"The rise of what used to be known as “the religious right” did not begin with the legalization of abortion. That’s a nice story that the various Bible-banging charlatans would like you to believe. No, the institutions that would nurture and produce the religious right were the white-only Christian academies and universities that sprang up in the South as part of the massive resistance to desegregation—the churchgoing end of that strategy. The religious right was not born out of opposition to Roe v. Wade. It was born out of opposition to Brown v. Board."
Pierce makes a good case for his view but I ask how much of it happened to coincide with the fallout from the 1954 Brown v. Board case.
Less than six years after that desegregation ruling, the GOP’s extreme right John Birch Society was calling Republican President Eisenhower a communist sympathizer and expelling Republican moderates. These moderates, after racist Democrats quit the Democratic Party, gave the remaining Democrats in Congress the votes necessary to enact the Voting Right Act and other laws that gave African-Americans more of the rights of Americans.
Along with racism, anti-communism energized the 1960s GOP.
In the 1964 primaries, the GOP’s western conservatives defeated the eastern moderates and ended moderation in the GOP. Nixon’s Southern Strategy recruited those Southern racists and they brought their brand of xianity into the GOP.
Someone in the then anti-communist and racist GOP realized that fundamentalist xians were conservative and President Reagan, without first counting them, invited them into the GOP. Thus did a Libertarian small government GOP becomme an authoritarian Big government GOP.
The Party’s wealthy Libertarian Establishment now had a large pool of not-very-smart voters they could manipulate and exploit.