Hey, remember when evangelicals were pro-choice because of the Bible? What a difference 30 years makes

Jonathan Dudley’s essay at CNN today makes a good follow-up post to what we discussed here yesterday in “Revisionist memory: White evangelicals have always been at war with abortion.”

Dudley’s CNN column is titled, “When evangelicals were pro-choice.” Here’s the kicker:

Evangelicals would benefit from pausing to look back at their own history. In doing so, they might consider the possibility that they aren’t submitting to the dictates of a timeless biblical truth, but instead, to the goals of a well-organized political initiative only a little more than 30 years old.

And here’s a bigger chunk from Dudley leading up to that conclusion. What’s astonishing here, again, is not just the enormity of this reversal, but the creepy way that no acknowledgement of it is ever permitted:

By 1984, it became clear these efforts had worked. That year, InterVarsity Press published the book Brave New People, which re-stated the 1970 evangelical consensus: abortion was a tough issue and warranted in many circumstances.

An avalanche of protests met the publication, forcing InterVarsity Press to withdraw a book for the first time in its history.

“The heresy of which I appear to be guilty,” the author lamented, “is that I cannot state categorically that human/personal life commences at day one of gestation. … In order to be labeled an evangelical, it is now essential to hold a particular view of the status of the embryo and fetus.”

What the author quickly realized was that the “biblical view on abortion” had dramatically shifted over the course of a mere 15 years, from clearly stating life begins at birth to just as clearly teaching it begins at conception.

During the 2008 presidential election, Purpose Driven Life author Rick Warren demonstrated the depth of this shift when he proclaimed: “The reason I believe life begins at conception is ‘cause the Bible says it.”

It is hard to underestimate the political significance of this reversal. It has required the GOP presidential nominee to switch his views from pro-choice to pro-life to be a viable candidate. It has led conservative Christians to vote for politicians like Atkin and Mourdock for an entire generation.

And on November 6, it will lead millions of evangelicals to support Mitt Romney over Barack Obama out of the conviction that the Bible unequivocally forbids abortion.

But before casting their ballots, such evangelicals would benefit from pausing to look back at their own history. In doing so, they might consider the possibility that they aren’t submitting to the dictates of a timeless biblical truth, but instead, to the goals of a well-organized political initiative only a little more than 30 years old.

What happened “a little more than 30 years” ago? Dudley explains a bit of that history in his column, drawing from the longer discussion in his book Broken Words. Alan Bean recalls another part of that history. So does Gary Younge. And Randall Balmer. And Linda Greenhouse & Reva B. Siegel.

But maybe the best summary of that history is just to quote Spike and Denzel: “I say and I say it again, you’ve been had. You’ve been took. You’ve been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amok.”

See earlier here:

The ‘biblical view that’s younger than the Happy meal

Mischief follows in partisan Bible translations

False witnesses

False witnesses 2

Fantasy role-playing games

Killing in the name of

 

  • Lunch Meat

    reject the unwanted responsibility of pregnancy

    The fact that you use such loaded and biased terms for the position you disagree with is proof enough you have no interest in understanding or having a fair exchange of ideas.

  • Héctor Muñoz Huerta

     Great, let’s stop.

  • http://heliosstudio.ca/ Paul d’Aoust

    I wanted to weigh in with support for Héctor’s explanation of Catholic principles. I don’t know much about the terrible situation in Ireland — it was a long time ago that I read a news article about it — but I think it really shouldn’t have happened, even within a Catholic moral framework, because “the Catholic church doesn’t oppose abortions when the life of the mother is compromised” — more specifically, if an abortion is an unintended side-effect of a medical procedure to save the woman (e.g., removal of the ovaries in the case of an ectopic pregnancy), then it’s sad but totally acceptable.

  • EllieMurasaki

    “Sad but totally acceptable” describes EVERY ABORTION EVER.

  • cynthia curran

    True, Walter Martin who was big in Orange County and died about 25 years ago wrote a little pamphlet is abortion always murder, coming from the East Coast he thought it was oK to do abortion in the case of murder and rape. Martin would have lived longer about another 15 years, evangelicals that admire him a lot would have end up with a more moderate position. Rick Warren would have had a different view.


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