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God's Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right Hardcover – October 4, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1St Edition edition (October 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195340841
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195340846
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,142,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Preachers, declared an impassioned Jerry Falwell in 1965, are not called to be politicians but to be soul winners. The historical irony in these words is particularly evident to Williams, who recounts how Falwell and other Evangelical preachers became power brokers within the Republican Party. What may surprise many readers, though, is how conservative Protestants began inserting themselves into the nation’s political process as early as the 1920s and 1930s, trying to use the platforms of both parties to combat cultural liberalism, and then more effectively pressing a bipartisan anticommunism in the 1950s. But Williams highlights a decisive turn in the late 1960s, when celebrity evangelist Billy Graham threw his support behind the shrewdly opportunistic Richard Nixon. Analysis of the 1970s reveals how social controversies—the ERA, the Pill, homosexual rights, abortion—intensified Evangelical commitment to the GOP. A more complex picture emerges in a concluding analysis showing younger Evangelicals discovering environmental and social-justice concerns. An essential resource for anyone trying to understand how religion affects American politics. --Bryce Christensen


I have long sought a book that would present the history of how the GOP became, in the mind of most conservative Christians, God s Own Party...This is the book I have been waiting for...For an interesting and objective history of the Christian Right, I highly recommend Williams book. --Laurence M. Vance, LewRockwell.com

"[T]his book is a needed addition to scholarship on the rise of the New Right."--Religious Studies Review

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Robin Orlowski on October 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book explains that the rise of an effective American political base cannot and does not happen overnight. It requires thankless decades of behind-the-scenes grassroots mobilization and behind-the-scenes negotiations.

As a liberal Democrat, I obviously disagree with many of the issues which the figureheads championed to rally their base supporters. I like the religious plurality which this country permits. I also want my GLBT friends to be able to marry and serve in the military without fear of persecution.

But I do respect the discipline which the GOP possess to keep these 'troops' working together in coalition blocks. Obviously realizing that they were not going to win everything in one candidate/election, the organizations and people of the Christian right intentionally then decided to go with the campaign who would provide the best arrangement for their immediate needs.

Apparently 'test driving' the 'honest' Jimmy Carter (yes, in the Democratic Party) the New Right experienced their first national success through the 1980 election of Ronald Reagan, who won through the courting of both free-market conservatives and social conservatives. And the 2000 campaign of George W. Bush further illustrated that the New Right's 'kingmaker' influence genuinely was inside the GOP.

Therefore, this book is less of a championing of the Christian Right. It is more of a scholarly/objective analysis of how to win elections--and reshape the American political system through the strategic alliances. It would even be essential reading for several of my colleagues. We could capture grassroots loyalties of our own through studying their techniques.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Wow! A history of hope, a history of despair. A history of victory, a history of defeat. A story of people with character rising up in great courage and conviction, and a story of people with few principles giving up and giving in. And as these histories and stories occur on both the political and religious sides, Daniel K. Williams writes a remarkable, well-documented narrative of the birth and rise of Christian involvement in politics in the 20th and 21st centuries in America.

Showing a mastery of historical facts in the political realm and even being able to distinguish between a fundamentalist and an evangelical in the Christian realm, Williams is clearly qualified to write about this subject with authority. And along with that authority he brings an amazing writing ability to continually engage the reader.

Regardless of your views of the Democratic or Republican party (or even if you have a distaste for a two-party system), this book will certainly educate you on American history with regards to Christian fundamentalism, Evangelicalism, and the political strategies employed by both Democrats and Republicans as they begin to recognize the importance of the Christian vote in today's America.

Some things in this book you may already know. Some things are sure to surprise you! Either way, Williams well articulates to all whether for good or for ill how the Grand Old Party became "God's Own Party" as the majority of born-again Christians have at some point (whether out of conscious choice or out of necessity) adopted the Republican party as their own, and how the Republican party (whether out of conscious choice or out of necessity) has adopted the "Christian Right" as their own(!).

Whatever the case, this is a compelling read for understanding the issue, and it deserves to be read by all those interested in this fascinating subject.
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Format: Hardcover
I find this subject fascinating, and Williams delivers much information that was new to me.

Williams doesn't create dramatic narratives from his historical research, which is fine by me since I'm a bit suspicious of the practice, but I imagine this might make it a bit dry for some readers. The facts-y approach also lends toward a neutral perspective (I might infer a note of disapproval for racial segregation, which might tiff off more conservative readers in the United States).

All in all a good first work. I would like to hear from other similarly-qualified historians on this subject.
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