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The Long Southern StrategyHow Chasing White Voters in the South Changed American Politics$
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Angie Maxwell and Todd Shields

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190265960

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190265960.001.0001

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The Myth of the Social Conservative

The Myth of the Social Conservative

Chapter:
(p.287) 9 The Myth of the Social Conservative
Source:
The Long Southern Strategy
Author(s):

Angie Maxwell

Todd Shields

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190265960.003.0010

The relationship between the GOP and the Christian Right became so fundamental to the party’s success that Republicans constantly had to maintain a sense of urgency regarding the country’s moral compass. Moreover, to retain the loyalty of southern white religious voters, the GOP not only prioritized social conservative policy issues like gay marriage, but it also repackaged “secular” issues regarding the environment, the economy, and even war as issues of religious-political concern. By doing so, the GOP created a religious-partisan brand that dissolved denominational differences, overcame third-party challenges from Christian Right leaders, and softened the Christian authenticity litmus test for candidates. To that end, the religiosity of the contemporary GOP is not solely a reflection of the rising saliency of moral issues; rather, via the Long Southern Strategy, almost every issue became part of the evangelical cosmology in a spirit of Christian nationalism inherent in southern white identity.

Keywords:   Christian Right, social conservatism, Christian nationalism, secularism, religious authenticity, 2012 election, 2016 election, Christian Fundamentalism, biblical literalism, foreign policy

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