Christianity in the US is quite a story. In the early 1800’s Christianity was on top in the US. No other world view competed. Faith was growing. Lots of bad things happened in the world with Christians on top as we also were sinners. Also being on top did not mean all were believers.
Fundamentalists apeared in the US by 1900 while Modernists moved with culture. Prohibition got passed with big help of Christians in 1920. Gradually, horrible crime appeared all across US as huge criminal gangs got rich on the production, distribution, and sale of alcohol. So Prohibition failed and was recalled in 1933. It increased the crime element in the US in ways that we still have not overcome. This hurt the Christian reputation.
Christianity in the US Took a Big Hit
The 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial was a watershed event that the fundamentalists won in court in Tennessee. But Clarence Darrow of the Modernists was attractive while William Jennings Bryan lost the heart of America. Darrow talked of inquisitions and how historicity of Bible was unreasonable as had miracles. Both Darrow and Bryan took the stand for the defense as the conservative judge would not allow the Defense’s expert witnesses. Darrow wanted to make a case for the Bible for theology and morals but not science. He knew he could make Bryan’s faith seem impractical.
Bryan said Darrow wanted to ridicule everyone who believed the Bible. Darrow said we wanted to prevent bigots and ignoramuses from controlling education. Scopes lost, but the majority of Americans suddenly saw the believers and turned away in fear. Christians pushing passing of the Butler Act in Tennessee gave the Modernists a chance to break the feeling of fundamentals being right. They hugely moved America. It was the first trial live on radio nationwide.
Depression and World War came and by the 50’s America was successful Christian (modernist and fundamental mostly still together). Due to the loss of all of China to communism in 1949, America felt under siege of atheistic communism. So we thought hard about what we had that the communists did not. The US put “In God We Trust” on the money in 1952 as that was the named difference.
Things Became a Mess
In the 1960’s young people asked their parents why we lived Christian, and most American parents answered that they did not know why. Thus, the 60’s teenagers went wild. Free Sex and Free Drugs and pagan and Evangelical communes emerged.
By the 70’s many high church groups like the Presbyterians and Methodists started to split between the believing Christians and the cultural Christians. The believers were the minority in all big church denominations. When the Christians left, the culture was divided openly and clearly. We were more comfortable, but we had lost hold of the culture as a whole.
In 1973 after Roe vs Wade Christians met and wrote the Chicago Declaration of Evangelical Social Concern. It said we under God have work to do on racism, economic materialism, economic inequality, militarism, and sexism. Evangelicals thought Roe v Wade was ok as freedom is better, and it should be an individual choice.
Christianity in the US Became Unequally Yoked
In January of 1976, the IRS ruled that Bob Jones was not desegregated so could not be tax deductible. White supremacists were outraged. This could lead to all segregated private schools losing non profit status.
When Evangelical Jimmy Carter ran for President, Evangelicals supported him by more than 50% in November 1976. Jimmy was not racist, so supremacists did not like him.
Minnesota elected two Pro-life senators in 1978, so supremacists thought they could use this topic. In Minnesota candidates did not campaign on Pro-Life, but were. One guy was Jewish. The Catholics in Minnesota pushed the pro-life thing, and the evangelicals did not care.
Francis Schaeffer Made a Big Impact
Then in 1980 Reagan supported white supremacists demand for tax exempt status for their segregated schools. It helped Reagan win the South which was enough to become President. Reagan, as California Governer, had signed the most liberal abortion law in the nation in 1967. Francis A. Schaeffer wanted a constitutional amendment to stop abortion. Reagan knew that was impossible, so supported the Amendment to get more evangelical votes that Francis had created with his film. Reagan was against the voting rights act. He was a supremacist or at least voted with them. So the supremacists did not really care about abortion along with Reagan.
They really did not want the government controlling their lives and abortion was an example. The men like Reagan, who already pandered to the white supremacists, went with Francis Shaeffer as could not campaign for segregation openly and saw a lot of votes with Pro-Life. Jerry Falwell Sr. did not give any speech on abortion until 1978 when it showed up as useful for his segregationist thinking.
So the Moral Majority of Jerry Falwell was founded by white supremacists like him who needed a better vehicle. He and friends used Francis Schaefer who lamented loss of a Christian consensus in the West. Francis was sad that people followed the law and not any higher moral base. I am sad too. The supremacists got lots of votes to help Francis make rules to stop abortion and euthanasia. He thought that we needed to make our morality the law. Segregationists with Pro-life people was enough to win nationally. That was a big step.
We Partnered With People God Hated
Did Francis knowingly tie up with supremacists? I am not sure. Let me note that Moses married a Cushite after his wife, Zipporah, died. Miriam, his sister, took offense that Moses had married a black woman. God gave Miriam leprosy for having such a thought. God clearly made the races and is color blind. He wants us to be like Moses and not Miriam.
Supremacists started talking about abortion, and we Christians voted for these supremacists in sheep’s clothing. Francis had moved us Christians with his film and book.
Somehow, we had joined with supremacists, and Francis Schaeffer made us think we needed a law to make others follow our morality. Unfortunately, the more we tried to force our morality, the more the pagans hated us. They finally could not tolerate us. See also Christians and the Ransacked Capitol.