I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s and I have always associated the fight against abortion (and contraception, sex education and LGBTQ rights) with the Christian right.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked, I have learned more about the history of abortion as a political issue: specifically, that opposition to abortion was intentionally fostered among evangelical Christians.

I was surprised to learn that prior to the 1970s, restricting abortion was not an issue of particular social or political concern for evangelicals – segregation was, according to Dartmouth religion professor Randall Balmer, writing recently in Politico. In 1968, Christianity Today magazine published “A Protestant Affirmation on the Control of Human Reproduction,” which explicitly endorsed “the necessity and permissibility of (abortion) under certain circumstances.”

That was evangelical Protestants arguing in favor of permitting abortions under certain circumstances – five years before the Roe decision.

According to filmmaker Frank Schaeffer, in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, the anti-abortion doctrine associated with evangelicals was not adopted as a cause célèbre until years after the Roe decision. He and his father, theologian Francis Schaeffer, collaborated with Dr. C. Everett Koop on the 1979 anti-abortion propaganda film series and book “Whatever Happened to the Human Race,” which helped reinforce anti-abortion sentiment among evangelical Christians, something the younger Schaeffer said that he regrets.

I am not an evangelical Christian, but I imagine that if I were, I would feel manipulated. Opposition to abortion did not derive from religious belief; religious belief was exploited in order to cultivate opposition to abortion.

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It seems that some conservative political leaders saw an opportune moment (the Roe decision) to turn evangelical Christians against abortion for the purpose of building a powerful voting bloc for conservative politicians – one that has lasted 50 years and counting.

I know what it’s like to be manipulated, but my story is a more traditional tale of being scammed out of money, with an added embarrassing twist.

After I inherited some money, an estranged relative reached out and asked for a loan to help them pay for college. They knew I cared very much about access to education, and I thought that I would be “living my values” if I loaned them the money, so I did.

I felt conflicted. What if they don’t really use the money for school? What if they don’t pay it back? But instead I focused on “the good” that I thought I was doing: helping someone further their education, which aligned with my own deeply held values.

Now, the part of the story that makes me look like a chump.

Only a few weeks after loaning them money, they came back asking for more. They needed “a little more” to cover a cash-flow gap, and they would pay it back as soon as a loan came through.

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Yes, I did loan them more money. And yes, I still feel stupid for having done so. And no, they did not pay it back.

I spent years trying to understand how I fell for such an obvious scam.

They saw an opportune moment: the inherited money.

They chose the perfect message to appeal to my values: access to education.

And they abused my trust and good intentions.

I don’t know if any evangelical Christians feel like they were duped for someone else’s (political) gain, but if they do, they are not alone. I certainly feel like I was duped for someone else’s (financial) gain, and as difficult and embarrassing as it has been for me to talk about having been manipulated like that, I think it’s important.

I really respect Frank Schaeffer for his honesty.


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