A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America

By Grace Elizabeth Hale | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Rescue: Christian Outsiders in Action
in the Anti-Abortion Movement

Every major political change in our society has been
preceded by social upheaval. The pro-life movement
has failed to learn the lessons of history, which show
how the labor movement, the civil rights movement,
Vietnam protest, and gay liberation all occurred because
a group of people created social tension
.
Randall Terry

The romance of the outsider helped white conservative Christians navigate the post-civil-rights-movement world. It enabled them to hold on to a sense of difference and yet recast it as a strength. It gave them a way to navigate the contradictions between their feelings of alienation from and yet entitlement to the resources of modern America. And it provided a way to reconcile their growing political agency with their unshakable belief that they were oppressed. Jerry Falwell and other leaders of the emerging Religious Right led fundamentalists back into politics, in rebellion against both their own subculture’s separatism and the larger American culture’s secularism. But some conservative Christians went further, insisting that voting, running for office, and lobbying elected officials could never be enough in a fallen world. Like some New Leftists in the 1960s and early 1970s, they needed to bring the transformation of their inner life out into the world. They needed to act. In the 1980s, Randall Terry, the founder of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, pushed conservative Christians to take up direct action and make their politics as real as their faith.

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