The GOP candidate for the open Nebraska Senate seat who believes that the ‘government cannot force citizens to violate their religious beliefs under any circumstances” wrote a dissertation while at Yale documenting the number of times the government did just that – and how the unintended consequences of doing so were key to mainstreaming conservative politics.

Ben Sasse, who is widely expected to to win the seat being vacated by Sen. Mike Johanns in November, authored a dissertation – The Anti-Madalyn Majority: Secular Left, Religious Right, and the Rise of Reagan’s America – in which he argued that the modern conservative movement began not with ‘the Reagan Revolution,” but with two Supreme Court decisions in the early 1960s in which mandatory public school prayer and Bible reading were struck down as unconstitutional.

The first of them, Engel v. Vitale, inspired a Republican Congressman from New York, Frank Becker, to action. He was a true believer – a man who, according to Sasse, was a ‘tenacious focus derived less from a studied assessment of his audience than from his heartfelt conviction that the hope of America lay in its special relationship with the Almighty, and in the nation’s resolve to doggedly oppose the […]

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