Christian right or religious right is a term used - mainly in the United States - to label right-wing Christian political factions that are characterized by their strong support of socially conservative policies.
Christian conservatives principally seek to apply their understanding of the teachings of Christianity to politics and to public policy by proclaiming the value of those teachings or by seeking to use those teachings to influence law and public policy.
The Christian right has been a notable force in both the Republican party and American politics since the late 1970s, when Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell and other Christian leaders began to urge conservative Christians to involve themselves in the political process.
In response to the rise of the Christian right, the 1980 Republican Party platform assumed a number of its positions, including dropping support for the Equal Rights Amendment and adding support for a restoration of school prayer.
The past two decades have been an important time in the political debates and in the same time frame religious citizens became more politically active in a time period labeled the New Christian Right.
While the influence of the Christian right is typically traced to the 1980 Presidential election, Daniel K.
The phrase 'socially conservative evangelicals' is not very exciting, but that's certainly the way to do it." Evangelical leaders like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council have called attention to the problem of equating the term "Christian right" with evangelicals.
Although evangelicals constitute the core constituency of the Christian right, not all evangelicals fit the description.The problem of description is further complicated by the fact that religious conservative may refer to other groups.Mennonites and the Amish, for example, are theologically conservative, however there are no overtly political organizations associated with these denominations.Williams argues in God's Own Party that it had actually been involved in politics for most of the twentieth century.He also notes that the Christian right had previously been in alliance with the Republican Party in the 1940s through 1960s on matters such as opposition to communism and defending "a Protestant-based moral order." The alienation of Southern Democrats from the Democratic Party contributed to the rise of the right, as the counterculture of the 1960s provoked fear of social disintegration. President Jimmy Carter received the support of the Christian right largely because of his much-acclaimed religious conversion.In addition, as the Democratic Party became identified with a pro-choice position on abortion and with nontraditional societal values, social conservatives joined the Republican Party in increasing numbers. However, Carter's spiritual transformation did not compensate for his liberal policies in the minds of Christian conservatives, as reflected in Jerry Falwell's criticism that "Americans have literally stood by and watched as godless, spineless leaders have brought our nation floundering to the brink of death." The contemporary Christian right organized in reaction to a series of United States Supreme Court decisions, most notably Bob Jones University v. United States, which challenged the tax-exempt status of schools that discriminated against blacks.