Never Forget The Racist Roots Of The ‘Religious Right’
Slate‘s Amanda Marcotte wants to set you straight if you believe that the movement to strip women of reproductive choice was the impetus behind the rise of the “religious right”:
The modern religious right formed, practically overnight, as a rapid response to the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade.
Or, at least, that’s how the story goes.
The reality, Randall Balmer, a Dartmouth professor writing for Politico Magazine, says, is actually a little less savory to 21st century Americans: The religious right, who liked to call themselves the “moral majority” at the time, actually organized around fighting to protect Christian schools from being desegregated. It wasn’t Roe v. Wade that woke the sleeping dragon of the evangelical vote. It was Green v. Kennedy, a 1970 decision stripping tax-exempt status from “segregation academies”—private Christian schools that were set up in response to Brown v. Board of Education—where the practice of barring black students continued.
So why the perception that it’s all been about Roe v. Wade?
Balmer argues that [Paul] Weyrich, in particular, was a sharp enough political thinker to realize that pro-segregation sentiment was enough to get the ball rolling, “but they needed a different issue if they wanted to mobilize evangelical voters on a large scale.” They took their new coalition of evangelicals and pointed them in the direction of fighting abortion. The strategy worked. In 1978, religious right leaders got their first victories by pushing the anti-abortion agenda, defeating Democrats in statewide elections in Minnesota and Iowa in campaigns that focused heavily on abortion.
You can check out Balmer’s full Politico piece here.