Good op-ed piece in the USA Today:

From "Left, Right and Religion: A Double Standard," by Patrick Hynes and Jeremy Lott:

"[T}he creation of the religious right was largely a function of the courts and politicians pushing the boundaries the other way. Evangelicals were moved to civic activism because the IRS threatened to revoke the tax-exempt status of private Christian schools; because the U.S. Supreme Court removed abortion from the political process; because mentions of the Almighty began to be scrubbed from valedictory addresses for fear that someone, somewhere might take offense. Today, the term "goddamn" is treated as protected speech, but remove the "damn" and watch the lawsuits roll in.

"So evangelicals did the only responsible thing they could in a democracy. They organized and reached out. They found allies in churchgoing Roman Catholics, mainline Protestants, Jews and even some agnostics who believed that religion plays a vital role in holding society together. In this they were not so different from the civil rights leaders of the past, whose rallying cry was the God-given dignity of every American. The new coalition grew over time to the point that the religious right (or "values voters," if you prefer) became the single largest voting bloc in American politics."

Hynes and Lott have all this essentially correct. The headline is a bit misleading, as the rest of the piece offers a report on the rise of the religious left, which the authors welcome as a good thing.

The article in full.

For much more on Religion and Public Policy, I recommend the Okie Gardener's extended series contained here (scroll down).