An amusing press release titled “Evangelical Women Hit Pause on Culture War” recently reached my inbox. Well, this was news to me, since many of the Evangelical women I know are in some way involved in the pro-life movement or are active on other social issues. Curious, I opened the email.
The release was published by Freedom Road, a new group founded by Lisa Sharon Harper, former chief church engagement officer of the liberal activist organization Sojourners. The group claims to have found an unexpected dissent among conservative Evangelical women across the country, writing:
As President Trump makes his intentions with the U.S. Supreme Court clear, a most surprising voice of dissent is emerging. A rising chorus of leading Evangelical women is asking America to stop the Senate from rushing to confirmation and hit pause on the Culture Wars.
What may at first blush sound counterintuitive, decades of the Conservative Evangelicals’ strategy to dominate the Supreme Court will result in a loss for the pro-life movement and for people of color sitting in the only growing segment of the evangelical church; evangelical churches of color. Hard data proves it and Evangelical women are saying enough…
The fearful-toned release was published on July 9, the same day President Trump selected Brett Kavanaugh as his nomination to replace Justice Kennedy on the U.S. Supreme Court. “On the day that Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement,” Harper stated in the release, “I fell to my knees in prayer. Tears fell as I prayed for the unborn…and my nieces and nephews and their children. What kind of world are we making for them?”
Harper claimed that majority conservative rulings have damaged civil rights protections and “harmed the cause of decreasing abortion.” But she fails to tell us precisely how conservative rulings have led to an increase in abortions, which is what she is asserting.
The release also included action items such as instructions to call senators and “demand they replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy with a moderate independent Justice.” That is quite a bold and specific instruction for an organization that purportedly works with faith communities across the spectrum of Evangelicals. Another item called for fasting and prayer “after 35 years of a Culture War mindset.”
The biggest problem with this press release that supposedly “has garnered public statements from more than a dozen leading conservative evangelical women across the nation and spectrum of evangelicals,” is it contains women who are hardly conservative Evangelicals.
You can read the entire list of signatories and their statements here. The list includes Harper, who for years worked for Sojourners, a progressive Christian organization that pushes liberal causes. Also listed is liberal author Rachel Held Evans, who denounced her “Evangelical” title a while back and is now an Episcopalian, and Alexia Salvatierra, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) pastor and a regular speaker at the Wild Goose Festival, a notoriously liberal Religious Left gathering.
Jen Hatmaker, who comes from an evangelical background, is also quoted among those concerned about the addition of a conservative Supreme Court Justice. Hatmaker might be evangelical, but I wouldn’t list her as a conservative since she recently affirmed practicing homosexual behavior. Just last weekend at the Wild Goose Festival, I sat under a tent listening to her discuss what’s it’s been like to walk her church through the LGBTQ-affirming process after being “kicked out” of the Evangelical family.
If this press release is to be believed, these women are active pro-life advocates who have decided to take a time-out from their routine strategies. Well, I’ve listened to a good many of these speakers give presentations at various events around the country as part of my work with the Institute on Religion and Democracy. The ones I’ve heard have never taken time out of their progressive Christian presentations to advocate on behalf of unborn life. When or if they do make the convenient “I’m pro-life” claim, it’s right before they pivot to bash the pro-life movement in some fashion.
I’m also not buying that these supposedly conservative Evangelical women’s efforts are intended to decrease abortion and care for the unborn. At the very same progressive Christian gathering where I heard Hatmaker speak, the Wild Goose Festival, I watched two Planned Parenthood workers give a brazen pro-abortion presentation.
So, no, conservative Evangelical women are not stepping back from the Culture Wars. We are not taking a pause from resisting abortion and defending unborn life. We’re still here. You need only ask us.