The term “Religious Right” pops up every election cycle, but leaders often identified with the political movement say that while their constituencies remain strong, the catchphrase deserves a proper burial.
[S]everal politically conservative evangelicals said in interviews that they do not want to be identified with the “Religious Right”, “Christian Right”, “Moral Majority,” or other phrases still thrown around in journalism and academia.
The problem with this idea is that the term “Religious Right” is accurate. Those people are clearly religious, and in some sense right-wing. If they have a problem with the term’s connotations, it’s because their actions brought it upon themselves. More is after the jump.
The terms “Left-wing” and “right-wing” are useful so long as their limits are recognized. Perhaps the single-axis political spectrum is an over-simplification. A two axis spectrum is better: one axis is the “classical” right-left regarding fiscal issues, and another one regarding authoritarian versus libertarianism or individual focus versus community/state focus. Taking this into account, the Religious Right Wrong is truly the authoritarian right-wing. To the extent that the term “Right” refers to a fusion of a position on two different axes (right on fiscal issues and authoritarian/state focus on social issues), the most “Left-wing” party in the United States is the Green Party, certainly not the Democrats.
Hence, the term “Religious” (or “Christian”) “Right” is appropriate because it is accurate. With respect to religion, the term “Religious Right” is neutral, as it could refer to right wingers of any religion, whereas the term “Christian Right” can only refer to right wingers who have Christianity as a religion. In the United States, the terms are synonymous because most people there are Christian. The term “Moral Majority” was coined by Jerry Falwell, good riddance to him, and a member of the Religious Right.
The Religious Right Wrong’s desire to have a name change is hopeless; for as long as they continue doing what they are doing now, any new name will get the connotations of their old name, and will eventually be replaced. This is known as the euphemism treadmill, and this explains why (at least here in Canada) a bathroom does not always have a bathtub, but always has a toilet.