By Matthew Avery Sutton, professor and chair of history at WSU
Thanks to the supreme court’s refusal to act on a new Texas law, American evangelicals are now one step closer to achieving a goal they have pursued for generations: the end of legal abortion in the United States. They believe that stopping abortion is central to keeping the United States a holy and righteous nation, staving off the judgments of God, and surviving the coming apocalypse.
Abortion has not always been controversial among American Protestants. Since colonial times, most Protestants in the United States saw abortion as a legitimate form of birth control. They did not make a clear distinction between terminating a pregnancy and preventing one. Those who believed that contraception was an appropriate practice often had few qualms about abortion when the procedure was performed before “quickening” (the time when a woman begins to feel the fetus move).
This theology cultivates in believers a sense of urgency and certainty and a vision of the world defined in absolute terms. They believe that they are engaged in a zero-sum game of good-versus-evil. Anticipation of the end of time gives evangelicals motivation to act – to preach, to evangelize and to wage culture war.