Saturday, July 25, 2015

when the god of the stupid infected the american body politic...,


HuffPo |  In the late 1960s and early 1970s, evangelical Christians widely believed the Bible says life begins at birth and supported looser abortion policies.

That was my argument in an Oct. 31 op-ed for CNN, titled, "When evangelicals were pro-choice." Understandably, not all evangelical leaders were pleased. Mark Galli at Christianity Today called the op-ed a "fake history" in the title of a response article, even while going on to say the facts in the article are actually true. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, issued a more honest response, conceding that many "evangelicals did hold to embarrassingly liberal positions on the abortion issue (including, I must admit, the Southern Baptist Convention)." But both said that the change in evangelical opinion was not driven by a late-1970s political mobilization effort.

Given the enduring importance of evangelical anti-abortion activism, the reality and significance of this history deserves fuller discussion.

That mainstream evangelical leaders widely held liberal views on abortion at the time is undeniable. These were the dominant evangelical views.

In 1968, Christianity Today and the Christian Medical Society hosted a gathering of evangelical leaders from across the country for a symposium on birth control. The purpose was to set forth "the conservative or evangelical position within Protestantism" from scholars who "shared a common acceptance of the Bible as the final authority on moral issues." The joint statement resulting from the conference, titled "A Protestant Affirmation on the Control of Human Reproduction," included the consensus of attendees on abortion.

"Whether the performance of an induced abortion is sinful we are not agreed," it declared, "but about the necessity of it and permissibility for it under certain circumstances we are in accord." Circumstances justifying abortion included "family welfare, and social responsibility." "When principles conflict," they affirmed, "the preservation of fetal life ... may have to be abandoned to maintain full and secure family life."