The Trump administration prides itself on its “pro-life” (forced-birth) stance, yet deny, women jailed in immigration concentration camps, adequate medical care, and the lack of care have caused some women to have miscarriages. With the debate over a Supreme Court Justice who believes in precedent or activist judges creating new law, women being denied medical care because of who they are isn’t pro-life. With this lack of compassion in mind, I wanted to look at the pro-life political movement’s history briefly.
Contrary to the current framing, the religious right didn’t form from the Roe v. Wade landmark decision, which legalized abortion. It was far less savvy than sticking up for life—the Religious Right’s original mission: segregation. White evangelicals fought desegregation.
According to Slate: “It was Green v. Kennedy, a 1970 decision stripping tax-exempt status from “segregation academies”—private Christian schools that were set up in response to Brown v. Board of Education, where the practice of barring black students continued.”
The political evangelical Christian position on abortion is roughly 40-years old. Before the abortion debate, the focus was on school segregation and racism. In the late 1970s, being openly racist turned some people off – thus, a new culture war began against abortion, homosexuals & gun rights.
Evangelical political figures viewed the pro-life movement as something people could get behind, and get behind it they did. Abortion is, for some Christians, the number one voting issue. Regardless of the candidate, if pro-life, the Republican candidate has their vote.
Many people also consider religious liberty a top priority; however, that was not always the case. It wasn’t until the religious-right took over conservative politics that religious freedom became a voting issue. Until the 20th century, the elites discussed religious freedom, not the average congregant. Religious right leaders realized scaring voters & pushing false narratives worked best on naive Christians. The Christians who didn’t pay attention to politics or even know what a candidate believed so-long as they hated the people powerful religious right leaders told them to hate, evangelicals supported them, which is how Donald Trump happened. Donald Trump is not the problem; he is a symptom of the problem. 40-years of culture wars created a monster.
As late as 1979, the Baptist Joint Committee argued before a federal court that the Hyde Amendment, which limited federal dollars used for abortion, was unconstitutional because it violated the Establishment Claus by choosing the Catholic faith over others.
In essence, conservative Christians turned from a constitutional stance to a biblical literalist one, which fights against its threat: liberalism. White Republican evangelicals have turned Christianity into a political force. The religious-right has enjoyed decades of deception. From Christian television shows to pushing candidates that have little in common with the average Christian. The individual morality of a Christian has shifted to a mob of morality police. The same ‘collectivism’ the right charges the left is now a tactic of the right.
The religious right has become a powerhouse with large donors to drive their movement. Billionaire donors realized that supporting conservative pastors pays off by election time. Religious leaders tell congregations vote a certain way and for specific candidates. (In return, pastors or religious leaders enjoy prominence and access.)
Over the past 40-years, the pro-life movement has become more supportive of all but abolishing the separation of church and state. Also, suppose you wonder why conservative Christians oppose the Affordable Care Act or insurance. In that case, it’s beaten into their heads for decades — any form of what they see as “state health care” goes against billionaires pocketbooks, so pastors cherry-pick verses and regurgitate sermons opposing health care. Unless you can afford insurance, you don’t deserve it. How does this idea appeal to the pro-life movement? Afford it or die.
Don’t think for a second conservative Christians can’t organize and vote. As we saw in the 2016 presidential election, 80% of white evangelical Christians voted for an admitted sexual predator, racist & unrepentant bigot. The people who shout “liberalism is a mental disorder” don’t even realize how the religious right uses them as pawns. Most remain loyal to the Republican party. Some try to stay purist, saying, “I don’t subscribe to either party,” but they stay Donald Trump supporters.
(Reminder: Under Obama, abortion was at a decades-old low because Democrats support health care & expanding coverage.
Women who have abortions need love and mercy, not screaming and slandering them. Lend an ear, without a hint of a condescending tone, to women who have had or are considering an abortion. As a man, I have no right to tell them what to do, but I can treat women with Christ-like love.
Under President Obama, abortion dropped by 30%. This fact lost on conservatives, who called Obama the “abortion president,” contrary to evidence suggesting otherwise. The reduction in abortion under Obama is not magic. Still, the increase in health care funding made a massive difference in women’s ability to gain birth control and needed sex education.)
(Often conservative tout their pro-life morality, which is fine. Pro-lifers are forced-birth. Because if these conservatives cared as much for the living as they do for the unborn, abortion would drop even more. But because of the shame and guilt and lack of resources, some women feel they have no alternative. Either they already have children and can’t afford more or know the societal scoffing they’d receive from the same folks who claim to be pro-life.)
(© 2020 Andrew Cyr)