Christian Right Seeks Renewal in Deepening Catholic-Protestant Alliance

About Frederick Clarkson


Despite recent losses in the culture war, the Christian Right is forging a path forward by rallying around a few key issues: antichoice, opposition to marriage equality, and the defense of “religious liberty.” These themes—set forth in the influential Manhattan Declaration in 2009—have proved powerful enough to unify conservative Catholics and Protestants against their common enemies.

Important underlying Christian values have proved powerful enough to unify conservative Catholics and Protestants against their common enemies.

Looking to move beyond deep historic divisions, key factions of conservative Christianity may have found a way forward.

The Christian Right is prepared for nothing but struggle for the foreseeable future. The fate of the nation, its leaders told us, would turn on the 2012 election: Either America would reconnect to its roots as a Christian nation or perhaps earn God’s wrath. But the election produced little good news for them at the national level. President Obama won reelection. Marriage equality won in every state that it was on the ballot.

Since then, broad shifts in public opinion about same-sex marriage have continued to buffet religious conservatives. Nonetheless, a mere week before the Supreme Court’s late-June decisions regarding marriage equality, a diverse group of 250 defiant Christian Right leaders swore resistance to the “redefinition” of marriage. “[M]ake no mistake about our resolve,” they declared in a statement. “While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the true common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross.”1

The statement was titled “We Stand in Solidarity to Defend Marriage and the Family and Society Founded Upon Them.” Signers included Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life; Fox News personality Mike Huckabee; Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition; and such influential evangelical leaders as Revs. Franklin Graham, Harry Jackson Jr., and Samuel Rodriguez.

Given the Christian Right’s recent defeats in the realm of marriage equality, it might seem that its power is diminishing and that the so-called culture wars are receding. But “We Stand in Solidarity” is one of many indications that its resolve has deepened rather than dissipated in the face of recent political setbacks. This dynamic, multifaceted movement—one of the most powerful in U.S. history—aims to become a renewed, vigorous force in American public life, and it continues to evolve even while maintaining its views on core issues.

Notably, the movement is being shaped and sustained by a political alliance between evangelicals and the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church. Though it was unthinkable as recently as a decade ago, this developing evangelical-Catholic alliance is key to understanding the Christian Right’s plan for regrouping in the near term—and ultimately reclaiming the future.

Changing of the guard

The “New” Christian Right that emerged in the late 1970s was defined by a wave of institution building that targeted multiple realms of American society, especially education, broadcasting, and politics. Dobson, for example, founded Focus on the Family in 1977 for the purpose of promoting conservative, “family-friendly” ideologies and public policies. The same year, Pat Robertson founded Christian Broadcasting Network University (now Regent University). In 1979, Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority with the goal of mobilizing conservative Christians into a voting bloc to advance a rightward shift in American politics, most immediately by supporting Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign. Falwell went on to found Liberty University, now the largest Christian university in the world.

By the mid-1990s, with the Moral Majority long gone, Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition became the established power broker that Falwell’s organization had aspired to be, and Christian conservatives dominated the Republican National Convention in 1996. Their influence was so strong that two prochoice Republican governors—William Weld of Massachusetts and Pete Wilson of California—declined to speak because of content restrictions.

Though the Christian Coalition itself had faded, its successes at political mobilization—pushing apolitical religious conservatives to become voters, voters to become activists, and activists to become candidates—have become woven into the fabric of our national political life, particularly within the GOP.

The election of George W. Bush in 2000 has been regarded as the high-water mark for the political power of the Christian Right. But it would be a mistake to see the movement’s power and legacy in terms of the success of any particular politician. Its greatest success, in fact, has been somewhat under the radar: creating an institutional network that fosters young conservatives and encourages them to translate conservative ideas into public policy. Regent University and Liberty University, for example, have now graduated a generation of lawyers. Perhaps most prominently, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell is a graduate of Regent University Law School.

The Christian Coalition has been supplanted by a number of other politically focused organizations, and for a decade the leaders of New Christian Right’s founding generation have passed the torch, one by one, to younger leaders.2 Jim Daly succeeded Dobson as head of Focus on the Family, and Falwell, who died in 2007, has been succeeded by his sons: Jerry Falwell Jr. is chancellor of Liberty University, and Jonathan Falwell is senior pastor at Thomas Road Baptist Church. Pat Robertson’s son, Gordon, is now CEO of The Christian Broadcasting Network. Similar scenarios have played out across a range of institutions that were founded in the early years of the then-new Christian Right.

But this generational transition is neither as challenging nor as important as the Christian Right’s efforts to overcome a long history of internal sectarian distrust, conflicting religious doctrines, and differing views about whose ideas should prevail in government. Those efforts are succeeding. The movement is guided by a clear strategic vision, and it is displaying a remarkable level of cooperation and capacity to keep pace with rapid social change.

Historic divisions

It is easy to forget that much of Christianity is still emerging from the fog of religious war and the smoldering tensions of the Protestant Reformation. As various Christian sects broke away from the Roman Catholic Church, beginning in the sixteenth century, religious wars and persecutions marked the history of Europe. From the days of the Holy Roman Empire, the Church had armies and navies, and it didn’t relinquish its military power until the democratic revolution in Italy in the nineteenth century.

In the United States, Roman Catholics have been subject to nativist bigotry across the centuries—especially from Protestant fundamentalists. John F. Kennedy’s famous 1960 campaign speech, in which he declared before a meeting of Protestant ministers that he believed in separation of church and state and would not be beholden to the Pope, was a watershed moment in the history of Roman Catholicism in American public life. It set the standard by which politicians navigated religion and politics for a generation.3 Kennedy modeled how to be true to one’s faith while respecting the culture of religious pluralism and the constitutional doctrine of church-state separation.

While conservative Roman Catholics have long been a vital part of the broad religious/political coalition known as the Christian Right, finding ways to broaden and deepen the coalition of right-wing evangelical Protestants and Catholics has been a difficult and controversial undertaking. A case in point is the famous appearance by Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on CNN’s Larry King Live in 2000. “As an evangelical,” Mohler said, “I believe the Roman Church is a false church and it teaches a false gospel. I believe the pope himself holds a false and unbiblical office.”4 Mohler’s views are unexceptional in much of evangelical and fundamentalist Protestantism. (More recently, Mohler insisted that the mainline Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is “not a church,” because, in 2013, it elected as a bishop a respected, gay professor of theology.)5

The abhorrence has been mutual. In 2000, the Vatican issued a proclamation titled Dominus Iesus, which declared that other Christian churches “are not ‘churches’ in the proper sense.” The Vatican declared this a “definitive and irrevocable” doctrine of the Church.6

Reconciling such differences by finding common approaches to address them has been an elusive long-term project. Yet the key factions of conservative Christianity may have found a lasting way forward.

Bridging the great divide: the Manhattan Declaration

The turning point was the November 2009 publication of a manifesto titled Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience. Originally signed by 150 Christian Right religious and political leaders, its distinct achievement has been to broaden and deepen the emerging alliance between conservative Roman Catholics and right-wing evangelical Protestants. Indeed, the historic convergence of evangelical institutions and activists with the American Roman Catholic Church is underscored by the fact that fully 50 sitting bishops, archbishops and cardinals—not merely a token Catholic prelate or two—signed the Declaration.

The document is a statement of shared principles and a common approach to politics and public policy for the foreseeable future. It focuses on three interrelated values: “sanctity of life,” “traditional marriage,” and “religious freedom.” Invoking Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” it calls for “resistance to the point of civil disobedience against any legislation that might implicate their churches or charities in abortion, embryo-destructive research or same-sex marriage.”

Robert P. George, a professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University and prominent Roman Catholic neoconservative, originated the Declaration.7 George is also the founder and guiding light of a number of related institutions, including the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the Witherspoon Institute, the American Principles Project, and American Principles in Action. He recruited the late evangelical leader Charles Colson and Beeson Divinity School Dean Timothy George as co-authors, and he later helped recruit the document’s original 150 signatories (most of whom were men), subtly in the style of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

Some are among the best-known Christian Right leaders in the United States. These include top Catholic prelates and evangelical leaders, notably Archbishop (now Cardinal) Timothy Dolan of New York and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals. Signatories also include more politically oriented figures such as Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family; Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage; and Alan Sears, president of the Alliance Defending Freedom. There are also half a dozen leaders of the low-profile New Apostolic Reformation, including Revs. Harry Jackson, Joseph Mattera, and Samuel Rodriguez, each of whom is an “apostle” overseeing a large network of Neocharismatic churches.8 Primarily via the website devoted to the Declaration, more than 540,000 people have joined the original signers, generating a massive email list that may prove useful to the Christian Right.

For all the Declarationists’ ecumenical diversity, the document’s significance is perhaps best epitomized by Albert Mohler, who, a decade earlier, had declared his abhorrence of Roman Catholicism on Larry King Live. In 2009, Mohler explained his rationale for signing the Declaration, though he does not usually sign manifestos, and he noted that this exception should not be taken as a sign that his views on Roman Catholic doctrine had changed. But, he wrote, “we are facing an inevitable and culture-determining decision on the three issues centrally identified in this statement. I also believe that we will experience a significant loss of Christian churches, denominations, and institutions in this process. There is every good reason to believe that the freedom to conduct Christian ministry according to Christian conviction is being subverted and denied before our eyes.”9

The concluding paragraph of the Declaration’s first section is explicit in saying that its purpose is to unify and mobilize the Christian Right: “We are Christians who have joined together across historic lines of ecclesial differences to affirm our right—and, more importantly, to embrace our obligation—to speak and act in defense of these truths. We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence.”

The Christian Right sees the times as dire indeed. The Manhattan Declaration’s integrated approach to abortion, marriage, and religious liberty is designed to unite key leaders of major factions around common arguments and to function as a catalyst for political renewal.10

The ties that bind

Indeed, the Declaration’s three-part formula emerged as a central feature of the movement in the 2012 election season. It was taken up by the Roman Catholic bishops, as well as the major political organizations of the traditional, evangelically oriented Christian Right. The Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, used it in his convention acceptance speech. And it promises to be the way that the Christian Right frames its common platform for the foreseeable future.

Shortly before the 2012 election, in a homily titled “Godless Secularism Assaults Life and Liberty,” Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who chairs the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), described the profound relationship between the three issues of the Declaration. Lori claimed that godless secularism led to the legalization of abortion—and that this, in turn, is a source of wider threats to religious liberty.11

Lori’s claim rests on the idea that those who favor reproductive choice and marriage equality are non-religious or anti-religious, and thus are prepared to trample the religious liberty of everyone. Yet many major religious bodies were prochoice even prior to Roe vs. Wade. The mainline Presbyterian Church (USA), for example, became officially prochoice three years before Roe. And major branches of Judaism, along with several mainline Protestant denominations, are affiliated with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.12

Similarly, the Declarationists argue that marriage is given by God, not by government. They consider it a violation of the religious freedom of both individuals and institutions to be required to recognize the equality of LGBTQ persons in legal marriages, and to treat these marriages as the equivalent of heterosexual marriages. They deny the intention of imposing their views on anyone—even as the Declaration itself tries to impose a religious view of marriage by force of law, and even as many mainline Protestant churches have recognized same-sex marriages for years.13 (In 2005, the United Church of Christ became the first Protestant denomination to affirm marriage equality; it began ordaining openly gay ministers in the early 1970s.) The Declaration, in other words, proposes a form of theocratic Dominionism—the antithesis of religious freedom.14

Marriage equality: a bridge too far

Cardinal Dolan led some of the original Declarationists in setting the tone for the election-year politics of 2012. In an “Open Letter,” Dolan and his cohorts wrote that marriage and religious liberty “stand or fall together.” They urged support for “laws that uphold the time-honored definition of marriage, and so avoid threatening the religious freedom of countless institutions and citizens in this country.”

“By a single stroke,” they wrote, “every law where rights depend on marital status—such as employment discrimination, employment benefits, adoption, education, healthcare, elder care, housing, property, and taxation—will change so that same-sex sexual relationships must be treated as if they were marriage.”15

This argument was fleshed out further in a March 2013 Heritage Foundation paper, which argued that the main concern is not that same-sex couples will marry in religious ceremonies, but that others will be required to recognize the civil rights of LGBTQ couples as a matter of law. According to the author, this constitutes a systemic violation of the religious liberty of those who hold traditional views of marriage.16

Christian Right leaders knew that it might come to this, and they have necessarily taken the long view, even as some others have viewed the battle as lost—and therefore an ever-lowering priority. Eric Teetsel, the 29-year-old executive director of the Manhattan Declaration, epitomizes the ambivalence of many Christian conservatives who have recently had to consider the possible inevitability of marriage equality as a matter of national policy and law—and the changes it would mean for the viability of their overall “biblical worldview.” Teetsel told the New York Times that, far from feeling defeated, he thinks that the Christian Right is going to win many current same-sex marriage supporters back. Yet he also had to consider what it might mean to lose the national legal and political battle.

“Even if we are doomed,” he said, “and I’m totally naïve, I think it’s important that I do this work anyway… If what I believe is true is true, then I’ve got a responsibility to be on its side for as long as I can be.”

Similarly, a young analyst at the Heritage Foundation concedes that the short-term outlook is grim, but he believes there is still cause for hope: “If you take the longer view of history—I’m not talking just 15 years, I’m talking 40 years or even 100 years—I can’t help but think that the uniqueness of man-woman marriage will be adjudicated over time.”17

The gathering storm over “religious liberty”

While defending “religious liberty” has been most publicly associated with conservative evangelical Protestants, it has been a major concern of conservative Catholics as well. Catholics were forced to struggle in the nineteenth century against many features of the dominant cultural Protestantism in public schools, and they fought to set up private Catholic schools. In the twentieth century, part of the fight involved the degree of entanglement between church and state in the use of public funds for private religious schools.

The Vatican’s current view of the U.S. situation came in the form of a public letter to the Knights of Columbus in 2012. Cardinal Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, said that “there is an effort to redefine and restrict the religious liberty of the Church,” and he darkly characterized “these new threats to the Church’s liberty and public moral witness” as matters of “unprecedented gravity.”18

The question of the rights of individuals to discriminate, based on rights of conscience, came up the day after the 2012 elections. The leading legal network of the Christian Right’s evangelical wing, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF, formerly known as the Alliance Defense Fund) issued legal memos for the three states—Maine, Maryland, and Washington—in which voters had passed referenda that made marriage equality the law. ADF claimed that the relevant public employees—for example, municipal and county clerks responsible for issuing marriage licenses—are not required to do so if it violates their religious beliefs, and may delegate the responsibility to a subordinate.19

Whatever the merits of these claims, the episode illustrates one way the Christian Right has contingency plans for carrying on the fight in a world in which marriage equality and broad LGTBQ civil rights are the law. (The ADF says it will provide legal assistance to help protect the First Amendment rights of public employees who refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses.)

In a 2012 video about the meaning of citizenship for Catholics, Cardinal Dolan said that “the Catholic Church has a very important role to play in the political life of the nation.” He then quoted directly from the USCCB’s Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: “The United States guarantees the right of individual believers and religious bodies to participate and to speak out without government interference, favoritism, or discrimination.”20

While the history of “religious bodies” and their relationship to government and individuals is complicated, Dolan and the bishops are engaging in a sly false equivalence—one that has immediate relevance to the rights of religious bodies to discriminate against same-sex marriages. Contrary to their assertion, the individual’s rights of conscience and those of institutions have never been considered equal.21

That distinction is increasingly relevant beyond the marriage-equality front. It is important, for example, in the Right’s attempts to thwart implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Businesses owned by religious people have objected to the ACA’s mandates regarding contraception coverage. Notably, Hobby Lobby—a retail chain owned by evangelical Christians—has requested a court injunction against the ACA’s requirement that it cover emergency contraceptives for its employees.

A lower court declined to let the case go forward, on the basis that the suit had little chance of success. Hobby Lobby appealed the decision, and in June 2013, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Denver, overturned the original dismissal of the case, sending it back to the lower court for a ruling. In doing so, the 10th Circuit Court agreed that it is reasonable for Hobby Lobby to argue that corporations have the same rights of conscience as an individual under federal law.22 The case still has a long way to go, and it may very well end up in the Supreme Court.

Christian Right pastor Rick Warren predicts an epic cultural and political battle on this front, claiming that in the Hobby Lobby case, the government is trying to reinterpret the First Amendment “from freedom to PRACTICE [sic] your religion, to a more narrow freedom to worship, which would limit your freedom to the hour a week you are at a house of worship.” This, he added, is not only a subversion of the Constitution, “it is nonsense,” because “any religion that cannot be lived out … at home and work, is nothing but a meaningless ritual.” He predicts that “the battle to preserve religious liberty for all, in all areas of life, will likely become the civil rights movement of this decade.”23

What would Bonhoeffer do?

In addition to the antichoice and antigay principles set forth in the Manhattan Declaration, an important binding element in the evangelical-Catholic alliance is a shared, growing sense that the Christian Right may be forced to defend itself with more than just words.

The signers of the Declaration cast themselves as patriots challenging “tyranny” in the tradition of the American Revolution and as warriors for social justice. While laying claim to the mantle of the Revolution is not new or unique to this group, the Declaration has ratcheted up the seriousness with which Christian Right leaders are treating the nature of the confrontation. “We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s,” they conclude. “But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.”24

Revolutionary rhetoric that goes beyond civil disobedience to suggest violence is now routine among prominent conservative religious and political leaders. In 2012, a rising star of the Christian Right, evangelical author Eric Metaxas, spoke at a Washington, D.C., bookstore operated by the arch-conservative Roman Catholic order Opus Dei. (A few weeks earlier, Metaxas had been the keynote speaker at the annual National Prayer Breakfast, hosted by the secretive evangelical network, The Family.)25 President Obama, as has been the tradition for U.S. presidents, also spoke. In his bookstore presentation, Metaxas compared proposed federal regulations regarding contraception coverage in employer-insurance packages to Nazi-era legislation in Germany.

Metaxas is a best-selling biographer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German anti-Nazi theologian, and he warned that the plight of conservative Christians “is so oddly similar to where Bonhoeffer found himself” early in the Nazi era. “If we don’t fight now,” Metaxas warned, “if we don’t really use all our bullets now, we will have no fight five years from now. It’ll be over . . . We’ve got to die on this hill. Most people say, oh no, this isn’t serious enough. It’s just this little issue. But it’s the millimeter . . . it’s that line that we cross. I’m sorry to say that I see these parallels. I really wish I didn’t.”26

Leaders of the Christian Right are increasingly drawing such parallels and encouraging followers to consider how they should respond. Manhattan Declaration co-author Timothy George explained in 2012, for example, that the authors of the Declaration drew inspiration from a group of Protestants in Germany in 1934, who swore their allegiance to Jesus Christ, “whom we are to trust and whom we are to obey in life and in death. It was a way of saying we will not go along with the usurpation of human rights and Christian commitment that Hitler was calling for at that time.”27

These examples, two of many that could be cited, suggest that key leaders of the Christian Right see the federal government as increasingly tyrannical and oppressive, and are at least experimenting with a more militant style of resistance. This is not merely about rhetoric, which can be dismissed as transitory political posturing. Rather, it is about underlying beliefs, which are the root of long-term political divisions and conflict. You can’t meaningfully dialog or collaborate with a “persecutor” or “tyrant.” But you can figure out how to fight back, while conserving as much as possible of what you hold dear.

The Christian Right, stung by recent losses in the culture war, is publicly doubling down on its antichoice and antigay positions. Evangelicals and Roman Catholics have found common ground—and the motivation to set aside centuries of sectarian conflict—by focusing on these issues while claiming that their “religious liberty” is about to be crushed. The movement is mobilizing its resources, forging new alliances, and girding itself to engage its enemies. It is also giving fair warning about its intentions. It may lose the long-term war, but whatever happens, one thing is certain: It won’t go down without a fight.

The Manhattan Declaration builds on many years of effort to unite Christian conservatives as a hegemonic force at the center of American cultural and political life. Perhaps the most significant antecedent was led by neoconservative Catholic priest John Neuhaus and the late Charles Colson, who spearheaded a predecessor manifesto, Evangelicals and Catholics Together, which was published in 1994.

“Where Evangelicals and Catholics are in severe and sometimes violent conflict, such as parts of Latin America,” they wrote, “we urge Christians to embrace and act upon the imperative of religious freedom. Religious freedom will not be respected by the state if it is not respected by Christians or, even worse, if Christians attempt to recruit the state in repressing religious freedom.”28 This led to further dialog and a “clarification” in 1998. The signers included two of the three authors of the 2009 Manhattan Declaration: Colson and Timothy George of Beeson Divinity School.29

Another influential antecedent was created in 1996 by a group of mostly Roman Catholic neocons affiliated with the neoconservative journal First Things. Alarmed by recent Supreme Court decisions involving separation of church and state, and by a decision that reaffirmed Roe v. Wade, they published a special issue of the journal. In it, Roman Catholic neoconservatives joined with conservative evangelicals in denouncing the federal judiciary as “tyrants” and declaring that religious freedom was under attack. They also proclaimed that the end of democracy as they knew it (or wished it to be) was at hand—and that civil resistance, perhaps revolution, might be in order.30

The special issue was deeply controversial, even within neoconservative circles. For some, this was not conservatism so much as theocratic bluster. Damon Linker, a former editor of First Things, wrote a book about his break with this group, whom he called “theocons.” Linker predicted that if public opinion went against them, they would resort to the use of political authority to get their way.31 The observation appears increasingly prophetic.


2 See Frederick Clarkson, The Culture Wars Are Not Over: The Institutionalization of the Christian Right, The Public Eye, Spring 2001.

3 See Frederick Clarkson, “A Tale of Three Speeches about Separation of Church and State,” Truthout, January 24, 2012.

4 “Mohler Calls Catholicism ‘False Church,’” The Baptist Standard, April 3, 2000.

5 Peter Smith, Albert Mohler: Lutheran body ‘not a church,’ Louisville, June 6, 2013.

6 John L. Allen, “Exclusive Claim,” National Catholic Reporter Online, September 15, 2000, and Edmund Doogue and Stephen Brown, “Vatican Statement on salvation is a `public relations disaster’ for ecumenism,Ecumenical News Service, September 15, 2000.

7 See Max Blumenthal, “Princeton Tilts Right,” The Nation, February 23, 2006; Frank Cocozzelli, “George of the Neocon Jungle — Part I,” Talk to Action, November 3, 2007; Frank Cocozzelli, George of the Neocon Jungle, Part II,” Talk to Action, November 10, 2007; Frank L. Cocozzelli, “How Roman Catholic Neocons Peddle Natural Law into Debates about Life and Death,” The Public Eye, Summer 2008; Frank L. Cocozzelli, “The Politics of Schism in the Catholic Church,” The Public Eye, Fall 2009.

8 See Frederick Clarkson, “Rev. Samuel Rodriguez: Not So Moderate,” The Public Eye, Fall 2012.

9 Albert Mohler, “Why I Signed the Manhattan Declaration,”, November 23, 2009.

10 Inspired by their American counterparts, the nascent Christian Right of Great Britain launched Westminster 2010: Declaration of Christian Conscience as a unifying statement of principles. It was signed by high- ranking church leaders and leaders of activist groups, focusing on abortion, marriage, and freedom of conscience.

11 Archbishop William Lori, “Godless Secularism Assaults Life and Liberty,” National Catholic Register, October 15, 2012. Lori chairs the USCCB’s Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty.

12 See “Member Organizations,” Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

13 The United Church of Christ also signed onto amicus briefs in two marriage-related cases: Hollingsworth v. Perry and Windsor v. United States.

14 I defined dominionism for an article in The Public Eye: “Dominionists celebrate Christian nationalism, in that they believe that the United States once was, and should once again be, a Christian nation. In this way, they deny the Enlightenment roots of American democracy. Dominionists promote religious supremacy, insofar as they generally do not respect the equality of other religions, or even other versions of Christianity. Dominionists endorse theocratic visions, insofar as they believe that the Ten Commandments, or “biblical law,” should be the foundation of American law, and that the U.S. Constitution should be seen as a vehicle for implementing Biblical principles.” See Frederick Clarkson, “The Rise of Dominionism: Remaking America as a Christian Nation,” The Public Eye, Winter 2005.

15 “Marriage and Religious Freedom: Fundamental Goods That Stand or Fall Together, “An Open Letter from Religious Leaders in the United States to All Americans,” January 11, 2012. Prominent signatories mentioned in this essay included Timothy Dolan, Leith Anderson, Samuel Rodriguez, and William Lori.

16 Ryan T. Anderson, Marriage: What It Is, Why It Matters, and the Consequences of Redefining It,” Heritage Foundation, March 11, 2013. Anderson is a coauthor, with Robert P. George and Sherif Girgis, of What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense (Encounter Books, 2012).

17 Ashley Parker, “Young Opponents of Gay Marriage Undaunted by Battle Ahead,” The New York Times, March 20, 2013.

18 Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, Letter to Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight, Knights of Columbus, July 19, 2012.

19 Ann Carroll, “Gays Can’t Force Christian Clerks to Issue Same-Sex License,” Charisma, November 16, 2012.

20Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Participating in Faithful Citizenship,” Videos for Faithful Citizenship, USCCB, 2012.

21 For a fuller discussion of the Christian Right and the uses of the “religious liberty” argument, see the recent report by Political Research Associates: Jay Michaelson, “Redefining Religious Liberty: The Covert Campaign Against Civil Rights,” 2013.

22 Jessica Mason Pieklo, “Court Rules Hobby Lobby Can Be Considered a Religious ‘Person,’” RH Reality Check, June 27, 2013.

23 Anugrah Kumar, “Hobby Lobby Delays Obamacare Fines for Now; Avoids $18.2 Million Penalty,” The Christian Post, January 14, 2013.

24 Robert P. George, Timothy George, and Chuck Colson, The Manhattan Declaration, November 20, 2009. For more on developments in the new Catholic/evangelical alliance from an insider’s perspective, see Keith Fournier, “Why I Addressed the Awakening Conference and Why I Stand with the Freedom Federation,” Catholic Online, April 20, 2013. Fournier is the editor of Catholic Online and a former leading legal and political figure in the Christian Right.

25 Jeff Sharlet, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power (Harper Collins, 2008).

26 Frederick Clarkson, “God is My Co-Belligerent: Avatar Priests, Hijacked Theologians, and Other Figures of Right-Wing Revolt,” Religion Dispatches, July 23, 2012. Metaxas’s comparison of the current political situation to the early German era provoked strong rebuttals from Christians across theological spectrum. In a review of the Bonhoeffer biography, one evangelical wrote that Metaxas “simply does not have sufficient grounding in history, theology, and philosophy to properly interpret Bonhoeffer.” See Richard Weikart, “Metaxas’s Counterfeit Bonhoeffer: An Evangelical Critique,” Richard Weikart homepage, California State University, Stanislaus. See also Clifford Green, “Hijacking Bonhoeffer,” Christian Century, Oct. 5, 2010.

28 Charles Colson, Richard John Neuhaus, et al, Evangelicals & Catholics Together:  The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium,” First Things, May 1994.

29 Richard John Neuhaus, et al., “The Gift of Salvation,” First Things, January 1998. The clarification discussion was largely over one of the historic differences between Protestantism and Catholicism, sola fida, or justification by faith.

30 Damon Linker, The Theocons:  Secular America Under Siege (Doubleday, 2006), 90-110.

31 Linker, Theocons, 106-107.


Frederick Clarkson, a Senior Research Analyst at Political Research Associates, has written about politics and religion for more than three decades. He is the author of Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy and editor of Dispatches from the Religious Left: The Future of Faith and Politics in America. Follow him on Twitter at @FredClarkson.