The Right’s 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.
"Lewis has provided an excellent analysis which bridges the gaps between several subfields of political science. This works is empirically sophisticated, theoretically nuanced, and addresses important questions in normative democratic theory. As a study of the interplay of public opinion, public policy, and public discourse, this fine book will serve as an exemplar." - Ted G. Jelen - University of Nevada, Las Vegas
"If you want to understand the future of cultural politics in America, read this book. No longer do evangelicals claim to speak for a moral majority; instead, they seek the protection of their rights as an embattled minority. This insight - masterfully chronicled and convincingly argued - is like a Rosetta Stone for contemporary cultural politics." - David Campbell, University of Notre Dame
"Lewis engages in social theorizing in grand style, charting the dramatic shift in evangelical advocacy motivated by abortion politics and a new minority status. Evangelicals learned about rights politics, began making rights claims, and found themselves making rights claims to other issues and groups. Lewis' fascinating book transforms the usual culture war narrative to one both more important and more American." - Paul A. Djupe, Denison University