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Paula Bolyard

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April 2, 2014 - 7:00 am
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Dr[1]. Francis Schaeffer (1)

Jamelle Bouie argued in Slate recently that “Conservative evangelicals didn’t always care much about abortion or contraception.” Bouie’s article relies largely on the memoir of Jonathan Dudley, who claimed that evangelicals were mostly pro-choice from the 1960s until the rise of the religious right in politics in the 1980s:

It took the organizational might of Falwell and his “Moral Majority”—as well as evangelical anti-abortion figures such as Francis Schaeffer—to galvanize evangelicals around other “culture war” issues such as feminism, homosexuality, and school prayer. This in turn led to alliances with largely Catholic organizations like the National Right to Life Committee.

At First Things Dale M. Coulter concedes that there was a shift in Christian thought on the issues of abortion and contraception beginning in the 1960s but disagrees with the conclusion that Christians were historically absent from debates about the morality of abortion throughout history and in the decades leading up to the 1980s. Coulter cites the concerns over severe birth defects during the time that thalidomide was administered to expectant mothers, concerns over population control and the perception that these were “Catholic” issues as reasons for some of the lax views on abortion during that time, but gives numerous examples of Christians who were vocal opponents. ”This lax view,” Coulter says, “was not universally held even at the time.”

Coulter says Dudley does not take into account contextual factors in history or the history of Christian thought on the issues. “To say Evangelicals were latecomers to opposing abortion represents a selective reading of history, and a false one,” Coulter argues.

He does, however, agree with Bouie that Schaeffer’s 1983 book, Whatever Happened to the Human Race? (written with Dr. C. Everett Koop) was a “catalyst for a return to a staunchly pro-life position” in evangelical Christian thought.

Schaeffer, a philosopher, theologian, and pastor, helped to lead Christian thought back to the traditional view that life is sacred.  He made his case through spiritual, legal, and intellectual arguments, framing the issue of abortion within the context of human rights, and contrasting the naturalistic worldview to a theistic view that affirmed the dignity of the unborn and their right to life. Schaeffer wrote,

“If man is not made in the image of God, nothing, then, stands in the way of inhumanity. There is no good reason why mankind should be perceived as special. Human life is cheapened.”

In a video series based on the book, Schaeffer makes the case for the rights of the unborn and their connection to the larger human community:

Abortion is not only a religious issue, it is a human issue. The fate of the unborn is the fate of the human race. We are all one human family and thus, when the rights of any part of that human family are denied it’s of concern to all of us. What is involved here is the very essence of what true freedom and true rights are all about. Life is sacred — the first, and most precious gift that God gives us…the term ‘abortion on demand’ is a euphemism  for man playing God.

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Top Rated Comments   
Nonsense.

The slate article (and consider the source, please ) says that abortion didn't become a political issue until it became a political issue. Gee, who knew?

In reality the christian religion has always opposed killing the innocent but abortion, as such, was a back burner issue until it became a widely used method of birth control.

The reason it was largely left out of polite conversation was that it has its appropriate uses. Thou shalt not kill - but sometimes you have too. When the decision moved from the realm of occasional necessity to that of common convenience it became a political issue, but the religious position on it didn't change.

That's the history - but there's an unusual political twist to it too. The left loved eugenics (WIlson and FDR both agreed in public with Marx, Hitler, Stalin et al on the need to breed better humans). Abortion in the U.S. today is modern day eugencs - 9 out of every 10 babies killed are non white - and thus heavily favored by the left for the same reason people like Ms. Sanger loved eugenics: narcissistic racism.

16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Riddle me this.... If Christians did not care about abortion, why was it illegal in all fifty states and D.C.? Why did the atheist progressives have to go to the court to overturn laws prohibiting abortion, rather than going through the legislatures?
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
True Christians have always opposed abortion--ever since Christianity began. The Didache (1st centure Christian document that probably pre-dates just about all of the New Testament), says, "Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not corrupt youth; thou shalt not commit fornication; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not use soothsaying; thou shalt not practice sorcery; thou shalt not kill a child by abortion, neither shalt thou slay it when born; thou shalt not covet the goods of thy neighbour..." (The Didache, 2, 2).

The church has simply forgotten for how long the struggle between life and death has actually been going on. We tend to think that we must have invented abortion, because of our ignorance of History. Heck, the battle didn't even begin in the first century. The Hippocratic Oath (late 5th century BC) says, "I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion". The modern Hippocratic Oath, of course, has this section removed. So, No, it is not true that 50 years ago Chistians didn't care about abortion. It was simply that 50 years ago, the battle for Life had been thought won in this country, and Christians slept at their posts.

Waidmann
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
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50 years ago abortion was basically illegal unless you went to a back alley butcher or a kindly doctor risked his professional career and jail time to help out the person who had made an mistake. Usually girls went to visit their elderly relative or went away to school to have their baby and then place it for adoption. Christians ran many of the adoption agencies and orphanages for these unwanted kids. Abortion did away with this --now we just kill our babies ant any stage of existence so that some selfish individual can continue on with their life and Americans he to adopt from abroad. What has changed is that the state has laced itself in the middle of something that should not be the state's province. By politicizing abortion the state has placed the lives of children in opposition to the vote and the assumption of power by a highly dictatorial political party which will even allow killing of children to buy a vote.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
In the Catholic school I attended we had religion class every day. I still remember in the 5th or 6th grade we were taught about abortion and that it's murdering the baby. That was in the 1950s. This isn't new teaching.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
At the risk of flogging a nearly dead thread, one or two finesses stick up and invite a hammer.
Relying on the Didache... good grief! It was lost to history for over 1500 years and was never part of the canon let alone the N Testament; its significance, put mildly, is widely disputed. But to today's Elmer Gantry's it's a handy tool, used to bolt-on the convenient cant-du-jour.

At the other end of the time line, to select the 1970's as a starting point is simply wrong -- and savors of special pleading whether deliberate or not. The Salon guy's argument is that the new-found rage of the evangelical emerged in the 60's not the 70's' -- big difference. Surely nobody, not even those sounding-off loudly, would argue that 1920 was much like 1913, or 1946 like 1938. It is truer to say that by the late 1970's the pious dolts in the flyover re-targeted their hatred of Catholics to hatred of women. I don't believe that either, any more than I support R vs W. But it makes the point: the harsh truth is that many zealots make it up as they go along. Faith truly is blind, isn't it?

The practical effect: zealots like those on display will lose yet another election but will still feel good about themselves, unable to connect the dots as ever.
No way to run a country.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
My Family course acted as though Conservatives/Republicans supported contraceptions and abortion when covering Griswold v. Connecticut, while the Democrats were against it. I got it was largely due to Catholicism for the latter group, but I was pretty certain Christianity was against abortion and contraceptives. Certainly, I and my mom, both Catholics were against it, as was my dad who was Episcopalian.

I get the feeling that my Family course as well as Slate was wrong at the very least.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, Paula it is not true that 50 years ago Christians did not care about abortions.
Slate is wrong - as usual.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
So when do we stop listening to those committed to the destruction of the conservative movement, and more specifically, Christians in public life??? They have no right to comment about their ideological opponents, and have no motivation to tell the truth. I am so sick of be characterized by those who sit on the opposite side of the aisle.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like Galatians 5:19

The word translated "sorcery" here is the Greek word from which we get "Pharmacy". One of the main products of a pharmacist in those days was abortafacients. Christians have fought against abortion from the beginning - as did the Jews before them.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was active in the pro life movement in the early 1970s. It is untrue that evangelicals didn't care. But they believed that the solution to abortion and all other social problems was evangelization.

What they failed to see was that evangelization would become progressively harder as more and more people lived lives in which traditional ethical claims of right or duty were meaningless. Later they woke up.

Indeed, not long after, the very idea of free will came under attack. Free choice now means that one is not impeded when behaving in whatever inherently meaningless way one chooses. Unborn children are not of value in themselves, but no one is; the government assigns value to certain types of persons - not them.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
I dunno about Christians and abortion. I do recall the first appearance of the nutcase Randall Terry:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randall_Terry

As to why 50 years ago, that basically takes us to before the pill, and premarital sex was a LOT more rare so there was a LOT less call for abortion so attitudes could be different when it occurred so rarely.

What is very curious is that it ended up as a Republican, conservative issue. It could easily have become a Democratic, progressive issue, as they more like to dictate who can do what to whom, but I guess even the hint of pro-religious beliefs mixed in, got it purged from the Democratic rainbow so it ended up Republican as Hobson's Choice.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
"What is very curious is that it ended up as a Republican, conservative issue. It could easily have become a Democratic, progressive issue, as they more like to dictate who can do what to whom..."

Think about it. You just answered your question. It DID become a Democrat Progressive issue BECAUSE they "like to dictate who can do what to whom."

And it was the Democrats who changed the status quo of protecting the unborn.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
" premarital sex was a LOT more rare" Snicker. Study history, premarital and extra-marital sex has always been a problem, and people have always tried to find ways to avoid the consequences. None of this is new, indeed in many ways we are simply returning to the practices of the Roman Empire in its decline.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
He didn't say it didn't happen. He didn't say it wasn't a problem.

The left likes to pretend that it's always been at the same level of promiscuity, regardless of the prevailing social morés. That's hogwash.

I expected better of you.

16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Abortion was legal in Ohio (my home state) before Roe vs Wade and not real controversial when it was made legal. I always thought it was the Supreme Court declaring it a right that caused strong opposition among Christians. Rights come from God. Sin can be legal and still be a sin but calling it a right makes it morally OK, or even good. Perhaps confusing the legalization of a sin with a human right was part of the attraction when the justices made the decision. It would, in effect, secularize constitutional rights which Americans always believed came from God.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Abortion was NOT legal in Ohio before Roe v. Wade.

Link:
http://womenshistory.about.com/od/abortionuslegal/a/abortion.htm

"By 1965, all fifty states banned abortion, with some exceptions which varied by state: to save the life of the mother, in cases of rape or incest, or if the fetus was deformed."

Nice try, thought.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
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