The Catholic-evangelical alliance discussed above may be experiencing some strains due to emerging divisions in the pro-life movement.
World magazine (Jan. 17) says that new drugs and techniques “threaten to blur the line between contraception and abortion — and in the process, perhaps, split evangelicals from their Catholic allies in the fight for the unborn.” Medical advances that allow women to take a pill or use a device to prevent a pregnancy shortly after intercourse are bringing the Catholic critique against contraception to the surface in pro-life circles.
Until now, Catholic and evangelical activists have agreed to put aside their differences over contraception for the sake of fighting abortion. While some think the new abortion technologies will lead evangelicals to rethink their position in favor of contraception (a phenomenon that is happening among some evangelicals), others believe there will be new divisions among pro-life activists. The key to preserving the alliance may be to emphasize educational and counseling programs that try to persuade women against making the abortion choice early-on, write Roy Maynard and Bob Jones IV.
A recent study of seminarians, however, suggests that future pastors of conservative Protestant churches will share with their Catholic counterparts a general opposition to family planning measures. Christopher Ellison and Patricia Goodson surveyed 635 seminary students from mainline and conservative evangelical schools and found significantly less support of family planning, including using or advocating the use of contraceptives (although there was not a complete opposition to contraception for married couples), according to the study published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (December).
A belief in biblical inerrancy and a resulting literal interpretation of God’s command in the book of Genesis to “be fruitful and multiply,” were found to be key predictors for such opposition.
(World, P.O. Box 2330, Asheville, NC 28802; Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 1365 Stone Hall, Sociology Dept., Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1365)