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Social conservatism in the United States

Further information: Christian right

Social conservatism in the United States is a right-wing political ideology that advocates against social progressivism, centred on the preservation of traditional beliefs. The accepted aims of the movement often vary amongst the various organisations it comprises, making it hard to generalise about the ideological preferences of its professed adherents. There are, however, a number of general principles to which at least a majority of social conservatives adhere, such as opposition to abortion, LGBT rights, gender equality, and the acceptance of Islam in the United States. Social conservatives in the United States by and large ideologically support Evangelical proselytism.


Social conservatives describe their views regarding socio-political issues as 'traditional' or 'family' values. Social conservatives typically oppose marriage equality for individuals with unorthodox sexual preferences, and oppose abortion.

In the 1920s, religious fundamentalists like William Bell Riley and William Jennings Bryan started a movement against the teaching of the theory of evolution, a battle which fundamentalists are still fighting today, when fundamentalist Protestants often advocate the teaching of creationism in public schools, even though the majority of qualified biological research supports the theory of evolution. America is as a result one of the few remaining countries[1] where alternatives to the theory of evolution receive widespread legitimacy, with conservative organisations[2][3][4][5] in other countries having accepted evolution as the likeliest origin of life. Unlike Protestant churches, the Catholic church has gone so far as to term anti-evolutionist tendencies as 'blasphemous'.[6]

Conservatives tend to strongly identify with American nationalism.

An alliance of convenience was generated between them in the last half of the twentieth century under the doctrine of Fusionism, created by the ex-communist Frank Meyer, editor of the National Review.[7]

Electoral politics

In American politics, the Republican Party is the largest political party with some socially conservative ideals incorporated into its platform. Social conservatives predominantly support the Republican Party, although there are also socially conservative Democrats who break ranks with the party platform. Despite this, there have been instances where the Republican Party's nominee has been considered too socially progressive by social conservatives. This has led to the support of third party candidates from parties such as the Constitution Party, whose philosophies more closely parallel that of social conservatism.[8] While many social conservatives see third parties as a viable option in such a situation, some high-profile social conservatives see the excessive support of them as dangerous. This fear arises from the possibility of vote splitting.[9] Social conservatives, like any other interest-group, usually must find a balance between pragmatic electability and ideological principles when supporting candidates.[10]

Commentator Randall Hoven of The American Thinker has remarked, "Using the National Journals ratings of Senators in 2007, the correlation coefficient between "economic" scores and "social" scores is 90%. That means they almost always go together; financial conservatives are social conservatives and vice versa".[11]

The American Tea Party movement, despite being mostly made up of stringent Social Conservatives, is economically conservative but generally avoids social conservative issues.[12] The Tea Party Patriots is officially neutral[13] on social conservatism. While social conservatism emphasizes faith and family as core values, the Tea Party Patriots identifies its "Core Values" as "Fiscal Responsibility, Constitutionally Limited Government, Free Markets."[14] Some branches are opposed[15] to social conservatism. However, independent polls have repeatedly shown that Tea Party supporters are nearly indistinguishable in their views from traditional Republican social conservatives, despite their choice to emphasize economic issues.[16][17][18][19] While not allying itself exclusively with the Christian conservative movement,[20] members of the Tea Party movement identify with the Christian conservative movement more strongly than the general American populace (44%[21] compared to 34%[22] of the population), and some social conservative leaders have denounced it for its "libertarian" and "irreligious" views.[23] Nearly 80% of those in the Tea Party movement are members of the Republican party.[24]


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  7. "Articles - The End of Republican 'Fusionism'?". RealClearPolitics. March 1, 2008. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  8. "huffingtonpost news story on NY23". October 29, 2009. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  9. Drake, Bruce. "Romney tells Tea Party not to split vote". Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  10. Third Party Alternative to McCain (Although no third party siphoned any significant percentage from McCain, such voter sentiment truly existed during the campaign)
  11. "A Libertarian Defense of Social Conservatism". American Thinker. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  12. "Tea parties stir evangelicals' fears - Ben Smith". Politico.Com. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  13. Zernike, Kate (March 12, 2010). "Tea Party Avoids Divisive Social Issues". The New York Times. 
  14. "Mission Statement and Core Values". Tea Party Patriots. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  15. "» Tea Party Leaders Release Letter Urging House and Senate GOP to Avoid Social Issues". November 23, 2010. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  16. ANALYSIS (February 23, 2011). "Tea Party and Religion - Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life". Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  17. Siegel, Elyse (Released June 2, 2010). "More Than Half Of Tea Party Supporters Say Gays And Lesbians Have Too Much Political Power (POLL)". The Huffington Post. Retrieved July 1, 2010.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  18. New poll looks at tea party views toward minorities The Seattle Times; June 1, 2010
  19. "'Tea party' groups plan Arizona rally against illegal immigration", The Washington Post, August 11, 2010
  21. Przybyla, Heidi (March 26, 2010). "Tea Party Advocates Who Scorn Socialism Want a Government Job". Bloomberg News. Retrieved March 28, 2010. 
  22. Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar (2009) "American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) 2008" Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut, USA; Retrieved April 1, 2009 (PDF)
  23. "Tea parties stir evangelicals' fears - Ben Smith". Politico.Com. Retrieved March 30, 2011. 
  24. "Tea Party Supporters Overlap Republican Base". Retrieved March 30, 2011.