2. Place of religion in US politics
3. Abortion in the US
5. Church and Abortion
Religion in the Politics of the United States of America
- the Aboritioncontroversie and the Influence of the Christian Church -
The discussion, whether abortion should be legal or not, is a neverending topic all over the world. In America, it has been debated for decades. In presidential campaigns, it is always addressed, but never as much as in the 2020 race with the possible re-election of Donald Trump. Especially concerning the new seat in the supreme court, which was highly disputed. Recently it was confirmed that the conservative judge Amy Coney Barrett will replace Ginsburg. This could mean that the judiciary branch of the federal government would develop to be more conservative. This could maybe even result in a rediscussion of Roe vs. Wade. This would not only effect abortion policies strongly but moreover would be a huge occurrence for American Politics in general.
Even though the majority of the American population is positioned in the middle of both political positions, the extreme opinions of Pro-life and Pro-choice have dominated the discussion (Guernsey, 1993, p.8). Some people are even so innvolved or even obsessed (some even feel offended in their religious belief) that protests or smaller gatherings in front of abortion clinics are not uncommon.
While Pro-choice believes in the option to decide, Pro-life thinks abortion is murder (Guernsey, 1993, p.7). In general pro-life tends to be the more conservative view on that topic as it is developing out of the traditional biblical opinion. In the past this had an clear influence on the political decisions concerning the abortion policies. The reason for this is, as we will see, the connection between the strictly believing evangelists and the republicans.
So how strong was the influence the Church took in this political debate if abortion souls be legal or not? This question is especially interesting because, even though the constitution requires a separation of church and state, the US government was in its origin partially defined by Christian values. Furthermore, while in other Western countries the importance of religion is declining, the United States is still a very devout country. If you compare the numbers in 2015 of Christians in America (804 million) and Europe (504 million) a huge difference is visible even though at this time the EU takes in a total 2.6% more of the global population. This is why in the United States, religions play a much more important role in the personal and social life of the American citizens. Therefore and as different historical landmarks formed this connection between Church and State even stronger political decisions got at least partially influenced too (Bauer-heiler and Wezel, 2015) and (Stourton, 2015).
If you compare how the different states handle this controversy you can see a pattern, that more conservative states like Alabama have stricter abortion policies than more liberal ones. As I mentioned before, conservative views are partially led by the church's opinion on moral issues, which is why I want to analyze throughout this paper the connection between church and state mainly concerning the Abortion debate.
2. Place of religion in US politics
In the first amendment of the Constitution, the separation of church and state is guaranteed. This truly ensures the freedom of faith, and therefore the self-evident natural rights established in the Declaration of Independence. Even though religion and especially the Christian church, as it is by far the religion the majority of Americans believe in, was able to take influence in lawmaking concerning many aspects of life (Pariona, 2018).
Mainly affected by this are fields like equal rights or abortion, in which the moral viewpoints are determined in the dilemma of the decision (Wald, 1992, p.26). To understand this influence, religion is taking in the politics of the United States. It is necessary to look back on the origin and founding of the country as "the manner of early American politics bore the imprint of this religious background"(Wald, 1992, p.43).
In the 16th and 17th Century, the Colonists brought Catholic beliefs of the protestant church of England, to the United States. The religion experienced rapid growth and developed rather quickly becoming a dominating factor (Pariona, 2018). The main reason though why Christianity is so deeply anchored in the system is the close tie of the framers towards the protestant Church. Evidence for this Statement can be found in phrases like "God entitled them" found in the Declaration of Independence. This colonial history of the United States placed the country in a position, in which moral values of the Christian church influenced the development of it significantly and are therefore deeply rooted politics of the past and present.
Today, the influence is taken indirectly, through religiously motivated political activism. First of all, this activism can be carried through the Church itself. Not every church is doing so, but within their large number of adherents churches have the possibility to lead these followers in a specific political direction, and with that influence elections significantly. This can happen through many different ways such as the content they are preaching about or posters and articles, which can be found in the church (Wald, 1992, p.27).
Furthermore, the churches developed themselves into "multipurpose agencies", which work partially in the same interest as the government in fields like education or medical care (Wald, 1992, p.27). This has the effect that the churches are closely tied to the government's decisions within their several operations, which is why many of them consider it necessary to position themselves in the political arena (Wald, 1992, p.28).
Besides that the close connection between the conservative party of republicans and white evangelists voters, emerged during the 1970s and 80s, had a huge impact on political development.
Medical abortions as well as miscarriage are describing the "termination of pregnancy before the fetus is capable of survival outside the uterus" this means "before viability (20 weeks' gestation [18 weeks after fertilization] or fetal weight less than 500 g)" (Miller, 2003). Nevertheless, usually, the term abortion is referring to the end of pregnancy as the deliberate termination of an unintentional pregnancy and is therefore more likely functioning as a synonym of induced abortion (Miller, 2003).
The decision to whether have an abortion or, even though the pregnancy wasn't wanted, carry out the child is not an easy one. The evaluation of pros and cons is probably one of the most difficult ones as it is not only personal but there are also medical aspects as well as ethical and legal issues that are taking influence in this controversy. Through that and the factor that the woman's freedom of choice, as opposed to the protection of the unborn child abortions, are often becoming the subject of political discussions. Therefore the legal situation in a country is depending on which aspects are in the government given more weight. For this reason, the legality of performing abortions varies greatly over the globe and even between the different states of the United States depending on the political conviction.
- Quote paper
- Mira Pölzer (Author), 2020, Abortion Controversy and the Influence of the Christian Church. Religion and Politics in the US, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/1006674