Many of our current political debates were predicted long ago by leaders of the Christian Right.
The Christian Right is a social movement that began in 1979 with the formation of Moral Majority by Pastor Jerry Falwell. Initially a defensive movement, formed out of concerns over changing social mores in public schools and threats to the tax exempt status of Christian schools and organizations, the Christian Right also joined the Pro-Life movement and supported anti-obscenity laws. Christian Right social conservatives became one leg of the "three-legged stool" of conservatism under President Ronald Reagan, along with economic conservatives and foreign policy conservatives.
After a decade of political activism, Christian Right leaders Dr. James Dobson and Gary Bauer wrote Children at Risk: The Battle for the Hearts and Minds of Our Kids (1990). The book provides a good overview of the main concerns of the Christian Right at that time. Dobson founded Focus on the Family and was serving as its president at the time. Bauer was president of Family Research Council and senior vice president of Focus on the Family at the time. In 2000, he ran for president.
The book came shortly after some popular TV preachers were caught up in sex and money scandals, the Moral Majority had been disbanded, and Pat Robertson failed in his bid to capture the 1988 presidential nomination. A few writers were already writing obituaries for the Christian Right. Steve Bruce's The Rise and Fall of the New Christian Right: Conservative Protestant Politics in America, 1978-1988, was also published in 1990.
In Chapter 4 of Children at Risk, Dobson answers some common questions he gets asked. In one of the answers he lists what he believes to be the 25 goals of liberals related to families. The list, posted below in its entirety, is a good summary of the main concerns of the Christian Right. It can also be read at The Dobson Digital Library.
You may disagree with where Dobson and the Christian Right stood, or the rhetoric he uses on these issues, but there's no denying that Dobson's list was prescient. Many (but not all) of the issues on the list were foreign to the main political debates in 1990. Liberals have been successful with some items on the list. Other parts have not seen success, but they remain a goal pushed by the Left. And, Dobson was wrong about some of the goals (Shirley MacLaine and the occult?). But clearly, most of the list has moved from the fringes of our political debates to center stage.
Here is Dobson's list of "the family agenda of the Left":
1. Convince the public that the training and development of children are far too important to be left to the whims and errors of parents. Only child-development authorities and professionals, commissioned by the government, can do the job properly. Mothers and fathers must yield control to those who are better equipped for the task of raising children.
2. Propagandize heavily against the use of corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure with children. Equate it with child abuse, even when administered judiciously by loving parents. Ultimately, secure legislation to outlaw the practice.
3. Continually emphasize an exhaustive list of "children's rights," which will provide wedges to separate kids from their parents.
4. Provide mandatory schooling for every 4 year old, so that young minds can be controlled. This will be accomplished first through government-sponsored childcare centers. Once established with federal funds, they should eventually drive unassisted church-based facilities out of competition.
5. Teach students that gay and lesbian lifestyles are no less moral than heterosexual relationships, and that they typically involve long-term monogamous commitments. Teach girls that it is just as appropriate to fall in love and have intimate relationships with another girl as with a boy (and do the same for boys). Design counseling programs for gay and lesbian students that will permit subtle recruitment services. (This is being done in Los Angeles City Schools through a program called Project 10. It assumes that 10 percent of students are homosexual, and provides programs to recruit and support new converts.)
6. Demystify the occult. Shirley MacLaine has assisted immeasurably here. Any belief system other than the Christian faith is seen as an improvement, including the mysticism of Eastern religions.
7. Remove all references to God from school literature, such as with regard to the Pilgrims' worship on Thanksgiving, and from every dimension of public life.
8. Work to remove tax exemptions for religious institutions and begin to control them through regulatory and legislative mandate.
9. Require churches, businesses, and schools to hire gays, lesbians and others who contradict their faith.
10. Promote Gay-Pride celebrations in every American city, and seek equivalent legal status of families for homosexual and lesbian partners.
11. Expand the power of government and its bureaucracies to control every vestige of private life.
12. Increase the tax burden on families, forcing more women into the work force and their children into childcare facilities.
13. Require military women to fight in combat.
14. Repeal all laws relating to obscenity, and even child pornography.
15. Eliminate the motion picture rating system so that patrons (and parents) cannot easily avoid violent and explicit sexuality in films.
16. Make homemakers feel exploited, stupid and useless. Especially at the college and university level, ridicule female students who wish to marry, to have a family, or to postpone or avoid a career.
17. Oppose with vengeance any effort to teach, or even mention, creation as an explanation for the Earth's beginnings.
18. Monitor every judge appointed or seeking election. The judiciary is the key to the leftist agenda.
19. Secure far-reaching rights of students on junior and senior high school campuses. Limit the authority of teachers and principals to enforce rules of conduct.
20. Implement an aggressive sex-ed program, beginning in kindergarten, that is guided by no moral code. Safe sex is its centerpiece.
21. Provide for legal infanticide in cases of severe handicap or mental retardation.
22. Guarantee the "right to die" to anyone desiring suicide. Physicians should be free to assist in the act of dying.
23. Work to remove all state sodomy laws.
24. Fight tooth and nail to retain the right to abortion on demand — up to the moment of birth — for any reason whatsoever.
25. Operate aggressive "death education" classes in public schools to desensitize children to dying and to help them see life materialistically.