The Politicalization of the American Evangelical Press, 1960-1981: A Test of the Ideological Theory of Social Movement Mobilization
In the last decade, scholars have increasingly begun to study the role of issue entrepreneurs and subculture elites in utilizing ideologies, frames and cultural symbolism in the mobilization of social and political movements. Despite this, one of the most important social/political movements of the last century, the rise of the Evangelical Right, has largely escaped examination through these lenses. A limited number have focused their attention upon the more prominent evangelical leaders, like Rev. Jerry Falwell, but this work examines the evangelical subculture from a broader perspective. A similar criticism is that the scholarship in this field often oversimplifies this political reawakening. Researchers often suggest that the 1976 presidential campaign of fellow evangelical Jimmy Carter was the central mobilizing force which propelled white evangelicals into the electoral arena, causing secular conservative political operatives to realize the dormant electoral potential of this community. This study shows that operatives and elites within the evangelical subculture were moving to politicalize the subculture long before the 1980 election, the establishment of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority or even the 1976 election. Finally, this study provides an analysis of the ideology evangelicals were mobilized under during the 1960s and 1970s. Social movement scholars have recently begun talking about the functions movement ideologies must serve for a mobilization to be successful. This study tests these hypotheses with a systematic, empirical, primary source analysis, rather than the nonsystematic, hearsay or anecdotal evidence that exemplifies most of the social movements’ literature. The final chapter provides an overview of the political ideology and issue framing which emerge from the pages of the major evangelical periodicals of this time period. This politicalization of the evangelical subculture is an important topic for analysis not only because of what it can tell us about the top-down mobilization of social/political movements, but also because of the insights it lends to the formation of one of the most significant and powerful political movements in recent history.
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:religious right christian evangelical conservatives magazines social movements religion and politics christianity today life moody monthly decision
Date of Publication:01/01/2006