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Jana Birchum conservatives ought to be concerned. Conservatism ought to be concerned not only with those who have made it, but those who aren’t part of the dream people who are on the bottom as well as those who are in the middle and top.” Olasky has taken part in precampaign discussions concerning “what’s the next wave of compassionate conservative welfare reforms, that can empower neighborhoods, communities, and individuals to independence…. He’s been very helpful in pushing the edge of the envelope.” By even his own account, there was a time Marvin Olasky was most unlikely to become an advisor to national conservative politicians, let alone a firebrand Christian fundamentalist on the cutting edge of the Republican revolution. The son of Eli and Ida Olasky was raised as an observant but not devout Jew in the Boston suburbs, a fan of the Red Sox and journalism. “My perfect Saturday was taking the subway over to Copley Square and reading all the Saturday morning newspapers … and then just walking over to Fenway Park.” He says he became an atheist at fourteen. As a scholarship student in American Studies at Yale in the late sixties, he continued his interest in journalism, but also became involved in anti-war, pro-labor, and radical left politics, although he disdained most student new left organizations as insufficiently “serious.” Following graduation he bicycled across the country to Oregon where, as a young reporter in 1972, he joined the U.S. Communist Party MAY 14, 1999 tempt to connect more directly with the historical fount of MarxismLeninism. Returning via Europe to New England, he worked briefly as a reporter for the Boston Globe, then went on to graduate school in Michigan. There he abruptly became disillusioned with atheism, communism, and left or even liberal ideas of any kind. As a young academic and then a corporate public relations specialist he moved further and further to the right, spiritually as well as politically. By 1983, when he arrived in Austin as an assistant professor of journalism, Olasky had become a puritan Calvinist, a fundamentalist Presbyterian, and an anti-abortion, anti-welfare activist. It would be a decade before he assumed his present role, as a leading thinker and propagandist of the Christian right. From a distance it seems a puzzling, even confounding transformation. In Olasky’s own story of his conversion there is but one possible explanation: divine providence. He arrived at the University of Michigan in the fall of 1973 a committed communist, even attending national Party gatherings held near Detroit. But as early as November, he began to have unexpected doubts. As he recalled in his 1996 Christmas column for World magazine: But God had other plans…. One day near the end of 1973 1 was reading Lenin’s famous essay, “Socialism and Religion,” in which he wrote, “We must combat religion this is the ABC of all materialism, and consequently Marxism.” At that point God THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9