Magazine December 17, 2020, Issue

The Decline of the Christian Consensus

A Methodist church in Tennessee (Cindy Robinson/Getty Images)
How the Right lost the culture wars

There have been many ebbs and flows in conservatism over the last six and one-half decades, many passages through optimism and despair, but one great constant has been the sense that the Right is losing, or has lost, what we now call the “culture wars.” This sense of failure refers to many different kinds of battles, from the legal struggle over so-called social issues to conflicts within the academy to shifts in how Ameri­cans mate and marry and have kids. But seeing the root of “culture” in “cult” is a useful way to get to the root of what conservatives

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