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Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey recently signed America’s most draconian anti-abortion law. This latest in a series of red state efforts to overturn Roe v Wade makes abortion a Class A felony, threatening doctors who perform the procedure with up to 99 years in prison. Alabama’s law denies abortion even in cases of rape and incest. Despite the fact that Pat Robertson, longtime culture warrior and anti-abortionist, called it “extreme,” this law is the product of a long-term Evangelical sell out to political power.
For more than 40 years, abortion has been used as a political strategy by the Republican Party. Co-opted leaders like Jerry Falwell Sr., James Dobson, Francis Schaeffer, Ralph Reed, and Pat Robertson have reduced the painful, personal, and multifaceted social factors and ethical questions surrounding abortion to a simplistic good and evil binary, making abortion a partisan cause around which social and political power could be built.
Power - Wedge - Issue - Evangelicals - Voters
And they have been extraordinarily successful in building power. No cultural wedge issue has been more effective in politicizing Evangelicals and turning them into dedicated Republican voters. No issue has been more instrumental in enmeshing Evangelicals into the mechanics of Republican politics. And nothing has been more detrimental to the Evangelical witness or to the cause of the gospel than the political capture of Evangelicalism by the Republican Party.
People of good conscience wrestle with the ethics of abortion. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, for example, does not believe abortion is equal to murder. Some Presbyterians concede that they don’t know when life begins. Others are convinced that Genesis 2:7, “the Lord God formed humans from the dust of the ground and breathed into their nostrils the breath of life” is the definitive biblical statement. Of course, most conservative Evangelicals believe that life begins at conception. Along with the history of oppression...
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