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The New Evangelical Social Engagement$
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Brian Steensland and Philip Goff

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199329533

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199329533.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 27 November 2021

Prolifers of the Left

Prolifers of the Left

Progressive Evangelicals’ Campaign against Abortion

(p.200) 9 Prolifers of the Left
The New Evangelical Social Engagement

Daniel K. Williams

Oxford University Press

Although progressive evangelicals have supported numerous causes that the secular left and liberal Protestantism embrace, they have broken with their liberal allies on the issue of abortion. This essay examines why progressive evangelicals adopted a pro-life ideology in the 1970s, and how the influences of evangelical feminism and a progressive Catholic pro-life movement shaped progressive evangelicals’ views of abortion. The essay also explores how progressive evangelicals’ pro-life ideology differed from that of their conservative evangelical counterparts. Progressive evangelicals were more interested in reducing the abortion rate than in changing abortion law, and they linked the abortion issue not to a culturally conservative agenda but instead to a comprehensive pro-life ethic that included opposition to capital punishment and nuclear warfare. The essay examines how these views affected progressive evangelicals’ political strategy on abortion in the 1980s and beyond, leading them to support pro-choice Democratic candidates who offered, in their view, a policy agenda that included positive alternatives to abortion that would reduce the abortion rate. The essay concludes by examining contemporary tensions between progressive evangelicals and their liberal Democratic political allies over abortion, and assesses the role that progressive evangelicals’ pro-life ideology plays in their current political strategy.

Keywords:   Evangelicals, Progressivism, Abortion, Pro-life, Politics, 1970s

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