The Protestant Right Was Loud But Late To Anti Abortion.

The Protestant right likes to say it was in the trenches against abortion from day one.

It wasn’t.  I’ve pointed this out before here and some readers said I was wrong.

The Roe v Wade decision happened in 1973.  Mostly, there was either support or silence for several years.

My impression looking back was Protestant evangelicals were saying, “That’s a Catholic issue.  It’s not ours.”  I have referred earlier to articles in Christian magazines supporting Roe.

The Protestant right was involved in politics during those years, just not anti abortion politics.  It was still mad about integration of schools and, just as it now says it will stop gay marriage, it said it would reverse integration.

Some four years after Roe, 1977, Jimmy Carter moved into the White House.  He started saying religious elementary/secondary schools needed to integrate or lose their tax exempt status.   This enraged the religious right, who sent their children to these schools just to circumvent integration.

Carter’s effort galvanized the religious right.  The Republican Party asked Jerry Falwell to form a group, which became known as the Moral Majority,  and it began experimenting with issues.

It was not until almost 1980, over six years after Roe, the Moral Majority began calling abortion murder.  Other things did happen during the 1970’s related to this, but none changed the fact the religious right did not oppose abortion until several years after it was made legal.

Being anti abortion is not indigenous to Protestants.

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22 Responses

  1. Michael Ross

    “It was not until almost 1980, over six years after Roe, the Moral Majority began calling abortion murder.”

    I recall Fallwell acknowledge that Catholics were in the abortion issue long before evangelicals. “To our shame” the Rev. Jerry put it.

    “The Republican Party asked Jerry Falwell to form a group, which became known as the Moral Majority, and it began experimenting with issues.”

    Social issues attracted support of the Religious Right but Reagan was elected to get rid of Carter and stagflation. He was reelected because the economy had begun to turn up. Not because of anything Reagan did but because the Fed under Paul Volker had broken the back of inflation with record high interest rates that were now falling and America was again borrowing and spending. Americans vote only their pocketbooks. Social issues are secondary at best.

    1. Again we agree Michael. When it comes to money vs morality, money always wins.

      Here’s a question: do you think that when people feel economically or financially helpless, they are more vulnerable to ‘moral manipulation’ and choose to dump on people they see as weak or inferior as a way to regain some control of their pitiful lives?

      Or, put another way; if the middle class was thriving with a new car in every garage and two weeks in Disneyland every summer–there wouldn’t be much fuss over gay, immigrants and abortion?

      1. Doug

        It is human nature to always be searching for the “why” answers, . . . for a scapegoat when “things” are not going well. But then there are also little matters such as 9-11, Katrina, Sandy, Aurora, Haiti and the Great Recession of 2008. There is always a group of hateful people who instantly point to the LGBT community as the cause of these disasters resulting from the wrath of their vengeful pixie-in-the-sky “god”. It’s little wonder our children are internalizing this homophobia and taking their own lives. I suppose THAT was ALSO part of their god’s plan!

      2. Michael Ross

        In inflationary times moral values go out the window. After a deflationary collapse people realize the must live within certain boundries, financial and moral. We have fallen into a deflationary depression since 2008 but the Fed has fought it off to the point that the majority don’t realize the seriousness of the situation yet. “Kicking the can down the road” has become a household expression. Many think we can do it indefinately but I believe we are about to run out of road.

        “if the middle class was thriving with a new car in every garage and two weeks in Disneyland every summer–there wouldn’t be much fuss over gay, immigrants and abortion?”

        Yes I believe that is correct.

        1. Thanks for the reply, Michael. I also agree that our leaders are ‘kicking the can’ rather than dealing with reality. I shudder to think where that will lead.

  2. Simple

    To me the abortion issue has a high degree of phoniness among many evangelicals. They show a very high degree of compassion for an embryo yet show very little once a child is born. All this talk about the sanctity of life, but that does not seem to apply to issues outside of abortion, and family planning.

    1. Simple 3:14 “…degree of phoniness among many evangelicals.”
      I’m with you. There is not much interest in welfare and deaths except of fetus’. Car wrecks, suicides of teens who are gay, none of that generates any outrage or concern.

    2. Jinx

      In my professional career, more often than not, observed parents or individuals who were vehemently anti-abortion seeking abortions services for their teenage or themselves. Somehow, it becomes a totally different case when its your kid or yourself.

      1. entech

        Seen that here. Someone I know escaped from an oppressive exclusive brethren sect only to be a born again in later life. Her daughter returned from a working trip to America, pregnant with a strong possibility that the child would not be entirely Anglo Saxon.
        Support for a termination was forthcoming.

        I think it is called hypocracy and it is pretty widespread among the lover your neighbour group.

      2. Jinx 9:07 “Somehow, it becomes a totally different case when its you kid or yourself.”

        I had a brother, now dead, who was a psychiatrist in the Kansas City area. There was a law a psychiatrist had to evaluate the woman seeking an abortion to varify there was mental distress, or, some such nonsense. He said he would just sign off because he didn’t think there was any need for such a law.

        What surprised him were the number of doctors who would tell him they needed a sign off for their teen age daughters. Their requests so often, he said, would be preceded by, “I hate abortion. I think it is the taking of a human life. But, in my little girl’s case, there are complicating factors involved….”

  3. Kay Syvrud

    I think people who are horrified by the number of abortions that have taken place in the United States since Roe v Wade are more motivated by their personal spiritual beliefs ….both Jews’ and Christians’ scriptures are very clear about the taking of a life….whether it is before birth (abortion) or later after a child is born and grows up.
    My concern about abortion centers on the taking of an innocent life that is viable as a human from the moment of conception. As for one statement a commenter made that Christians are not concerned about the life of an infant after is is born and “saved from abortion”…..I think that is a false statement. Decades ago adoption of infants was so common…loving parents wanted to adopt babies that were born to women who could not raise them. Now due to the “push” for abortion (as a solution for no birth control) of unwanted babies there are no babies to adopt in the United States…or too few for sure. Babies would still be adopted as they were prior to Roe v Wade but abortion supporters refuse to see that truth. True Christians are deeply concerned about children ..both before they are born and after they are born.
    To accuse otherwise is simply a lie. Death is the real issue here–the deliberate death of an unborn child.

    1. Brad

      I would agree that it’s true that some “true” Christians (whatever that means) really are concerned about life at all stages, from conception to old age. Those are mostly liberal Christians.

      However, the official ideology and policies of the Republican party is very decidedly anti-life and pro-death at all stages. They are pro-war, pro-gun, pro-death penalty, anti-worker, anti-women, anti-children, anti-poor, anti-disabled, and on and on and on. The only reason these Republican politicians care at all about abortion is that it keeps their kool-aid drinkers voting for them. Other than that, they also like meddling in people’s personal affairs, and they have a massive hunger to control people, especially women.

      When Republicans stop intruding into people’s personal and private lives with their anti-choice crusade such as embryonic citizenship legislation (as is being rammed through in the ND state legislature as I speak), then and only then I will stop laughing when they say they are all about less laws and smaller government. That’s the biggest joke in American history.

  4. kay syvrud

    Brad… the Republican party has nothing at all to do with True Christianity. I mean by that.. those Believers who honor His word in all ways and at all shortcuts and no excuses. A true Christian studies God ‘s word “to be approved a workman,rightly divinding the word of truth” (from 2 Timothy 2: 15) I believe that
    God’s word is truth and I do study it diligently with a sincere heart.
    I can see how Unbelievers get the wrong idea from the half hearted “churches” that do not honor God’s word and go off on strange rabbit trails and tangents.

    1. Brad

      My point is that the Republican party claims to be the party of Christianity, and uses that to sway voters in their favor. Republican politicians use abortion as a political issue to get their Christian coalition to keep voting for them, but in reality they really are not a pro-life party. Their concern for the unborn is absolutely phony for the most part.

  5. entech

    Here we go again, how many versions of the “one true” Christian are there. Is there a common acceptance amongst all denominations?

  6. kay syvrud

    I do not depend on a denominational definition of a true Christian but rather what is learned by studying Christian scriptures which contain a definition within them..they are not all in one place but many of the NT epistles define true Christian behavior and belief. Anyone who despises Christian scripture will be ignorant of the definition and rely on man made garbage to define true Christianity.
    There is a book titled TRUE CHRISTIANITY by William (Bill )McDonald that is very scripturally-based and it gives a very good definition throughout the book which is not a long one but is very understandable.

    1. Brad

      I do despise some of the scripture, such as the parts where it commands putting children to death for disobeying their parents, or where it promotes slavery. I don’t know how anyone cannot despise that.

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