Fact and Fiction About Racism and the Rise of the Religious Right

“According to this narrative, Evangelical leaders mainly supported abortion rights. They jumped into the culture war only when the IRS moved to strip the tax exemptions from racially discriminatory schools. Opposition to integration is the poisonous acorn that grew into the mighty political oak of conservative Christianity.” - David French


On a similar note, one of my frustrations with Jamar Tisby’s Color of Compromise book, which traces the history of racism within the American church, is that he primarily relies on Ballmer’s historical perspective of the rise of the religious right (which has a progressive bias). Tisby leaves out the influence of Francis Schaeffer’s books and videos, which did more than anyone or anything in creating the theological and philosophical framework of the evangelical pro-life movement. Now to be fair, I am not denying that some religious schools created in the 1970s practiced segregation or were formed because of the fears of what would happen when the public schools were forced to desegregate to created racial integration and balance. Even in the North in the city of Grand Rapids, my kids have gone to Northpointe Christian School. The school was formed as Grand Rapids Baptist Academy the year after the 1971 Supreme Court decision, Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, which said that ruled that the federal courts could use busing as a desegregation tool to achieve racial balance. I’ve had private conversations with a few parents, along with a teacher of those kids who attended the school when it first opened. One of their reasons and fears was related to the school busing ruling.

Or even that Falwell and religious conservatives were trying to galvanize fellow religious conservatives around the issue of tax exemption and religious liberty in regards to racial issues. But to leave out major influencers of the Pro-Life movement such as Francis Schaeffer and C. Everrett Koop creates a shallow, false narrative, when the development of the evangelical pro-life movement in the 1970’s is a much more complicated picture. Props to David French for shining a spotlight on a false caricature.