The Rights Turn in Conservative Christian Politics

How Abortion Transformed the Culture Wars

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Andrew R. Lewis
Cambridge Studies in Social Theory, Religion and Politics
  • Cambridge, England: 
    Cambridge University Press
    , April
     291 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.
Review coming soon!

Review by Katherine Dugan forthcoming.


The Rights Turn in Conservative Christian Politics documents a recent, fundamental change in American politics with the waning of Christian America. Rather than conservatives emphasizing morality and liberals emphasizing rights, both sides now wield rights arguments as potent weapons to win political and legal battles and build grassroots support. Lewis documents this change on the right, focusing primarily on evangelical politics. Using extensive historical and survey data that compares evangelical advocacy and evangelical public opinion, Lewis explains how the prototypical culture war issue - abortion - motivated the conservative rights turn over the past half century, serving as a springboard for rights learning and increased conservative advocacy in other arenas. Challenging the way we think about the culture wars, Lewis documents how rights claims are used to thwart liberal rights claims, as well as to provide protection for evangelicals, whose cultural positions are increasingly in the minority; they have also allowed evangelical elites to justify controversial advocacy positions to their base and to engage more easily in broad rights claiming in new or expanded political arenas, from health care to capital punishment.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Andrew R. Lewis is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati. He researches the intersection of religion, law, and American politics. He contributes to FiveThirtyEight and other media outlets, and is currently Book Review Editor at the journal Politics and Religion.


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