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Jimmy Carter and the rise of the New Christian Right. / Andrew Richard Flint

Swansea University Author: Andrew Richard Flint

Abstract

This thesis will extend the current re-evaluation of the presidency of Jimmy Carter through a detailed examination of the enduring impact of his Southern Baptist Christian faith upon the modern American political discourse. It will show that the relationship between Jimmy Carter's deeply felt r...

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Published: 2007
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa42340
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Abstract: This thesis will extend the current re-evaluation of the presidency of Jimmy Carter through a detailed examination of the enduring impact of his Southern Baptist Christian faith upon the modern American political discourse. It will show that the relationship between Jimmy Carter's deeply felt religiosity and his political vision is primary to an understanding of the lasting legacy of his presidency. Carter dramatically reconfigured the relationship between religious faith and the presidency. The first president to articulate forthrightly a highly intimate and deeply felt personal religious faith to the American electorate, Carter placed spiritual concerns at the centre of the American political debate. I will investigate Carter's relationship with the forces of conservative Christendom with regards to a number of interwoven policy issues deemed by the evangelical community to be emblematic of the increasingly liberal, secular humanist nature of the American public and political discourse. Specifically, I will explore the issues of abortion, the role of religion in private schools, the place of prayer in public schools, gay and lesbian rights, Christian family values and the Congressional ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. I will discuss how the policies of the Carter White House on these so-called 'hot button' issues for religious conservatives acted as a catalyst for Christian political activism during the 1970s, laying the basis for their key role in American political life thereafter. I will explain how, paradoxically, the most overtly evangelical president in American history not only failed to retain the support of the conservative Christian community but was integral in the emergence of the New Religious, or New Christian Right, as a key Republican Party constituency. Jimmy Carter successfully reawakened faith-based politics but because his faith did not exactly mirror the religious and political agenda of the disparate groups that make up the religious conservative movement within the United States, that newly awakened force within American politics ultimately used its power to replace him with Ronald Reagan, a president who more carefully articulated their agenda.
Keywords: Political science.;Religion.;American history.;Biographies.
College: College of Arts and Humanities