Reminder: Republicans Only Anti-Abortion For Politics

You may remember this segment of the Samantha Bee’s “Full Frontal” from the primary year of 2016.  We have posted it here several times before. Sam Bee does a great job of explaining how evangelicals were maneuvered into becoming the shock troops against abortion WELL AFTER Roe v. Wade (10 minutes)

This and its companion video posted at the end explain how the Republican Party took evangelicals major issue of race and were able to twist the evangelicals desire to maintain segregation into an anti-abortion movement. 

For many in the evangelical community this is the only issue that matters. However, as noted in Sam Bee’s videos and in many historical treatises, before Republicans were able to use abortion to turn evangelicals into the anti-abortion fanatics they are today, few in the religious community cared nada about abortion except for Catholics. As a matter of fact, abortion was seen as another tool for families.

From out of the past in Politico Magazine, Professor Randall Balmer then at Dartmouth traced the anti-abortion movement back to its segregationist roots:

“One of the most durable myths in recent history is that the religious right, the coalition of conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists, emerged as a political movement in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion. The tale goes something like this: Evangelicals, who had been politically quiescent for decades, were so morally outraged by Roe that they resolved to organize in order to overturn it.

This myth of origins is oft repeated by the movement’s leaders. In his 2005 book, Jerry Falwell, the firebrand fundamentalist preacher, recounts his distress upon reading about the ruling in the Jan. 23, 1973, edition of the Lynchburg News: “I sat there staring at the Roe v. Wade story,” Falwell writes, “growing more and more fearful of the consequences of the Supreme Court’s act and wondering why so few voices had been raised against it.” Evangelicals, he decided, needed to organize.


But the abortion myth quickly collapses under historical scrutiny. In fact, it wasn’t until 1979—a full six years after Roe—that evangelical leaders, at the behest of conservative activist Paul Weyrich, seized on abortion not for moral reasons, but as a rallying-cry to deny President Jimmy Carter a second term. Why? Because the anti-abortion crusade was more palatable than the religious right’s real motive: protecting segregated schools. So much for the new abolitionism. 


Today, evangelicals make up the backbone of the pro-life movement, but it hasn’t always been so. Both before and for several years after Roe, evangelicals were overwhelmingly indifferent to the subject, which they considered a “Catholic issue.” In 1968, for instance, a symposium sponsored by the Christian Medical Society and Christianity Today, the flagship magazine of evangelicalism, refused to characterize abortion as sinful, citing “individual health, family welfare, and social responsibility” as justifications for ending a pregnancy. In 1971, delegates to the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, passed a resolution encouraging “Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.” The convention, hardly a redoubt of liberal values, reaffirmed that position in 1974, one year after Roe, and again in 1976.

So what then were the real origins of the religious right? It turns out that the movement can trace its political roots back to a court ruling, but not Roe v. Wade.

What follows is the story of “Christian schools” founded by evangelicals to keep education segregated having their tax exempt status taken away due to their refusal to integrate. While the action to repeal their tax exemptions were started under Nixon, the ruling came during the Carter administration. So, in a pattern that would soon become familiar, a Democrat takes the blame for a Republican action.

How did abortion tie in? Please read the story to get the full cause and effect. However, Sam Bee’s part two may help fill in (7 minutes):

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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