The Man Who Mobilized The Evangelical Vote | AJ+

This is the story of the man who helped turn conservative evangelicals into a political force. I want to talk a little bit about how much our family respects and admires Paul Weyrich… I want to be like Paul Weyrich when I grow up. Paul Weyrich has been called the main architect of the religious right. Here he is in 2005. Those people were not active in politics, and I served as sort of a a coach to get them active in the political process. He also co-founded conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and the Free Congress Foundation. And he managed to galvanize the evangelical vote around a man who wasn’t even an evangelical. God bless America. Thank you. Does that feel familiar? Because a similar thing happened in 2016 with the election of President Donald Trump. Two corinthians, Two corinthians 3:17. That’s the whole ball game. Is that the one? Is that the one you like? I think that’s the one you like, ‘cause I loved it. Hey fam, I’m Imaeyen, and this Sunday we’re going to look at the man behind the evangelical political movement – and how it wasn’t abortion that created the religious right in the United States. You might have been told that the movement began with Roe v Wade, but according to Randall Balmer, a religious historian, it actually began with Paul Weyrich. One of the most cherished myths of the religious right is that this is a movement that got its origins in reaction to the Roe v. Wade decision. It’s a great story. It’s been repeated many, many times. It is also utter fiction. It was Weyrich’s calculated effort that made the religious right a political force, and his plan took years to complete. Conservatives were wandering around lost in the liberal wilderness. And then Paul Weyrich came to Washington. When Weyrich arrived in Washington, DC in the late 1960s he was to the right of more liberal Republicans, which made him a minority in his own party. Back then, the worlds of religion and politics were largely separate. But Weyrich was determined to change that by courting white Evangelicals. The group had retreated from politics after the so-called “Scopes Monkey Trial” in 1925, which really centered around teaching evolution in schools. Not only did the white evangelicals lose, but they also were humiliated in the public eye. Paul Weyrich, according to his own account, had been trying since the 1964 presidential campaign to get evangelicals active in politics. He tried everything. He said he tried the school prayer issue, he tried the abortion issue, he tried pornography. In the end, Weyrich landed on school segregation in the South. Some carried a doll in a miniature coffin – an effigy of Federal Judge J. Skelly Wright, who ordered the admission of five Negro girls to [inaudible] in New Orleans last week. And I have to give you a bit of backstory first, so please stay with me. In 1970, public schools in seven states were racially segregated. This was over a decade and a half after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregated schools were unconstitutional with its Brown v. Board of Education decision. Mississippi was one of the states fighting hardest against integration. State leaders claimed that their “freedom of choice” system allowed black children to attend white schools. In reality, black families were subject to intimidation if they tried to enroll.
And some white families were so opposed to integration that they abandoned public schools altogether. In Holmes County, Mississippi, there were no white students left in the public school system just two years after desegregation. So where were they all going? Well, between 1966 and 1970 the percentage of private schools in the state rose, and the number of students attending those schools tripled. Most of this growth occurred in black-majority districts. There were segregation academies — church-sponsored, that were applying for tax-exempt status. Then, in 1969, a group of African-American parents in Holmes County sued the Treasury Department to prevent three new segregation academies from getting that tax-exempt status. And they won. The court ruled that any organization that engages in racial segregation, or racial discrimination, is not by definition a charitable institution. The following year, President Richard Nixon ordered the IRS to enact new policy denying tax exemptions to all segregated schools. In 1971, the Green v. Connally district court case ruling upheld the new IRS policy. And evangelical leaders didn’t like it, which is where Paul Weyrich re-enters our story. Paul Weyrich finally found the issue would get the attention of people like
Jerry Falwell ,who had his own segregation academy in Lynchburg,
Virginia, Bob Jones Jr., Bob Jones University; and a broader array of evangelical leaders. Weyrich and Falwell managed to shift the grounds of the debate. They turned it into a conversation about government interference and religious freedom, instead of what it really was: a defense of racist policies. They used the issue to attack Democratic president and evangelical Jimmy Carter even though it was Republican President Nixon who came down hard on segregation academies. Bob Jones University lost its tax exemption a year and a day before Carter was inaugurated. So Weyrich had figured out how to win over evangelical leaders. But to win elections, he still needed an issue to get grassroots evangelical voters to the polls. He realized that defending racial discrimination might not be it. Now this is where the abortion debate comes in. Here’s Falwell in 1982. It began in January of ’73, when Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade ruled abortion legal on demand. But pause. Balmer says evangelical leaders didn’t pursue abortion as an issue right away. Jerry Falwell, by his own admission, did not preach against abortion until February of 1978, more than five years after the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. The key moment for abortion comes in the 1978 midterm elections. Weyrich then resolved that he would go out and elect some improbable people. Weyrich threw all his effort into getting anti-abortion Republican candidates elected in Minnesota and Iowa. The final weekend of the campaign, pro-lifers leafletted church parking lots. And two days later, in an election with a very low turnout, all four Democratic nominees lost to pro-life Republicans. That’s when Weyrich realized abortion was an issue he could use to bring evangelicals to the polls, and maybe even turn them against one of their own – President Jimmy Carter. Before he was elected, Jimmy Carter was a Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher. And what does the Lord require of thee but to do justly and to love mercy… He embodied the idea of progressive evangelicalism and won the presidential election in 1976. In 1979, Falwell created a group called the Moral Majority – but the term was actually coined by Weyrich. The Moral Majority declared war on abortion and homosexuality. Then the group enlisted the help of Francis A. Schaeffer. Schaeffer worked with C. Everett Koop to produce a series of films called Whatever Happened to the Human Race, and toured the country screening them for evangelical audiences. Here’s what the films looked like. The fact that human life is being devaluated is demonstrated by some of the major issues which are being debated by society today: abortion, infanticide, euthanasia. And as that series of films begins to travel and circulate across North America, evangelicals become finely attuned to the abortion issue in advance of the 1980 presidential campaign. Ronald Reagan courted conservative evangelicals. And he won their support, despite the fact that he signed a bill making it easier for women to have abortions back when he was the governor of California. Here he is, employing explicitly religious language in his acceptance speech: Can we begin our crusade joined together in a moment of silent prayer? Reagan is a man who wasn’t even a regular church attendee. Yet during his presidential campaign, he spoke to 10,000 evangelicals at a rally in Dallas, Texas. He talked about the “unconstitutional regulatory agenda” directed by the IRS “against independent schools” AKA segregation academies. He mentions creationism, he also mentions the IRS going after the tax-exempt status of segregation academies. He does not mention abortion in the course of that speech. So even as late as August 1980, the Republican Party was not sure that abortion would work for them as a political issue. Listen, there are a number of reasons Reagan won the election. But he very well might have tapped into something that Trump and Steve Bannon utilized decades later. In the 2016 election, 81% of white evangelicals voted for Donald Trump, a man who, at least on the face of it, does does not seem to be a logical representative for family values. Evangelicals have been able to persuade, at least themselves, that they are victims of some sort of religious discrimination. Christianity, it’s under siege. Balmer also says there are parallels between the beginnings of the religious right and the rhetoric that Donald Trump used during his presidential campaign. The 2016 election allowed the religious right finally to circle back to the founding principles of their movement, and the founding principles, sadly enough, are racism and racial segregation. Hey guys, thanks so much for watching. Don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. And if you want to learn more about evangelicals in the United States, check out the piece we did on evangelicals of color, and the fact they’re totally excluded from the news media’s narrative. Join us next Sunday for another awesome video. Bye!

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  1. Funny how Likud and Hamas share so much in common both started as right-wing political militias that used violence to advance their political ideology.

  2. Maybe instead of complaining about Saudi Arabia and other religious theocraties, Americans ought to pay more attention to the theocrats within their own government and political scene. I mean, when even a complete degenerate and obvious nontheist like Donald Trump is able to get the religious right to support him, you know something is wrong.

  3. The receipt for the ugly to gets its claws into the constitution, was a creation of the Big Big Lie
    And The Lovers Of The Big Big Lie.

    Then the sheeple could buy their fancy world, while the country and the lovers of the Big Big Lie believe that their GOD is happy with them in their fancy world of Suffering onto the lives, outa sight and outa mind.

  4. “The civil government functions with complete success by the total separation of the Church from the State.”
    ~Founding Father James Madison, 1819, Writings, 8:432, quoted from Gene Garman, “Essays In Addition to America’s Real Religion”

  5. people are idiots when they think that they are voting for someone one that reads a scripture out of the bible or mentions god and they think they are religious. people need to do their research and find out for themselves who this person is and what they represent

  6. Interesting.

    Though, even as an Atheist, I would still state Christianity is under siege.

    Don't believe me…
    I'll burn a Bible & post it on YouTube…. Nothing will happen. Some will even cheer.

    I'll burn a Qur'an & post it on YouTube…. If I'm not murdered in the streets, I'll be called a Islamophobe, a racist, a evil person, possibly arrested, abuse, & shunned from 'SECULAR' society.

  7. Do a video about 'psychopathy '. It's real. It's common. It's obvious. No one discusses in any scientific way

  8. All the religions are corrupted including politics but Jesus offers salvation that's why the world is corrupt but Jesus came to save The Sinner not righteous no one is perfect only god is perfect

  9. Including the government authorities presidents and the people are not perfect there are sinners in this world Jesus has nothing to do with politics in his eyes
    Because in his eyes they are corrupted politics and religion

  10. Oh the right wing.. lying, stealing, murderous phonies who use religion as a means to an end. What was isis known for?…

  11. when enough Americans became so stupid they could no longer think for themselves, the religious right was born, not surprisingly, in the south.

  12. Because you're possibly Islamic I need to explain this to you. As a southern baptist, we do not describe ourselves as Evangelical. Evangelical is one of those terms that is nondescript, it's a catch-all for Christian denominations.

  13. You do you do understand what the religious right tapped into in the South in 1964 would later be known as the southern strategy.

    And without the religious right Ronald Reagan never would have been elected president. Because of the religious right this is where we get the political term [neocon] it simply means new conservative. Before Ronald Reagan, under Barry Goldwater, the Republicans took a vow to never Court any Special Interest groups, that only changed when Reagan ran for president.

  14. Some of the most ethnically and racially diverse evangelical churches are in New Jersey. African, Chinese, European, Indian, Filipino, Guatemalan, Egyptian, Brazilian = all under same roof every Sunday.

    You don't see that diversity in mosques, synagogues or hindu temples.

  15. Totally aside from race issues, there's still a lot of people whos "good preachers" tell them that America should follow the dictates of God, in effect have the Church be a kind of fourth branch of government. The logical conclusion to this is to have the USA (or at least the Bible Belt) become the Christian version of Iran. That country does have semi-competitive elections, but the religious clerics have to approve the candidates that run. Most Evangelicals don't think in these terms because they tend to be trapped by tradition and convention, but that is the logical conclusion of their positions nevertheless.

  16. It is the biggest irony when a black protect the Christian faith it is like a Jew protecting Hitler and the Nazi party. Hitler being Jesus and the party being God. oh I get it now white supremacist

  17. Yep when Russia needed to destroy the country from within they chose right. Funny how religious rant about chrstan morals. Christianity exists only to deny and take rights away from others. It's a hate group peroid

  18. Evangelicals have been played by the neoliberals in the GOP. The corporate agenda has been delivered (eg tax cuts, privatisation and lots of war) but the social conservative issues have not. Eg abortion or gay rights. Totally played.

  19. This is revisionist history, which started as Randall Balmer's fantasy, and has been happily spread by enemies of religious conservatives. There are grains of truth, as in any propaganda piece, but the overall narrative is a lie. The truth, as usual, is more complicated. If you are open-minded to another viewpoint, read either (or both) of these articles:

  20. More evidence that conservatism and racism are joined like conjoined twins. They feed off each other. Disgusting.

  21. Áve María, grátia pléna, Dóminus técum.
    Benedícta tū in muliéribus, et benedíctus frúctus véntris túi, Iésus.
    Sáncta María, Máter Déi, óra pro nóbis peccatóribus, nunc et in hóra mórtis nóstrae.

  22. …I’m an ex-evangelical. Thanks for documenting the history/development of Evangelical politics. I saved this in my favorites folder.

  23. I was there at the very roots of Christian Fundamentalism from 1973 – 1980. There was NO KNOWLEDGE of abortion prior to 1980. That was a Catholic thing and Fundies couldn't care less about Caltholics back then.

  24. You're skipping over the efforts of the Reconstructivist Movement in the mid-century and the work of Jesse Helms.

  25. I'm sure this channel suuport Islam and illegal immigrants 😂😂 didn't even had to watch more than one video.

  26. I have written about opposition to extremes of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion because (a) it really means the opposite, and (b) modern liberal arts colleges are hardly hotbeds of racial discrimination or white supremacy.

    However THIS STORY is one clear example of systemic racial hated and bias, purposeful racial segregation in schools.

  27. Check out the documentary film by D'Souza entitled "Hillary's America" and you discover that racism has always been a hallmark of the KKK entrenched left…NOT THE RIGHT as touted by the drive-by media!

  28. The Evangelicals sold their souls to the devil when they voted for Trump. They traded the timeless values of the Bible for temporal political power and conservative Supreme Court judges, two things that Jesus never asked Christians to do.

    "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." -Matthew 5:13

  29. You talk with acid dripping from your words about conservative Christians being politicized yet you don’t have a problem with conservative Muslims being politicized. Are you aware that conservative Muslims are very hostile to gay rights and women’s sexual liberation??

  30. I do not doubt the history but the idea that this group is racist today is very wrong. You can find countless main stream evangelical denominations condemn racism and racists. Also issuing apologies for racism in their own denominations.

  31. The Religious Right nowadays has moved away from embracing the love of Jesus. They are more interested in hating other religions except what they consider their moral litmus test. Is it any wonder why more folks are turning to the independent churches that do not preach hate and judgement?

  32. I have doubts about the accuracy of much of this video. I have no idea who AJ+ is. But, I think it's worth investigating.

  33. Good documentary, why inject the Trump derangement syndrome, totally irrelevant not sequitur… Please stop calling half the country racist, this is actually the bigger reason that Trump won, and will win again in 2020 as the new corporate regressive left moves even more towards the wiggen pier socialists. I had a dream that everyone woke up and couldn't see color anymore, that would be a tragedy of epic proportions for people who entire existence is predicated on fighting against racists ( notice I didn't say racism). It's time to stop calling people racist, obviously, not one person has acted in a better manner due to smug SJW virtue signaling condescension.

  34. Only thing I will point out is the documentary seemed spot on for the most part save the very last scene. Surprisingly Evangelicals at least when polled have more sympathy for immigrants then your average Republican voter, it's just a case that issue is secondary to years of being beat over the head how Liberals want to change everything for the worse and we need conservative judges(and buy into the idea that God for some reason was pro gun and wants less taxes and regulations). In general the anti immigrant/wall faction generally are somewhat religious but not as dedicated as your hard core evangelical, poorer and less educated.

    I think this is a problem when you try group a bunch of people into one category when 4 or 5 categories would make more sense. On the flip side the anti immigration side probably don't put as much stock into abortion as your hard core evangelical

    Nine out of 10 (86 percent) want more border security. Six in 10 (61 percent) support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. More than two-thirds (68 percent) favor both. And they want Congress to take action soon.

  35. And today many evangelicals supported Trump's Charlottesville remarks. The Poway synagogue shooter went to the same predominantly white evangelical church I did.

    And they aren't denouncing Trump and this rise of white nationalist terrorism.

    These shooters are using the same verbiage as 45.

  36. Evangelicals are fake, that is why we never hear about other branches of Christianity in the Republican party. Has anybody heard of Republican Methodists, Lutheran or otherwise? Of course not!

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