The dwindling ambition of the religious right

The big dreams of traditionally conservative moralism are a thing of the past

An anti-pornography sign.
(Image credit: Michael Siluk / Alamy Stock Photo)

There was a time in the not-so-distant American past when social conservatives dreamed big.

Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority in 1979 in part to fight for Christian prayer in public schools. During the 1980s, social conservatives from both parties pushed hard to regulate and restrict obscenity in pop music. As he prepared to run for re-election, Democratic President Bill Clinton made a play for social conservative voters by strongly supporting the Defense of Marriage Act. Eight years later, Republican President George W. Bush's re-election campaign worked closely with social conservatives to try and get a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

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