With the Supreme Court overturning abortion rights, the pro-life movement has been celebrating the outcome as a victory for religious advocacy. But when Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, legalizing abortion was supported by a sizable majority of conservatives, 68 percent of whom thought the decision should be between a woman and her doctor.
It was school segregation, not abortion, that brought many Christian Republicans together in prayer and a quest for political power. When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 gave the federal government the power to enforce desegregation, there was a mass exodus out of public schools in the South. Numerous Christian private alternative schools opened with the explicit promise to enforce a whites-only admission policy.
When President Richard Nixon ordered the Internal Revenue Service to deny tax exemptions to all segregated schools, the religious right was furious. But because segregation was no longer palatable on the national stage in 1979, our affable religious right seized on banning abortion. So, in order to retain political power, many of our far-right friends moved from race discrimination to gender discrimination.
Founding Father James Madison said, “Religion and government will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”