The following is an EXCERPT from my book, Rescuing Religion from Republican Reason (pictured at right).
This excerpt is from the introductory chapter of the book in which I explain how the progressive Democratic movement was originally a Christian movement led by William Jennings Bryan, and that most Christians used to be Democrats who stood up for the poor and protected them from the greed of the corporate wealthy. But then the Republicans used racial issues and family values to recruit Christians to their side, and it worked amazingly well, unfortunately. Now many Christians see the rhetoric of greed as being one and the same as Christianity, and therefore biblical Christianity is being destroyed along with life for the American working class.
“Many southern Christians turned Republican out of opposition to the civil rights movement. This was the first major step in the conversion of Christians to the Republican Party.
The second and most significant conversion step has been the issue of abortion. For Christians who’ve grown up in the post-civil rights era, racial issues have since had a diminishing influence on their choice of political party as the decades pass. But the Supreme Court’s Row v. Wade decision of 1973, which denied all states the right to outlaw abortion, reigns supreme to this day as the most important issue for politically active Christians. Indeed, it was my number one concern during my years as a Republican and even as an independent voter. In the 1992 presidential contest between George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, I believed that Clinton would be the best president for the living, largely due to the failings of Reaganomics, but I felt that Bush was by far the best president for the unborn. To me, killing was the worst of all sins, and abortion was killing, so I simply could not vote for a candidate who wanted to keep it legal. I walked away from the polls with my head hung low, knowing I had just voted for the interests of the wealthy at the expense of the working class. I then gave up politics for the rest of the 90s, because I felt that voting for either party left blood on my hands.
In 2006, I regained my enthusiasm for politics, but this time favoring the Democrats. There are two factors that, in recent years, have allowed me to vote for Democrats, even those who favor abortion. The first is the Republican failure to overturn Roe v. Wade. When I voted for George H.W. Bush in 1992, I did so because I had been told throughout the 80s that if we continued to elect Republican presidents, they would stock the Supreme Court with conservative justices who would overturn Roe v. Wade once they had a majority in the court. What I didn’t realize was that, as of the 1992 election, 8 of 9 of the sitting Supreme Court justices had been appointed by Republican presidents – two by Bush (Souter and Thomas), three by Reagan (O’Connor, Kennedy, and Scalia), one by Ford (Stevens), and two by Nixon (Blackmon and Rehnquist). One could argue that Republicans had not embraced an anti-abortion stance in the days of Nixon and Ford, so those justices might have been too liberal. But at least one of them received Reagan’s stamp of approval, as he promoted Rehnquist to Chief Justice in 1986. So between Rehnquist and the 5 justices appointed by Reagan and Bush, the court had six Republican-appointed justices from the post Roe v. Wade era. Some have argued that a Democrat-controlled Senate prevented Reagan and Bush from appointing anti-abortion justices, but this is proven untrue in the case of anti-abortion justice Clarence Thomas, appointed in 1991 by Bush and a Democrat-controlled Senate. The fact is that, prior to President Obama’s appointment of liberal justice Sonia Sotomayor in 2009, at least seven of the nine justices on the court from 1991-2009 were Republican-appointed. Yet, Roe v. Wade was not overturned. The Republican-dominated Supreme Court didn’t even try. We were lied to. My anti-abortion vote for George H.W. Bush went to waste.
Apparently, abortion opposition has been nothing more than a vote-getter for the Republicans. They use their anti-abortion stance to get the Christian vote, but once they’re in office, they focus on empowering corporate predators to prey upon the powerless. (I use the term corporate predator, not to imply that all corporate people are predators, but to specify a type of predator, i.e. not natural or sexual.) This is what Ronald Reagan did. Few people today know that Reagan was one of the first governors in the country to sign legalized abortion into law when he did so for the state of California in 1967. It resulted in 500,000 – 2 million abortions by time of Roe v. Wade in 1973 (estimates vary on this number). He changed his abortion stance later, while running for president, but once elected, he did little to stop abortions, but did much to serve the interests of the wealthy. I often wonder if the Republicans have ever had any intention of banning abortion. I wonder if they might fear the abolition of abortion, because doing so would likely add up to 10 million unaborted children to welfare payrolls over the course of a decade, and we know that anti-tax Republicans don’t want to pay for that. In fact, they threw fits in 2014 when 50,000 Central American child refugees came to the U.S., because supporting them was too much of a financial burden to bear. Yet that burden pales in comparison to that of supporting millions of unaborted, impoverished children. Furthermore, most of those impoverished children would grow up to vote for Democrats – another reason for the Republicans to fear their existence.
In the 2012 election, some Republican presidential candidates came out in favor of an anti-abortion “personhood” amendment to the U.S. Constitution, since it’s now obvious that conservative Supreme Court justices will never overturn Roe v. Wade (the Court has been eager to declare that corporations are people, but not so eager to declare that unborn children are people – this might tell us something about Republican priorities). Mitt Romney’s vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, offered strong support for the amendment, thus giving anti-abortion Christians a reason to vote for the Romney-Ryan ticket. What Ryan and other Republicans failed to tell us is that the president of the United States has no vote whatsoever on the passage of a constitutional amendment. The U.S. Congress can propose an amendment with a two-thirds majority, but they cannot ratify it. Only the states can both propose (with a two-thirds vote) and ratify (with a three-quarters vote) a constitutional amendment. So it makes sense to vote for anti-abortion candidates at the state level, but it makes little sense to do so at the federal level, and it makes no sense to do so at the presidential level. Electing a president based on his or her abortion view is a total waste of a vote.
The second factor that has enabled me to vote for Democrats who favor legalized abortion is Ecclesiastes 4:1-3, which says, “Again I saw all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun. Look, the tears of the oppressed—with no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power—with no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead, who have already died, more fortunate than the living, who are still alive; but better than both is the one who has not yet been, and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun.” This is not to say, “If you love your children, abort them.” But it does tell us that a life of suffering in this world is worse than never having been born. This passage contradicts the popular idea that death is the worst thing there is. It tells us that a life of suffering is the worst thing there is. Politically, it contradicts the popular Christian notion that abortion is the most important political issue, while greed and oppression of the poor are minor issues that must always take a back seat to abortion. This passage, along with many other passages that I will share with you in upcoming chapters, teaches us that oppression of the poor is the most important of all political and social issues. In fact, by my count, the Bible contains 96 passages that address greed and oppression of the poor, compared to only 64 passages that address adultery, fornication, and homosexuality combined. That’s how big of an issue this is!
Oppression isn’t merely poverty, as many people assume. Oppression is hardship imposed by the powerful upon the powerless, especially hardship in the workplace. In the Small Government chapter, I will detail the hardships of the working class throughout American history and how only the strong arm of the law has spared them (and many of us) from oppression. It’s right for leaders to protect the powerless from the powerful, as the Democrats have since the 1890s, and it’s wrong for leaders to empower the wealthy to prey upon the powerless, as the Republicans have since the 1870s (except, perhaps, during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, etc., when they embraced the New Deal).
In light of Bible quotes like Ecclesiastes 4:1-3, I’ve found it difficult to understand how many politically-conservative Christians will, through government, only protect the life of the fetus from murder, but not from other causes of death and suffering. They will not protect it from harm due to malnutrition of the mother during pregnancy. They will not protect the child from any suffering outside the womb except for assault and murder. Even in the case of pregnancies caused by rape, many conservatives believe abortion should be illegal. Yet when the child grows up in poverty, because its father is in prison for rape, and its mother is addicted to drugs, because she struggles to deal with having to raise the child caused by the rape she suffered, many conservative Christians believe it’s wrong for the very government that mandated the child’s birth to ensure that child’s survival through the supply of food, shelter and clothing, because that would be evil socialism. So it’s not the life or well-being of the child that’s important to Republicans, but only the technicality of death by abortion. As we’ll see in the next chapter, God’s primary concern is the well-being of those created in His image, not narrow-minded adherence to technicalities and man-made principles.”