that Donald Trump (somehow, for now) holds together is an act of civic friendship—and we are in a great need of those these days.

The fabric of American society has been rent apart for the past thirty years, and the Religious Right has been centrally—though by no means solely—responsible for that. And yet as contentious and as divisive as the culture war has been, progressives and conservatives could plausibly unite around the proposition that the alt-right’s aspirations and ethos represent a serious and grave step backward for American life. Such common ground will not undo the ill will the past thirty years have generated—but it could be the start of a mutual effort to stitch together again the fraying stitches of our common life.

Featured image via: http://www.capecentralhigh.com/journalism/before-glenn-beck-carl-mcintire/

Enjoy the article? Pay the writer.

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $0

  1. Sarah is honestly one of my favorite progressive religion writers out there. She and I have never met, unfortunately, but we’ve had a number of conversations over the years that have been both informative and challenging, which are the best sort. I genuinely do like much of her work—but I think her argument here is not very good, and needs to be named as such.

Posted by Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is the Founder and Lead Writer of Mere Orthodoxy. He is the author of Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to our Faith and The End of Our Exploring: A Book about Questioning and the Confidence of Faith. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook.

  • Adam Shields

    I think you are flattening out Balmer’s history by saying that the Religious Right was “created ex nihilo by the Bob Jones decision.”

    Even in his article he doesn’t say that the religious right was created by the Bob Jones decision. He says that was one of the mobilizing forces that is under recognized. I think he is wrong that it was more important than Roe. But I do think he cites enough evidence that it should not be completely discounted as one of a number of forces.

    No history is the result of one thing.

    Sarah Posner’s reading of Balmer is pretty much equally flattened.

    I think the better line of reasoning is that there are some overlapping interests between the Alt Right and some aspects of the Evangelical world. And we should be concerned about those overlapping interests because many of those overlapping interests are examples of beliefs that are not Christian values. (And these are examples of badly catechized evangelicals.)

    The increasing rejection of religious freedom by Evangelicals for non-Christians (supporting of creating Muslim registries or banning Muslim immigration or simple denial of building permits for mosques) and the continued racism of the White Evangelical church, among other issues, matter.

    I agree that Posner’s tying of the Alt Right to the Religious Right is problematic. But there are lots of evangelicals that are also raising concerns that are not dissimilar.

    • Balmer: “So what then were the real origins of the religious right? It turns out that the movement can trace its political roots back to a court ruling, but not Roe v. Wade.” So no, I don’t think I’m flattening his view at all.

      Additionally, Balmer frames the interest in Bob Jones as *purely* about protecting *racist beliefs.* But that is simply false; the concerns about religious liberty extended well beyond and outside beliefs having to do with race. So if anyone should be accused of ‘flattening,’ it’s Balmer.

      Lastly, nothing I wrote invalidates concerns about racism within evangelical circles, etc. I am very interested in seeing those sorts of critiques go forward. But nobody is helped when such critiques are aligned with false narratives.

      • hoosier_bob

        While Posner may have overstated her case, the historical facts most support Balmer’s thesis. Moreover, by my recollection, initial opposition to abortion had very little to do with concerns about the civil rights of the fetus. I recall an evangelical neighbor referring to abortion as a “get-out-of-jail-free card for sluts.”

        One reason I left evangelicalism is that I never felt comfortable with the movement’s belief that Christian orthodoxy necessitates the systematic social and legal marginalization of certain “others.” This is most plain in the recent cultural kerfuffles around same-sex marriage. I’m not altogether persuaded as to the wisdom of same-sex marriage. Even so, I’ve never understood why it bothers certain evangelicals so much. It seems that non-heterosexual people somehow became the great bogeyman of the past generation of evangelicals. Before that, it was the blacks. Before that, it was the Communists, the Jews, and so on.

        Evangelicalism may not be a subsidiary of the alt-right. But it is a fellow member of the family of movements that center around some variant of right-wing authoritarianism. That’s not to say that every evangelical is a right-wing authoritarian. But as political moderates check out of the movement, it’s becoming more and more that way.

  • Posner’s piece is a hatchet job and fits perfectly the New Republic’s hysteria over Trump. (Lament may be in order but adults don’t do hysteria.) You bury her lead, which is Russell Moore as the good kind of evangelical — why? because he opposed Trump. But you think Posner would be so charitable toward Moore if she talked about his views on gay marriage and LGBTplus?

    She’s trying to condemn Trump another way — at least it’s not Russia. Mark Fuhrman had more evidence against OJ than Posner has against evangelicals. And I don’t even like evangelicals.

  • wmrharris

    Ballmer underplays the impact of S California in the formation of the Religious Right. Politically active Christian nationalism emerged from two deep streams: that of southern white protestantism, and the new right synthesis in Orange County. The latter grew from “Okie” immigration of the 30s, which brought Church of Christ fundamentalism and Southern Baptists together — what is most interesting for this story is its relative lack of racial animosity, It was not the color line but anti-communism and the embrace of free markets that shaped the thinking. This is the stream of Goldwater and Reagan. To Orange County and the Deep South, we can add the conservative upper Midwest, with its mix of Lutherans (LCMS and Wisconsin) and the Dutch Reformed communities. The Upper Midwest allowed the bridge-building to Catholics that the other two streams lacked. Finally, one should note the role of the PCA in all of this, a mix of presbyterians of the Midwest and the utterly segregationist town square churches of the South. In a derivative fashion, one can trace the arguments used in Hobby Lobby case to notions in the PCA that were in turn derived from the Dutch Reformed.

    McIntire was an outlier to all of this, the action was in Southern California.

    And to add a further nuance, Peter Bienart’s article on the Trump supporters. He significantly notes that the President draws support from those who are culturally of the Religious Right, rather than from those who regularly worship. And there, the hypothesis that this population would end up in the alt-Right seems at least plausible.

    • hoosier_bob

      As Sean Lucas has noted, racial issues played a key role in the formation of the PCA the the founding of RTS. In fact, one of the denomination’s founders was an unapologetic segregationist. One of the founders of Christianity Today was also a segregationist.

      I’m also chuckling a bit at the suggestion that Orange County was not racist. Have you been to Phoenix recently, the metro area to which many Orange County residents relocated following the growth of the Hispanic population in California? Sheriff Joe’s biggest supporters were white evangelicals.

      I think Posner overstated her case a bit. Even so, it’s hard to deny that evangelical identity is inseparable from the the anger of conservative, white, middle-class Christians over their loss of social hegemony.

  • We should note a few things here. First, the alt-right does not have a monopoly on racism. Does that mean I can name other groups that are racist? Yes and no. The real issue is that racism exists on a continuum rather than isolated to specific groups. And since much of the history of our nation involves explicit and implicit White Supremacy, racism can easily hide in a yearning for the past.

    For example, we need to realize that a yearning for our Founding Fathers’ view of government and society was inherently racist. They wanted expansion to the West but Britain limited that out of concern for the plight of Native Americans. They wanted a government that revolved around wealth and wealth back then was predominantly in the hands of wealthy white landowners. They wanted a society based on certain religious values but those values revolved around White, Protestant exceptionalism. That yearning for the ‘good old days’ can easily include a yearning for various degree of racism. And what is particularly telling is that many on the Religious Right, in response to the Sexual Revolution, a return to a time when America was God’s Country. Of course, that time period existed either under slavery or Jim Crow.

    We can see racism in whatever support that the religious right has for Trump’s Wall or his immigration bans. While we strain to count the number of immigrants who enter our nation, especially those who enter illegally, we often overlook the reason how our foreign policies affect that number. In addition, some on the religious right say we must limit the number of such immigrants lest we suffer the same problems as Europe does. And what is one of the major problems Europe is suffering from? It is from losing its White identity because of the changing ratio of White Europeans to people from the Middle East. Only here, the concern has to do with the number of Hispanics vs the number of Whites. This concern is expressed in the Relgious Right’s insistence that English remain the language of America despite the changing ratio of Hispanics to Americans. Why shouldn’t we officially become a bilingual nation with the number of Hispanics we have in our nation? Is it because English, not Spanish, is the language of our Founding Fathers? But hasn’t history through their ethnic cleansing of Native Americans from our land and their enslavement of Blacks shown them to be racist to a significant degree? Wasn’t our invasion of Mexico, which means the invasion of what is now part of the US but was part of Mexico, racist? Wasn’t our government really fighting for the independence of Whites who moved West?

    But isn’t the religious right also concerned about the number Muslims entering our nation? And what race is least associated with Islam as members?

    In short, many from the religious rights can tolerate people from other races as long as they succumb to White conservative Christian culture. And what we don’t realize is that there is much racism in such tolerance. At the same time, there is the ‘bull in a china shop’ syndrome over the laws and foreign policies of our nation that promote Christian values and identity. For how much concern do we have regarding our nation’s foreign policies to the South that have caused dramatic increases in the number of legal and illegal immigrants? And how much concern do we have for the plight that Arabs must suffer from our foreign policies compared to our legitimate concerns when a European founded Israel suffers from terrorist or other attacks?

    We don’t have to be alt-right to be racist. That is because racism has played a significant role in the celebrated history of our nation. And just think, once we start to adequately address our racism, we then must also address economic classism.

    • Rg

      I agree that racism is not inherent to one group or another and that it is more of a societal problem. But this paragraph is broad and pretty historically inaccurate. “For example, we need to realize that a yearning for our Founding Fathers’ view of government and society was inherently racist. They wanted expansion to the West but Britain limited that out of concern for the plight of Native Americans. They wanted a government that revolved around wealth and wealth back then was predominantly in the hands of wealthy white landowners. They wanted a society based on certain religious values but those values revolved around White, Protestant exceptionalism.”
      It was the British Empire who institutionalized slavery in the colonies. They were in no way concerned about the rights of minorities. Our Founding Fathers were an odd crew. A mix of abolitionist Christians, Diests, athiests, and what we would call liberal Christians. Their goal was to form a Republic based on Greek and Roman ideals mixed in with English liberties (see Enlightenment to understand their way of thinking). Their primary failing was in their desire to pass the Declaration, they caved on the issue of slavery. They knew the southern colonies would not go along with it if slavery was abolished, so they removed the portion about ending slavery. Thus further institutionalizing slavery and perpetuating racism. One can appreciate and value the contributions and bravery of our Founding Fathers, while being honest about their faults and failings. History should never be looked at through an ideological lense. It should be allowed to speak for itself.

      • Rg,
        First, thank you for your respectful response. Will try to address your points here.

        True, the British institutionalized slavery, But they also ended it before we did. In addition, if you read the 3rd verse of the Star Spangled Banner, you will see that it celebrated that terrorizing and killing of Black slaves.

        But that isn’t really the issue here. Let me ask this: Do you think that slavery was the only way racism was exhibited in the US? And did you realize that some abolitionists still believed in white supremacy? In addition, did you realize that slavery existed in the North as well. It ended in New York in 1827 and in Connecticut in 1848?

        Even after slavery ended, racism ran rampant in both the North and the South. There was Jim Crow in the South and Martin Luther King Jr. realized this when he visited the North and saw saw different forms of racism there.

  • > one further principle that ought to restrain progressives: charity.

    Very good point. And an interesting article too.

    But as to this exact issue of Charity – “pot kettle much?” I enjoy this BLOG, and I am a Progressive, on The Left, and a resident of an urban neighborhood [which makes me a “Metropolitan” according to another author on this BLOG]. And there is a whole lot of exactly the same lumping going on in this BLOG. Many times I have read posts here telling *me* what Progressives or “Metropolitans” believe, and even *why* we do so. But *no*, that is not what I believe, nor was it why I believed [or actually didn’t] said beliefs. As an urban and transportation advocate I spend a lot of time talking to Progressives, *and others*, about what they believe – as in their beliefs from their mouths to my ears; to be blunt – this BLOG very often goes wide of the mark of understanding the other side. Some of the authors here read far to many books [written by self appointed authorities] and *talk* to far too few people.

  • Pingback: On the Religious Right – Written and Noted()

  • Darrell

    I don’t see, beyond perhaps nuance and slight shading, where the writer takes away anything of substance as far as Posner’s main thesis. I think the fact remains that the true animus behind the rise of the modern Religious Right was related to the Civil Rights movement and court decisions in those areas, rather than abortion or religious liberty in general. Let’s be honest: What is being reflected in this post is the embarrassment, the awkwardness, the cognitive dissonance that comes from learning one is too close to a political movement one knows is deeply opposed to the Gospel. The writer wants to put some distance between the safe and sanitized “Right” and these others who seem to think they are part of that same team. Gee, I wonder why they think that? Trump made a lot of people get into bed with each other wherein before they could just wink at each other from a distance. Now we have people waking up, turning over, and like the guy/gal who drank too much and waited until 1:50 a.m. to pick a partner, seeing something they just want to sneak away from. Sorry, too late. Last night happened. Deal with it. Own it. And bringing up Carl McIntire doesn’t change Posner’s thesis in the slightest; in fact, it only further supports it. From The Gospel Coalition’s review of the book noted above:

    “Last, Ruotsila shows that McIntire’s lack of discernment pushed him into social arenas from which his theological commitments should’ve prevented him. His strong belief in the Communist agenda of the civil rights movement put him in league with the Ku Klux Klan and Citizens’ Councils. These groups used his image and words to further their radical racism.”

    The above is a charitable reading, believing that his errors came from his anti-communism, rather than any sort of personal racism or prejudice. Still, even going with such a reading, it doesn’t change the fact that for many who followed him, their animating focus was indeed racism and it is the aggregate, not just one man, who made up the “Religious Right”.

    • hoosier_bob

      Well said. Posner may have overstated her case a bit, but only by a bit. After all, well into the 1990s, a majority of evangelicals believed that interracial dating was immoral.

  • If we look at racism as existing on a continuum rather than at a discrete point, I think some of the accusations about the Religious Right leaning toward racism is fair. Evidence of that is contained in this article: protesting the court decision against Bob Jones University and not supporting the Civil Rights movement. But perhaps the most damning evidence of the Religious Right’s flavor of racism is what it celebrates in America. It celebrates the founding fathers and our beginning and much time that existed before the Sexual Revolution. Note that Jim Crow existed before the Sexual Revolution and in that lies an important point. That the Sexual Revolution stood as a deal breaker for what America should be about, Jim Crow did not. Likewise, while the Religious Right canonize our nation’s beginning and its founding fathers, that the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans and enslaving Blacks were again not deal breakers in defining the parts of America they put on a pedestal.

    It seems that the Religious Right will accept people of other races provided that those people accept and follow the Religious Right’s view of what America should be. But that view is heavily influenced by times that were severely marked by racism. Again, racism was not a deal breaker.

    The Religious Right, from what I have seen, are not explicitly or actively racist. But neither was I when I went to college. I came from a northern suburban high school that did not have any Black students until my senior year. And though I never thought of myself as a racist back then, I have come to the conclusion that I was a passive racist back then. I was quick to judge American Black students who were not like my friends and I because of the hardships racism had dealt them. I blamed them for their negativity because I was completely ignorant of their circumstances–I led a very sheltered life before and even during college.

    Hopefully, I am not a racist now but whom am I to judge? With the stigma that racism deserves, I have a conflict of interests in judging whether I am a racist. And perhaps, the Religious Right would do well to adopt the same self-perception I have rather than to try to prove to the world that they do not suffer from the disease of racism. For the America that the Religious Right celebrates is an America that saw either ethnic cleansing, slavery, or Jim Crow. The Religious Right needs input from the outside before it can say that it is pure. Whether that input should include Posner’s views should be seriously considered. But her criteria are not the only criteria to be used in testing the Religious Right.

    So what is proved if the Religious Right is not a subsidiary of the Alt-Right. The Religious Right needs to look in the mirror, not at group portraits.