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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mary Turner Lane, September 9 and 16, 1986; May 21, 1987; October 1 and 28, 1987. Interview L-0039. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Growth of the Christian Right

The growing Christian right emerged just as North Carolina took up the Equal Rights Amendment.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mary Turner Lane, September 9 and 16, 1986; May 21, 1987; October 1 and 28, 1987. Interview L-0039. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

There was also—I'm trying to think when this sort of growing conservative Christian movement came along. I think that began here at the end of the seventies and the beginning of the eighties, where you had an enormous swell of students involved in Christian Athletes. What is that group called on Campus?
PAMELA DEAN:
I can't remember.
MARY TURNER LANE:
It's an undergraduate group, and I'm astounded at the number who are involved in that. There's an Inter-Varsity group. There's the Campus Crusade group, and those groups adhere very closely to traditional norms. In fact, I was invited to give one of the last lectures, you know, the program that the senior class has in the spring, and they ask about five different professors to make last remarks. I spoke very much in the sense of awareness of gender, awareness of male and female, whether you're going on into marriage or going on into work or whatever. And a young woman, who I learned later on was very active in one of these religious groups, chastised me for what I had said—that what I had said was appropriate in my own class but not for a group like that. And I said my concern was that you hear it at least once before you graduate since you are a senior. But that strong religious campus movement was beginning then. The Bible Church began then. Although that was an off-campus organization, many students were caught up in it. So while the women's movement was there, this other conservative movement really was beginning. Phyllis Schlafly was very—oh, the other thing, you see, was we were debating ERA in North Carolina.
PAMELA DEAN:
Right, repeatedly. [laughter]
MARY TURNER LANE:
Yes, we were. That was on the agenda of the state legislature. That polarized people dramatically. The students brought in Phyllis Schlafly and Betty Freidan for a debate. I begged them not to because that meant that Phyllis Schlafly would then be in the state at the time that the state legislature was in session. And I think some very conservative students did that deliberately. She was already invited by the time I got to them. So that was the, that resistance, I think, was the resistance to change, I believe in retrospect, was greater than opposition on the part of faculty or departments or anything else.