A fascinating article in The Guardian claims that the Christian Right was formed not in response to Roe v. Wade, but in response to the rescinding of the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University, a whites-only religious institution. This is important in understanding the latest right-wing pseudo-scandal regarding queries by the IRS about the prayers used by certain anti-abortion groups.
(based on a post at Mercury Rising)
Sarah Posner in the Guardian writes :
For anyone who knows the history of the religious right, the possible revocation of tax-exempt status for claimed religious belief is a potent flashpoint. In his book, Thy Kingdom Come: An Evangelical’s Lament, religion historian Randall Balmer argues that contrary to conventional wisdom, which Balmar calls the “abortion myth”, evangelical voters were not propelled to political activism by the supreme court’s 1973 decision in Roe v Wade.
Instead, the issue that mobilized these voters was the IRS’s 1975 revocation of the tax-exempt status of the segregationist Bob Jones University. Rightwing religious architect Paul Weyrich told Balmer that it was “the federal government’s moves against Christian schools” that actually “enraged the Christian community”.
Although various Roman Catholic groups denounced the ruling, and Christianity Today complained that the Roe decision "runs counter to the moral teachings of Christianity through the ages but also to the moral sense of the American people," the vast majority of evangelical leaders said virtually nothing about it; many of those who did comment actually applauded the decision.This history is becoming more interesting because of the current IRS hearings, in which are emerging another pseudo-scandal, namely the supposed harassment of anti-abortion groups by the IRS. Posner:
At last week's ways and means committee hearing on the Internal Revenue Service's treatment of tax-exempt organizations, Representative Aaron Schock (an Illinois Republican) helped propel a new firestorm across conservative media: in addition to tea party groups, Schock maintained, anti-abortion organizations were also being subjected to "horrible instances of IRS abuse of power, political and religious bias, and repression of their constitutional rights"._____________________
The following is a bit of an aside. Aaron Schock is most famous for having prominently supported the military coup against the elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya. From Democracy Now:
Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina and three Republican congressmen are heading to Honduras to meet with the coup government in defiance of the Obama administration. Senator John Kerry, the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, initially blocked the trip from happening but relented late yesterday. Also traveling will be Republican Congressmen Aaron Schock of Illinois, Peter Roskam of Illinois and Doug Lamborn of Colorado. All four have been vocal supporters of the June coup that ousted the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya.So, what's Schock, representing IL-18 (Springfield, Peoria, Bloomington), the definitely not-gay, anti-environmental non-candidate for governor, doing carrying water for the Honduran coup and for groups like, hypothetically, Operation Rescue? And, since we know that abortion/contraception may have been a significant issue in the Honduran coup, is there a connection? (see also here for the role of Opus Dei, presumably in the form of Cardinal Maradiaga, in overturning the decision of Zelaya to permit emergency contraception).
These aren't rhetorical questions. I'd like to know.
At any rate, for the immediate future, the relevant point is raised by Posner:
Questioning anti-abortion groups [by the IRS] – even the content of their prayers – could very likely have been aimed at determining whether these groups engaged in activities outside abortion clinics that ran afoul of the law. Because of the history of abortion clinic violence by those claiming a religious imperative, the IRS could have been attempting to determine whether the groups' activities were in violation of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (Face), a 1994 law which prohibits the use of force, the threat of force, or physical obstruction to injure, intimidate or interfere with someone's access to or provision of reproductive health services.The rise of the Christian Right never was about abortion. It was about defending their tax gimmes.