Did a Liberal Catholic Campaign Became a Conservative Evangelical Cause?

I all but stole the above title from an article I recently read. I changed the first word from “How” to “Did” and made it a question.

It relates to abortion. Anyone who understands American history knows that at one time the Evangelicals, with whom the Conservative Catholics now form a “Club for Trump,” once did not have a particular fondness for those who professed allegiance to the Pope. It was during the time of the second coming of the KKK that began in 1915 and grew to millions in the 1920s that white Protestants saw as their main target people who were destroying the morals of our nation because they were not sufficiently American. These were the Catholics and the Jews. This hatred was virulent not only in the South but in the mid-West.

Now  all is forgiven or probably forgotten. It took a while but the abortion issue brought them together. But what is most amazing about this, while the Conservative Evangelicals and Conservative Catholics find common ground, the issue was first brought to the fore by Liberal Catholics as the article notes.

Early on the article notes: “In September 1972 several hundred young, liberal pro-lifers gathered on the Washington Mall to protest against abortion. . . .  All of the speakers—ranging from Erma Clardy Craven, an African American Democrat who chaired the Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to the Rev. Charles Carroll, an Episcopal priest from Berkeley, California, who opposed the death penalty—were liberals. The antiwar Lutheran minister Richard John Neuhaus gave a speech denouncing both abortion and the war in Vietnam, . . .  To the leaders of the National Youth Pro-Life Coalition (NYPLC), the organization that orchestrated the demonstration, it seemed unthinkable that anyone would equate the pro-life cause with political conservatism. At the time, many of the nation’s leading advocates of abortion legalization were Republicans, and many  Democrats . . . were defenders of the right to life for the unborn. “We consider ourselves an extremely liberal group,” Susan Bastyr, a co-founder of the NYPLC, declared. Neuhaus concurred. “The anti-abortion forces are not instruments of political and social conservatism, . . . Rather they are related to the protest against the Indochina war, the militarization of American life, and the social crimes perpetrated against the poor.” 

What happened?

It seemed the Evangelicals could not go along with the liberal view because they disagreed with the stance opposing the militarization of American life and had little concern with the social crimes perpetuated against the poor. “Conservatives such as Reagan and Helms did not subscribe to the Catholic social vision that had shaped the pro-life movement’s early politics, nor did they often agree with Catholic bishops on any item except for abortion. Reagan, for instance, frequently faced criticism from Catholic bishops during his first term for his administration’s cuts in social welfare spending and for his nuclear arms buildup.” 

It appeared then that “most of the evangelicals who enlisted in the pro-life cause in the late 1970s and 1980s were political conservatives, so after they joined the campaign, they converted the pro-life movement to the politics of the right. Politically progressive Catholics viewed the campaign against abortion as a human rights cause, but evangelicals reframed it as a campaign to restore the nation’s moral order.” As noted, restoring the nation’s moral order was one of the aims of the KKK

I took from it that the American bishops in the Catholic Church gave up on the idea of human rights, advocating social programs to help the poor, women’s and gay rights, rights of transgender folk (have not heard any condemnation of the new Arkansas law), stopped opposing war and the death penalty, and otherwise only concerned themselves with one issue, abortion, so to ally themselves with the Evangelicals.

The article is well  worth reading.

2 thoughts on “Did a Liberal Catholic Campaign Became a Conservative Evangelical Cause?

  1. Khalid

    Welcome back, Bill. I see your indefatigable fingers are as strong as ever. Do you support the death penalty? How about US imperialism? Could you point to the source that condemns Plato and Aristotle for infanticide? If the philosophers, themselves, supported killing deformed babies, please, state, which, of their works, articulates that notion.

  2. william m. connolly

    Do you believe that Catholic Bishops “gave up on the idea of human rights”, gave up “advocating social programs to help the poor” gave up on “women’s rights”, “(S)topped opposing war and the death penalty and otherwise only concerned themselves with one issue, abortion, so to ally themselves with Evangelicals”?

    Sheer sophistry warrants no retort. Where does this anti-Catholic animus come from?

    The Church’s teachings are clear: procured abortions are “evil”; marriage is the union of one man and one woman. The Church does not support gay marriages, but welcomes all, homosexuals and heterosexuals, all sinners. Many religions concur with the Catholics and Evangelicals on their core teachings. Love your neighbor! Teach truths!

    History: The Church has opposed abortion since the First Century A.D., and for over two millennium. Pope Francis reaffirms today that every intentional killing of the unborn is “evil.”

    Legal History: In America, every State and Territories in their first statues prohibited abortions or restricted them except to save life. These were not Catholic states. It was the liberals who expanded “abortion rights” beginning in the 1960s, although all States still retained some restrictions.

    1973: Roe v. Wade swept away all state laws and substituted abortion-on-demand throughout pregnancy, based on the unscientific concept that only “potential life” grew in a woman’s womb. Roe v. Wade/Doe v. Bolton legalized late term abortions if an abortionist finds “a threat” to a woman’s “physical, psychological, emotional, or familial well- being.” “Familial” is fairly interpreted as financial.

    Roe v. Wade found that even at 24-26 weeks when the fetus is “viable”, it is still only “potential human life”, or at least not fully a human being with a right to life. Google images of “fully formed” 12-week-old fetuses held in hand?

    Science: Embryology proves every individual human life begins at conception, as a one-cell organism, a zygote, with 46 unique chromosomes.

    To the pro-abortionists I ask: Why not lift a finger, lift a pen, lift your voice to try to save the life of one unborn human being?

    To vegetarians who oppose the killing of animals: Why support the killing of innocent human beings?

    To pro-choice Democrats: why not choose principles over political affiliations?

    To the Medical Profession: Why not make every effort to save the lives of both mothers and the unborn?

    To rationalists: Why not support infanticide? Plato and Aristotle supported “infanticide” of “the deformed.” What is the difference between a newborn and unborn? In a crib? In a womb?

    Scripture says: “choose life” over death; “I knit you in the womb; I knew you before you were born”; and pregnant women as “with child.” Remember the Commandment: “Thou shall not kill.”

    More History: “The Declaration of Independence (July 4, 1776) says “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Life was put before liberty, evincing a reverence for God-given life; inalienable. Roe made human life disposable.

    George Washington said (1798) on Thanksgiving, that is the “the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.”

    George Washington said, (1796): “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

    John Adams 1798 said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people.”

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