Media Portrayals of the Moral Majority

John P. Bartkowski and Ashraf Alam

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the American News Media

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780195395068
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Media Portrayals of the Moral Majority

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The New Christian Right, or “religious Right,” was an influential movement during the latter decades of the twentieth century. The Moral Majority is situated within the religious Right. Using a social constructionist approach, this article examines media representations of the Moral Majority, with an emphasis on the variegated narratives that swirled around its rise, apex, and fall. Interestingly, the Moral Majority and New Christian Right initially embraced the militancy frame because it suggested a united movement committed to “saving” America from moral decay. However, as the movement gained recognition and successfully defeated candidates and policies it opposed, the militancy moniker became a liability and likely contributed to its unpopularity. Ultimately, the Moral Majority sought to brandish a more populist and less political image. Ironically, the decade closed with Jerry Falwell, the icon of the New Christian Right, disbanding the Moral Majority and emphasizing the leaderless character of his grassroots movement.

Keywords: Moral Majority; New Christian Right; religious Right; media; militancy; Jerry Falwell; America

Article.  6133 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Christianity

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