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20 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 111 (2006)
The Religious Right and the Opposition to U.S. Ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child

handle is hein.journals/emint20 and id is 121 raw text is: THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT AND THE OPPOSITION TO U.S.
T. Jeremy Gunn*
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was
adopted unanimously by the U.N. General Assembly on November 20, 1989,
eleven days after the Berlin Wall fell.1 In the months surrounding the CRC
vote, all of the European communist allies of the former Soviet Union
collapsed, and the latter was itself in the throes of dissolution.2 The USSR and
its allies, the threat of which had been a core theme of American political life
for more than forty years, were disintegrating. But, at the exact moment that
the communist world in Europe was collapsing, some Americans associated
with the religious right had already identified a dangerous new international
threat: an assault on the traditional family. The United Nations, which many
Americans had previously accused of being the willing handmaiden of
expansionist and atheistic communism, was instantly transformed into a villain
engaged in an intentional campaign to destroy the traditional American family.
The CRC, which was adopted unanimously and was quickly ratified by every
country in the world except the United States and Somalia, became fodder in
the American culture wars that had been announced by the religious right
and its allies.3 For example, the conservative Heritage Foundation's principal
* Director of the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief and a Senior Fellow in Religion
and Human Rights at Emory University School of Law.
1 Convention on the Rights of the Child art. 24, Nov. 20, 1989, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3 [hereinafter CRC].
2 On the day the United Nations voted unanimously to adopt the CRC in New York City, 200,000
people had gathered in Prague in a massive demonstration against the communist government. The dramatic
changes taking place at this time are exemplified by the case of Vdclav Havel, who, in February 1989, was
incarcerated in a Czechoslovak prison, but who, in December 1989, was the newly elected president of his
country and was residing in Hradtany Castle.
3 For the leading early treatment of the subject, see JAMES DAVISON HUNTER, THE CULTURE WARS: THE
STRUGGLE TO DEFINE AMERICA (1991). This work was published in the same year that the Soviet Union
finally disintegrated. For other important treatments of the religious right, see WILLIAM MARTIN, WITH GOD
ON OUR SIDE: THE RISE OF THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT IN AMERICA (1996) (a sympathetic and perceptive account)

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