Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

William Bosher


The Christian Right has been a major contributor to the policy process since the 1980s, helping shape the national agenda by illuminating a number of social issues and influencing elections with strong grassroots campaigns. For political scientists, Christian Right organizations provide a rich source of information for studying interest group activity, electioneering, and general political theory. In particular, their efforts to lobby various policy issues such as prayer in school, education, abortion, and traditional marriage, has caused them to become a distinct coalition of advocacy groups, and the focus of much research by many scholars. However, as we advance into the twenty-first century, new biotechnology-related issues have emerged that challenge Christian Right organizations and their values. The purpose of this dissertation was to investigate the involvement of the Christian Right between 2001 and the beginning of 2009 in legislative debates regarding stem cell research policy, and attempt to distinguish its effective and non-effective lobbying strategies, and the general perception of its influence. This study addressed three research questions. First, to what extent do Christian Right organizations participate in the legislative process regarding stem cell research? Second, what is the perceived influence of its lobbying activities on federal stem cell research legislation? Third, in what ways does the Christian Right engage in lobbying legislators on stem cell research legislation? Within these broad research questions, the following subsequent study objectives were pursued: 1) learn about the reasons for the Christian Right’s influence or lack of influence; 2) understand the goals of its advocacy efforts; 3) learn about its use of outside and inside lobbying strategies; 4) better understand the approach used by Christian Right organizations in lobbying legislators who were undecided about a particular stem cell research legislation; 5) learn about the kind of rhetoric it used; and 6) find out what, if any, forms of coalition building it engaged in as part of its advocacy efforts. In addition, this study examined why legislators voted against the majority of their political party when it came to stem cell research legislation. The epistemological approach for this study was qualitative. Data consisted of verbal responses to semi-structured questions during telephone interviews with representatives from Christian Right organizations, advocacy groups that support the expansion of stem cell research policy, former legislators, and current staff members. In addition to the in-depth interviews, data was also obtained through organizational and government documents. Finally, this dissertation analyzed the Christian Right and its participation in the development of stem cell research legislation through the lens of the advocacy coalition framework. In doing so, the study captures of the essence of the stem cell debate and the role of the Christian Right within it, and offers a new theoretical framework for examining the Christian Right.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2009