Monday Miscellany, 11/15/24

Monday Miscellany, 11/15/24 January 15, 2024

The presidential race begins, the disunited Methodists, and the pro-abortion strategy.

The Presidential Race Begins

After months of candidates jockeying for position, the race for president officially begins, as states select their delegates to the national convention.  Tonight is the Iowa caucus.

Some states pick their delegates as pledged to a particular candidate by a primary election.  Some do it with a caucus, in which rank and file members of the party meet in their various regions, often in someone’s living room.

Next week on January 23 New Hampshire will have the nation’s first primary.  Then in February, Nevada, South Carolina, will select candidates in rapid succession.   Then March features the big haul:  After Idaho and Missouri have their caucuses on March 2 and North Dakota caucuses on March 4, comes Super Tuesday on March 5, in which sixteen states and one territory allot a total of 1,215 delegates.  The process drags on, month by month, through the first of June.  For the complete schedule of primaries and caucuses, go here.

The Republicans will select a total of 2,469 delegates, making the magic number to win the nomination 1,235.  The Democrats will have 3,788 pledged delegates, with a magic number of 1,895.  (An additional 774 “automatic delegates” consisting of party officials can vote if the election goes to a second ballot, which would require 2,258 votes to win.)

The Republican nominating convention will be July 15-18 in Milwaukee.  The Democrats will meet on August 19-22 in Chicago.

Then the voters decide on November 5.

Any predictions as to how the election year will go?

The Disunited Methodists

December 31 was the deadline for congregations to leave the United Methodist Church in an “amicable” split over homosexuality and Biblical authority.

As of last count, 7,660 congregations have left.   That comes to 25% of the 30,543 congregations the denomination had in 2021.

What I don’t understand is why the conservatives who wanted to uphold the church’s official teaching about sexual morality had to leave.  Why weren’t the progressives who rejected that teaching the ones to leave?  I suppose doctrinal positions are hard to change by a vote, even though three out of four Methodist congregations would have favored that.

This was a brilliant strategy for the progressives:  Get rid of the conservatives, so that they can then change the official teaching any way they wish.  And they get to keep the institutional assets–the seminaries, publishing house, offices, brand, etc., etc.  The conservatives, some of whom are joining a new “Global Methodist” denomination while others are just going independent, will have to start from scratch.

How odd that our church-splitting controversies today are not over theology but over morality.  Specifically, sexual morality.  Of course, this too is theological, whether Christians should follow the Bible or conform to the world.  Then again, the conservatives were long willing to accept theological changes–the historical-critical approach to Scripture in their seminaries; tolerance of ministers who reject historical Christian doctrine–but are drawing the line at accepting homosexuality.  They should have drawn the line earlier on theology, in which case the moral controversies would take care of themselves.

The Pro-Abortion Strategy

Overturning Roe v. Wade turned the question of abortion over to the states, but when the question is put to voters in state referendums even red states are going pro-abortion.  Why is that?

In a story for the Wall Street Journal, How Abortion-Rights Backers Changed Their Message—and Started Winning [behind a paywall], Molly Ball describes how pro-abortion activists consulted psychologists, linguists, and focus groups on how to more successfully frame their message.

Instead of talking about “choice,” which connotes the fixed positions of the past, or insisting on “rights,” which are abstract, or trying to cover up the concept by speaking not about abortion but about “Women’s Reproductive Health Care,” pro-abortion activists formulated a new strategy:  talk about the issue in terms of  “values,” especially the American value of “freedom.”

Pro-abortion ads now pull at the heart strings with sad anecdotes about problem pregnancies designed to evoke compassion.  In Kentucky, an ad featured a young woman telling about how she got pregnant when she was 12 after being raped by her stepfather.  Said an activist, “It’s not about labels, pro-this, pro-that. It’s about what you think should happen to the little girl in that situation.”

The most effective slogans invoke “freedom.”  In Ohio, an ad maintained that the referendum was about “ensuring families—not government—have the freedom to make their own personal decisions.”

Notice how the line co-opts the conservative mindset, invoking families (“family values”), freedom (“the Freedom Caucus”), and suspicion of the government.

Framing the issue in this way has become so successful that pro-abortion organizations are changing their names accordingly.  One of the leading groups in the movement, NARAL (National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws), which earlier tacked on to its name NARAL Pro-Choice America, is now callings itself Reproductive Freedom for All.  The organization that pushed through legalized abortion in Kansas was called Kansans for Constitutional Freedom.  And the group in Arkansas currently promoting a referendum in that state is called Arkansans for Limited Government.

Brand quotes one activist:  “The ‘freedom’ argument both speaks to a value we have and undercuts a Republican brand advantage.”



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