Randall Balmer punctures the religious right’s self-flattering account of its origins in a piece for Politico’s magazine. The leaders of the movement have argued, after the fact, that their political involvement stemmed from the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Roe v. Wade. But Balmer knows better:
It wasn’t until 1979—a full six years after Roe—that evangelical leaders, at the behest of conservative activist Paul Weyrich, seized on abortion not for moral reasons, but as a rallying-cry to deny President Jimmy Carter a second term. Why? Because the anti-abortion crusade was more palatable than the religious right’s real motive: protecting segregated schools. So much for the new abolitionism.