By Alan Bean
Evangelist Billy Graham has tacitly endorsed Mitt Romney’s presidential bid and his website no longer characterizes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) as a cult. This is just another sign that a major realignment is underway in American religion.
Evangelicals defined themselves in opposition to Roman Catholicism until the late 1970s when activist-preachers like Francis Schaeffer and Jerry Falwell built a new evangelical coalition around an unreconstructed version of Catholic pro-life theology. This informal evangelical-Catholic coalition was driven by a fear of liberalism in both its secular and religious expressions.
Throughout the 1970s few evangelicals gave much thought to the abortion issue. In fact, the Southern Baptist Convention essentially endorsed Roe v. Wade at its annual conventions as late as 1976. A decade later, a thoroughgoing pro-life position had become a litmus test among American evangelicals. (more…)