The true origins of the religious right and why it matters, with Professor Randall Balmer


The true origins of the religious right, and why it matters

Randall Balmer

PhD’85, Princeton University
John Phillips Professor of Religion, Dartmouth College

The religious right is flexing its mighty muscles these days; in the past month alone, they won the right to pray in school, forced public funding of religious institutions and repealed a half-century-old right of choice for women. The tradition of separation of church and state adopted by our founding fathers appears to be in grave danger. How did we get to this difficult situation?

One of the most enduring myths in recent history is the fiction that the religious right galvanized as a political movement in response to Roe v. Wade of the 1973 Supreme Court. Evangelicals, however, viewed abortion as a Catholic issue throughout the 1970s. Most evangelicals remained silent when the Roe decision was issued, and those who commented have in applauded the decision. The true origins of the religious right may surprise you.

Professor Randall Balmer, a world-renowned authority on the subject, will explore the American evangelical movement from the first great revival to its latest and most disturbing reincarnation in the late 1970s. Balmer will explain why the nature of their new rise in power should give us all pause on what might be next.

Time will be allocated for questions and answers.


Randall Balmer was Professor of Religion in North America at Columbia University for twenty-seven years before joining Dartmouth College in 2012, where he is John Phillips Professor of Religion. He has been a visiting professor at Princeton, Yale, Northwestern and Emory universities and at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was a visiting professor at Yale Divinity School from 2004 to 2008.


He is the author of eighteen books, including Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter and, more recently, Bad Faith: Race and the Rise of the Religious Right. His commentaries on religion in America appear in newspapers across the country, including the Los Angeles Timesthe Washington Postthe Monks Registerthe Philadelphia plaintiffthe Tuning Monitor and the Santa Fe New Mexican. He is currently working on a biography of Mark O. Hatfield.

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