Timeline: The Religious Right and the Republican Platform

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The Republican party platform of 1912 did not contain a single reference to God.

The word faith appeared once, in the phrase “faith in government.” A century later, the 2012 Republican platform contains 10 references to God and 19 to faith — in phrases like “faith-based organizations,” and “faith communities.” What changed?

The forty-year timeline below traces the increased inclusion in the platform of the language and ideals of the Religious Right.

1972 The Republican party platform does not contain a single reference to God or religious issues.

1976: first mention of abortion
1976 Following the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision, the Republican platform calls for “a position on abortion that values human life.” It also asserts that “Our great American Republic was founded on the principle: One nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.”

1980 A year after Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority, the Republican platform contains only one reference to God, but an entire section on abortion. While affirming the party’s “support of a constitutional amendment to restore protection of the right to life for unborn children” the section nonetheless recognizes that there are “differing views on this question among Americans in general—and in our own Party.”

A section on the judiciary reads, “We will work for the appointment of judges at all levels of the judiciary who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life.”

1984: first mention of sex and violence in the media
1984   Following James Dobson’s founding of the Family Research Council in 1983, issues like sex education and sex and violence in the media appear in the party platform for the first time. Regarding abortion, the platform calls for a “human life” amendment to the Constitution and “legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.” The platform also contains the first mention of school vouchers.

1988 This was the year that right-wing televangelist Pat Robertson was a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. In addition to the now-standard calls for a human life amendment and extending Fourteenth Amendment protections to unborn children, this platform promises to eliminate funding for organizations which advocate or support abortion, and for fetal protection in scientific research. The platform also contains an entire section on pornography.

1992: first mention of same-sex marriage and gays in the military
1992 The year of Pat Buchanan’s infamous “culture wars” convention speech, the party unveils a platform with four references to God and seven references to “family values.” This is the first Republican party platform to address sexual preference, opposing the inclusion of sexual preference as a protected minority, rejecting any legislation which legally recognizes same-sex marriage and supporting the continued exclusion of homosexuals from the military.

1996 This platform goes a step further, endorsing the Defense of Marriage Act to prevent states from recognizing same-sex unions. It also builds on the school voucher concept and includes religious schools and homeschooling as parental options.

2000: new focus on “faith-based organizations”
2000 In the wake of the unpopular campaign to impeach President Bill Clinton, the Religious Right lost some ground. This platform contains only one reference to God, but welfare reform inspired a new focus aimed at faith-based programs and organizations — the phrase “faith-based” appears 10 times.

2004 This platform contains an entire section devoted to protecting marriage and expands anti-abortion language to include support for the Born Alive Infants Protection Act which considers an infant who survives an abortion a person under federal law.

2008 In 2007, the year Time Magazine declared “The Religious Right’s Era Is Over,” the Republican party platform contains two references to God and reaffirms its past positions on issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and gays in the military but does not expand on them.

2012: first mention of the “war on religion”
2012 This year, there’s a resurgence of religious rhetoric and ideology. The party’s platform contains 10 references to God, 19 references to faith and the first reference to a “war on religion.” Citing what it calls the Obama administration’s “attempt to compel faith-related institutions, as well as believing individuals, to contravene their deeply held religious, moral, or ethical beliefs regarding health services, traditional marriage, or abortion,” the platform accuses “liberal elites” of trying to “drive religious beliefs — and religious believers — out of the public square.”

Following the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, the platform does not object to gays in the military, but specifically opposes gay marriage in the military, and reaffirms the party’s opposition to gay marriage at all. There are 19 references to abortion, calling for (in addition to the standard opposition) bans on sex-selective abortion and foreign aid that covers abortion. In the foreign policy section of the platform, entitled “American Exceptionalism,” a short human-rights section refers only to religious rights.

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  • Strawman411

    In an era in which cognitive dissonance is not pointed to as illogical, but is instead a ubiquitous method with which to demonstrate one’s partisan loyalty, I see no sign that Ms. Feeney’s timeline will end anytime soon.

    When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross.
    ~Sinclair Lewis

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ELV6J3TR5VKCQSHPLTLIS2ANLE Bob

    Social conservatism is shameful, immoral and UNGODLY. Fiscal conservatism is “penny-wise” and pound foolish. This is the Republican party which uses this philosophy of degrading people and shrinking societies.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ELV6J3TR5VKCQSHPLTLIS2ANLE Bob

    Romney, Damon Corporation and a $119 Million Medicare Fraud Settlement
    Seeded on Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:10 PM EST
    According to a cited Forbes report, in 1989, Bain Capital purchased controlling interest in Damon Clinical Laboratories Corporation, a medical testing company located in Needham, Massachusetts.

    In 1996, Damon admitted that from 1988 to 1993 it had shored up its earnings by submitting fals
    e claims to Medicare and other federal programs, and had agreed to pay , after being found guilty, a $35.3 million criminal fine — one of the largest corporate fines in U.S. history — and an additional $83.7 million to settle the lawsuits..

    The company, then owned by Corning, ended the scheme after it had acquired Damon from Bain Capital in 1993, according to company and prosecutors’ statements.

    Mitt Romney claimed Bain Capital never worked with any company that worked with the government—like Medicare or Medicaid. Even when asked directly by Newt Gingrich at one debate, Romney responded, “We didn’t do any work with the government. I didn’t have an office on K Street. I didn’t—had never worked—I’ve never worked in Washington.”

    Let’s look at the facts:

    In 1993, Romney claimed he was unaware of any investigation — quoted in the Boston Globe on Oct. 10, 1993. When the Globe revisited the case during Romney’s run for governor in 1992, his story was different. Romney’s story changed about his knowledge of the investigation.

    The Globe, disclosing that Romney had earned $473,000 from the sale, reported on Oct. 10, 2002:

    “Romney said yesterday he was a proactive board member who helped to uncover the fraud. Romney said the board used its New York law firm to investigate, and as a result, the board took ‘corrective action’ months before Damon was sold to Corning.”

    But as the Globe reported, court records — including statements from prosecutors and Damon’s own admissions — told a different story, and reveal that the fraudulent activity occurred right up until the time Bain and other owners sold the company to Corning. Prosecutors also gave sole credit to Corning for cleaning up the fraud after it purchased the company from Bain and other owners.

    Romney later admitted that the board did not report to federal investigators any findings from the alleged internal inquiry.

    Romney was never charged with any wrongdoing. The fraud apparently began in 1988, one year before Bain Capital invested in the company. In the end, four Damon officials were charged with Medicare fraud, including President Joseph Isola, who pleaded no contest to fraud charges and was placed on three years’ probation.

    The Damon case is certainly a valid subject for scrutiny of Romney’s business record. This is not about questioning ‘free market’ or ‘capitalism’; this is about questioning fraud and truthfulness of a Presidential candidate.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ELV6J3TR5VKCQSHPLTLIS2ANLE Bob

    Fascism is already here and the wealthy Republicons are responsible because they are the party of GREED AND HATE!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/shirley.a.baker.9 Shirley A. Baker

    I chalk all this stuff up to ignorance and superstition that persists in the Republican ultra right wingers and Tea Party(I hardly call it a party for there is no joy or humor with these guys just tunnel vision)

  • SalinasPhil

    The GOP are masters of manipulation. They see ‘god’ and social issues as central planks in a winning platform. They could care less otherwise about these issues. Money is there primary concern — especially when it comes to finding ways to increase the wealth of the rich while holding back everyone else.

    The cure is public education. Educated Americans easily sees through the B.S. of the GOP. And so the GOP will remain opposed to education.

  • http://www.facebook.com/astarte.rainbow Astarte’ T. Rainbow

    I am not certain why the R’s are pushing to make Christianity a national religion. This country was founded on the principal of religious freedom. As to the “Under God” part of the Pledge of Allegiance was not added until the mid 1950’s under the dark threats of Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his cronies…..I was in grade school and remember having to learn the new version.

  • Jonathan Toth from Hoth

    It’s all about Fundamentalist Christian money…imo.

  • william Scanlon

    The founders purposely caqlled for a separation of church and state. They had learned a valuable lesson from the experience of European nations over the previous 250 years before the founding of our nation. Present day Republicans do not know their history, they think they are scriptingt a reality show. That is pretty off base.

  • Carlos

    My recollection is that the country was founded as ”One nation, indivisible… “under God” was added in the 1950’s right around the time of the McCarthy era.

  • socialmedic

    I suspect that present day Republicans know damn well what they are doing, know damn well what our founders intended and why and don’t give a damn. They are not, as they put it, trying to “take the country back,” they are trying to take the country. Period. They hate this country and what it stands for. They intend to destroy it using any means. ANY MEANS. They are evil and rotten to the core.

  • Socialmedic

    Below are the words of Thomas Jefferson on the matter of religious freedom. There is nothing ambiguous about what he and other founders thought about the matter. The Christian right is DELIBERATELY misconstruing what can not in any way be misunderstood, was spelled out here clearly and explicitly, the religious right is exactly the agency Jefferson warns the nation against:

    “Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts
    to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations,
    tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure
    from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both
    of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either,
    as was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of
    legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being
    themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over
    the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking
    as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them
    on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the
    greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man
    to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which
    he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him
    to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is
    depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions
    to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and
    whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing
    from the ministry those temporal rewards, which proceeding from an approbation
    of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and
    unremitting labors for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights
    have no dependence on our religious opinions, more than our opinions
    in physics or geometry; that, therefore, the proscribing any citizen
    as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of
    being called to the offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess
    or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously
    of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow
    citizens he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles
    of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing, with a monopoly
    of worldly honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess
    and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not
    withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the
    bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his
    powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation
    of principles, on the supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous
    fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being
    of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of
    judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they
    shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for
    the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere
    when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order;
    and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself,
    that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing
    to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of
    her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be
    dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.

    Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall
    be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place,
    or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested,
    or burdened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account
    of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free
    to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters
    of religion, and that the same shall in nowise diminish, enlarge,
    or affect their civil capacities.

    And though we well know this Assembly, elected by the people for
    the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no powers equal to
    our own and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be
    of no effect in law, yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that
    the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and
    that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or
    to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural
    right.” –Thomas Jefferson 1786.

  • Socialmedic

    Fundamentalist Christian money is a bribe.

  • Socialmedic

    Exactly. If we could, in retrospect, have known how to prevent Nazi Germany, this is what was needed here. The end result of abusing the democratic process to usher in fascism is fascism, not democracy. Some believe that Nazi Germany was as much a mass movement as much as it was the result of the dictates of one sick leader. The sick leader had 85% approval, required WILLING followers to carry it off. This made it very hard to resist from the inside. Fascism is a social disease for which the human race apparently has a weak immunity. Fascism is back, knowing full well it is what it is; it has a known historic precedent. We are well beyond the age of innocence here. They know what evil they represent and so do we.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jerry.fair1 Jerry Fair

    It’s a shame the GOP has been taken over by fake money grubbing little idiots like Ralph Reed and Jerry Falwell and Billy Graham and others. What happened to separation of church and state? The republican party can go jump in the lake for all I care.

  • http://www.facebook.com/faith.w.campbell Faith Williams Campbell

    It is curious that the Republican Party is so against sexual freedom…..for others. In a free country those who don’t want the operation of an abortion, don’t have to have one. For those who don’t want to marry someone of the same sex, don’t have to. If it is truly murder to abort a fetus, why don’t those people who believe that it is, also get up a campaign to collect woman’s eggs and men’s sperm, before they connect? Abortion is the least agreeable way to control the number of children a woman brings to life after 9 months. Why don’t those folks who want to control women’s health decisions work to allow more and easier birth control methods?
    It is all about sex. Fear of it.

  • Buddy

    I totally agree!

  • spitta

    In 1912 most people in America had the behaviors and moral values of a religious community practiced on a daily basis; not without it’s phonies of course. But for the most part there was a code of behavior that seems to have come to our shores with the first immigrants from Europe. Our colonies were decidedly religious in it’s governing of themselves. And that was just the first wave…………………….
    I may not have been seen as necessary to speak up about God or moral values until the passing of Roe v Wade. It was then we began to hear so much about God, religion, and a effort to evangelize citizens to bring thought to what it meant do allow the abortion of the unborn.
    We have been going on and on, in and out, round and about, ever since our country allowed the passing of Roe vs Wade. We wll probably continue to go on about it until there is a consensus that we, as a people, can come to a true agreement about how to deal with just what that law means and what advantage/disadvantage it’s been to us as a whole. Where, when it began there was a place determined what the “start of life” in the womb was….within the first few weeks. Next, it was at any time during one’s pregnancy. We were told there wouldn’t be anyone who would actually “do” any late term abortions. We know that to be untrue today.
    The moral implications of abortion, permeating our country, has to be resolved. There is a better way. Fighting wth one anothe over it isn’t the way. Coming together grappling with the truth of this issue must be done.
    Is it what we call “human” that needs to be protected? We provide for LIFE, LIBERTY, and the PERSUIT of HAPPINESS in our Constitution and we must define when human life begins in order to apply our own laws. This is the reason why most of the religious talk enters into our political discourse. It can be done…..not easily for sure. As long as we continue to have abortion an issue we will continue to hear the words of religious peoples who want their voices heard and not silenced……

  • spitta

    NOWHERE do I find in the Republican Party any efforts to make Christianity a state religion..First and foremost, it’s against the Constitution to make ANY state religion in the

  • Andi Andeea

    Sorry, but the phrase “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” is not in the Constitution, but in the Declaration of Independance. The controversy about abortion and a woman’s right to choose is, in fact, a religious discussion, focusing on Christian values and morals. Christianity is a religion (“They were first called Christians at Antioch”) that has been divided into many, many sects or denominations. If Christians cannot agree among themselves (the reason for so many denominations) they certainly should not be foisting their opinions on the general population who have a “natural right” to think for themselves and form their own opinions, in accordance with their God given free will. (See the Jefferson quote above!)

  • Shagundala

    Read “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” to understand just how it DID happen.

  • Anonymous

    big difference in old republicanism and modern…. republicans

    todays republicans are mammon worshipping capitalists dominionists “Wishing they could start World War to bring jesus back

    and the true christians of the past the puritans and pilgrims who were Socialists Progressive Liberals who exported liberalism to the world = liberty who followed christian law the torah – and the new testament…. by the letter

  • Jo

    They were NOT exporting today’s “liberalism”, believe me!! There are NO similarities at ALL!

  • Anonymous

    they were further left than the modern liberals they gave the means of production to the people in land

    thats right agarianism is communism

    they were far more socialist than socialists today

  • Anonymous

    Fascism is a form of socialism and the Democrats are equally guilty of it.

    Greed for the unearned and lust for state power are what is the enemy.

  • Shenonymous

    Isn’t it wonderful when the truth emerges?

  • Anonymous

    when the state makes exceptions to laws for private corporations for religious reasons, they are in fact endorsing that religion.

  • Dave

    In 1912 abortions were done in back rooms by butchers and gays lived in fear that someone would kill them. That’s why I’m a Democrat and a liberial

  • H0RSELIPS1 .

    I agree. You’d also think that they’d be loudly protesting people taking fertility drugs to have babies and men taking Viagra, but they don’t. I mean, if god wanted them to have babies he’d have made them fertile or given them erections.

  • Charles Consaul

    Tell that to the Supremes. That ship has sailed. welcome to the new Theo-Oligarchy!

  • Mark Swantkowski

    The good ole’ cross and the flag… Nothin’ like ’em to fire up the base… God, guts, guns, gays, and gyno… G-G-G-G-Great!…

  • Stephen Hamilton

    What god are they talking about? It can’t be the one of the Bible, for my God has compassion on the poor and needy especially wage earners and widows and orphans as well as the aliens! And what about the refugees coming from Honduras! Malachi 3 & Matthew 25 is enough to make me questions them.

  • Anonymous

    The God they know doesn’t even come close to the one I know. What’s up with that?

  • JacklynD

    What is today’s liberalism? Abortion is already legal. The only real change has been making it legal for gay people to live openly. That isn’t really a liberal issue so much as it is a civil rights issue. I’ve been a liberal in most things my entire adult life and I am past retirement age and I fail to grasp the panic and loathing that spews forth from people like you. You can practice your religion the same as 100 years ago and you are free to keep you Ak47’s out in the open for your children to see and worship. What exactly is tormenting you?

  • JacklynD

    What a lame argument for again, trying to curtail a woman’s right to choose the course of her life. 90% of abortions are done in the first trimester. The embryo is the size of a bean, the brain isn’t even attached to the nervous system. If you’re so sure that life is eternal than just consider abortion a delayed reentry into the physical world.

  • bruce blosser

    the only sane and reasonable approach to what constitutes “human life” would be the scientific approach! But if you can’t even get past 2500 year old concepts, as preached by ultra conservatives, and embrace concepts like the evolutionary path of morphology in the developing embryo, i seriously doubt you are going to like that approach. But what other method are you going to use? The super conservative right may quote the bible on this issue, but it is actually vaguer than vague on this, quite unsurprisingly not clearly delineating whether a zygote is a human being. So as far as i am concerned unless politicians start embracing science and the concepts of evolution and natural selection, they should just keep their mouths shut on this issue, as they might as well be bringing pre-stone age ideas about buildings and construction to bear on how the country repairs its bridges!

  • Anonymous

    Best post on the page……could not have said it better.

  • Anonymous

    Was not always on our money either…..even the “idea” of having a POA came along much later. I believe that if the founding fathers intended us to be a religious nation they would have said so…..they did not.

  • Shenonymous

    You obviously know just a little about “modern” liberalism. Try reading Paul Krugman’s The Conscience of a Liberal, particularly the Introduction. It’s not hard reading and long on insight.

  • Shenonymous

    I think you perceive history rightly.

  • Dave

    Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    do you actually think there were NO abortions in this country until 1074? FYI…..I decide when life begins in my uterus.

  • Harold Bone

    What do you get when you mix politics and religion? : You simply get more politics! The blending (confusing) of politics and religion doesn’t render an improved religion- nor does it bring about a better political system. Tiny, mean spirited, theological Weltanschauungs are the genesis points from which pathological -hurtful attitudes and actions spring forth: E.g. Nazi Germany.

  • NJW

    The religious right is WRONG. Just like the so-called Moral Majority was Neither

  • El Fin

    Why don’t we just call them what they’ve officially morphed into — the Breeder Party? I can’t even call them the Religious Right anymore, because there’s nothing spiritual about what they stand for, and they’re not right about anything.

  • Anonymous

    But it didn’t appear in the republican platform until 1976. That is what is being said.

  • Bren Frowick

    Yes. I am merely pointing out that the notion of our country having been founded on the quoted principle is a lie, typical of right wing revisionist history.

  • Stephen Hamilton

    One of the leaders of the moral majority Mr Gingrich was having an affair while impeachment of President Clinton was under way, besides what is moral about abandoning the poor?