From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
The growing Catholic/Evangelical alliance

April 9, 2005 3:36 PM

Stephen points to some great readings from Christianity Today on the growing Catholic/Evangelical alliance.

My rather simplistic take is that evangelicals have gotten wrapped up in politics because of an impassioned belief against abortion, and have been hoodwinked into supporting immoral Republican policies. It cannot be overstated how central abortion is to evangelicals. This is the only issue. Republicans are trying to extend this passion toward gay marriage, and have been successful to some extent, but it's still abortion that is holding the evangelical/Republican alliance together, and by extension the evangelical/Catholic alliance.

We'll see how my perspective on this changes as I get deeper into the Church 2.0 project.

More from the archive in Politics, Religion.

The growing Catholic/Evangelical alliance (04.09.2005)

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Read the 22 comments.



Great thoughts. I often look at some of the "Evangelical" leaders and wonder if we are reading the same book and following the same guy.

Sun Apr 10 2005 6:39 AM

Mike Ackerman:

Yes, an excellent summary. But while I agree that abortion is a prominent issue for evangelicals, I wonder if it's the #1 driving issue. For many, the ultimate issue seems to be, "Rapture during our natural lifetimes."

Of course, Catholics think the rapture is utter nonsense, so perhaps abortion is the greatest common factor.

Sun Apr 10 2005 4:33 PM

Mike Ackerman:

Let me rephrase. Catholics and evangelicals have "severe differences" re. rapture.

Sun Apr 10 2005 4:47 PM


This is troubling, because abortion rights is also a defining issue for Democrats. I don't see how there can be any compromise on either side. (I don't want the Democrats to compromise on this.)

Mon Apr 11 2005 2:36 PM

raging red:

I hate to turn this into a big abortion debate thread, because the particular religious partnership issue that Jim presents is quite interesting, but I feel compelled to say this in response to Paul (and a "big abortion debate thread" is probably inevitable anyway): There IS a compromise position on this issue, and that's what I find so frustrating.

The position that everyone SHOULD be able to agree on is doing whatever we can to prevent unwanted pregnancies, thus reducing the number of abortions. Unfortunately, most pro-lifers are basically just anti-sex, so they refuse to compromise by allowing common sense sex education and adequate funding for preventative healthcare. If the pro-life crowd truly cared about stopping abortion, they would take practical and productive steps to prevent unwanted pregnancies. That they are not doing so reveals a deeper agenda.

Mon Apr 11 2005 4:11 PM


Interesting, Red. Thanks.

I would love to see Democrats effectively link prevention of unwanted pregnancies to reduction of abortions.

Right-wingers believe in sex only after marriage, which is why they won't stand for sex education or distribution of condoms. They think that any exchange of information about sex encourages promiscuity (sex outside of marriage).

I think there is also an element of embarrassment which conservatives have about sex. They seem to think that it is dirty or naughty vs. natural and healthy.

It's a very emotional issue for these people. How do you get a person to think practically about something like sex education, when they think it's all about encouraging promiscuity? I've had this argument with a person who is religious and intelligent, and I can tell you that almost nothing would change his mind on this.

Mon Apr 11 2005 5:43 PM

Sponge Bob:

Sex education has been taught for years in public schools. Got any evidence to show that teen & single pregnancies are LOWER because of it?

Mon Apr 11 2005 6:33 PM

Mike Ackerman:

Hammer the point that outlawing abortion does not equal reducing abortion:

"Abortion rates are no lower overall in areas where abortion is generally restricted by law (and where many abortions are performed under unsafe conditions) than in areas where abortion is legally permitted."

Mon Apr 11 2005 8:00 PM


adding quotation marks does not make a quote.

Tue Apr 12 2005 9:07 AM

Tom from Madison:

European countries generally have lower abortion rates than the U.S. Germany and Holland have much lower rates. These countries have sex education. Apparently it's working. Rates of HIV are generally much lower as well.

The American Right Wing in particular doesn't seem to want to learn from the positive experience of our European [or Canadian] neighbors. They PREFER to conclude sex education can't work, probably because it conflicts with their flat-earth world view.

Despite Rush Limbaugh's claimes, both left and right want fewer abortions. The disagreement has been over how to get there. IMHO, far too much time and energy has been spent on fighting legal battles, not enough on practical matters. Politicians who were REALLY uniters would find a way to get both sides to encourage prevention of unwanted pregnancies.

Over the years, both sides have developed fanatical bases who remain in a permanent state of agitation over abortion. Lately the right has been making progress by using churches as political action committees--hence, their unwillingness to compromise. Unfortunately they're willing to give up having an independent judiciary in order to accomplish their end.

If the right wants to be credible, they are going have to give up their war on judges. Even Republican-appointed judges will not support the radical right on this issue. After the Schiavo fiasco, it is not believable that the President and Republicans in congress are really against activist judges. They just want activist judges who agree with THEM!

Tue Apr 12 2005 11:28 AM

Sponge Bob:

Actually the BIRTH RATE is much lower in Europe then in the US -fewer pregnancies - fewer abortions, they also have (if you can believe it) a HIGHER rate of single mother households. You still site no rates of "success" with the US where sex ed has been a basic staple of junior high and high school for over 30 years.

Much to the dismay of the Live Free and wrap it in a condom crowd there is one silent success taking place in Africa that commands scant attention from "health officials" looking into the Aids Crisis.

"Uganda is one of the few African countries where HIV prevalence rates are declining, and it is seen as a rare example of success in a continent which is facing a severe AIDS crisis. Uganda's policies are credited with having brought the prevalence rate down from higher than 30% in the early 90s to 4.3% in 2001. At the end of 2003, the government and the UN say that only 4.1% of adults had the virus. The country is seen as having implemented a well-timed and successful public education campaign, reducing the numbers of people indulging in casual sex as well as significantly cutting the HIV prevalence rate.1

The approach used in Uganda is often referred to as the ABC approach - first, encouraging sexual Abstinence until marriage, secondly, advising those who are sexually active to Be faithful to a single partner, and, especially if you have more than one sexual partner, always to use a Condom.

Whilst poor monitoring makes is difficult to suggest that one aspect of the ABC strategy was more successful than others, it seems likely that the President's message in 1986 made the most difference, and that 'B' - being faithful - was more effective than condom use or sexual abstinence."

Mon Apr 18 2005 9:39 AM

Tom from Madison:


we disagree on what success is. Let me make it very SIMPLE for you.

In an over-populated world, a lower birth rate is a good thing. It's an even better thing if couples who don't want to get pregnant aren't getting pregnant. When that happens the question of abortion never arises. That's a very good thing. The net result is a lower abortion rate AND a lower birth rate. Why do you have a problem with that?

There are more teen pregnancies in the U.S. than in Europe. That's a bad thing--especially because so many of the U.S. pregnancies are unwanted.

I would join those who say that abstinence is the best alternative. However, safer sex is the next best thing.

...Now, please explain to me why Europe has lower HIV rates than the U.S. The U.S. is doing better than Africa on HIV, but not as well as Europe. We should be learning from the European experience!

Tue Apr 19 2005 9:01 AM

Sponge Bob:

Who said the world was over populated? Every year billions of dollars are paid to farmers NOT TO PRODUCE FOOD. The "third world" relies upon the western world to support it, with lower birth rates the west is reaching a decline of it's own. Much the same way the decline of the Roman Empire plunged the world into the Dark Ages.

As stated - please show where sex education has been successful in REDUCING single mother pregnancy and the spread of social diseases.

Tue Apr 19 2005 11:03 AM

Tom from Madison:


Your statement regarding the Dark Ages sounds very strange coming from a supporter of George W Bush. He has to be the most anti-science, anti-intellectual President the U.S. has had!

Most of your claims aren't worth refuting. In this pile I'm filing:
1) Sex Ed doesn't work &
2) Roman Empire / birth rate diatribe.

WIth regard to bigger issues, it's possible to feed the world, yet people are starving. We should be producing more food, distributing it better and encouraging family planning--all three.

With regard to what we should be learning from our neighbors, Scandinavia is doing many things right including sex education and reducing teen pregnancy. Their society's have much healthier attitudes AND behaviors than ours with regard to sexuality. To put it succinctly, they are less governed by blind faith than we are. NOTE: I'm not attacking all faith, just blind faith applied to advance a political cause.

Health care is another issue often abused by my neo-con buds. I'm sure you're aware that Scandinavian countries have much lower infant mortality rates than we do in the U.S. Again, we should be studying and learning rather than bragging without basis. They are spending less per capita on health care, yet they're healthier.

Tue Apr 19 2005 2:48 PM

Sponge Bob:


Do anything but point out a stat that proves your point about sex education lowering single mother pregnancies or the spread of STDs.

Tue Apr 19 2005 3:48 PM

Tom from Madison:

Since you need proof that the sky is blue. Here's a good compilation site:

Here's a salient quote:
"Other countries have been much more successful than the US in addressing the problem of teen pregnancies. Age at first intercourse is similar in the US and five other countries: Canada, England, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden, yet all those countries have teen pregnancy rates that are at least less than half the US rate.(9) Sex education in these other countries is based on the following components: a policy explicitly favoring sex education; openness about sex; consistent messages throughout society; and access to contraception."

I re-iterate, it works in Canada & Europe. It can work in America.

Tue Apr 19 2005 5:02 PM

Sponge Bob:


Still no evidence that shows a REDUCTION of the single mother pregnancy rate or transmission of STDs. Europe and Canada started out with low birth rates and somewhat lower STD rates. When sex education became "popular" in the late 60s and thoughout the 70s the US rates exploded. Sex education may not be the cause, but it sure as Hell didn't help. I'm talking about a reverse in trending that can be attributed to sex education. I brought up the Ugandan case because not only does it teach abstinance it also teaches SELF RESPECT for one's body. It also shows a a direct inverse to the trend of all the neighboring countries.

Somewhere in the US there must be a success you can referance, or you might just have to admit I'm RIGHT.

Tue Apr 19 2005 5:50 PM

Tom from Madison:


Apparently you aren't very intellectually curious.

Read and learn:

"Of every 1,000 Swedish women aged 15 to 19 in 1965, 50 became pregnant. By 1995, the rate dropped to 10 pregnancies for every 1,000 women in that age range, according to research Milsom presented at the conference here.

In comparison, the pregnancy rate among women aged 15 to 19 in the US during that same time period dropped slightly from 70 pregnancies per 1,000 American women to 60 per 1,000.

Milsom suggested that educational advertisements regarding the proper use of condoms, particularly directed toward young men, is "one of the most important" elements in a campaign to reduce teen pregnancies."

Here's another summary from a Medical School faculty member at New Mexico School of Medicine:

You keep suggesting that kids not hearing about sex in school is a good thing. What evidence [specific studies] would YOU cite to "prove" your point?

By the way, I'm not suggesting that kids not be told to respect their bodies. I think sex education, done the right way, does just that!


Wed Apr 20 2005 12:00 PM

Tom from Madison:

This last exchange has been another interesting object lesson.
Many on the right don't want sex education in public schools. It is certainly fair to argue for or against that point. Time and again, it turns out that a fair, evidence-based debate is not what the hard-right is looking for.

My foil Sponge Bob, like many on the right, attempts to re-define reality to fit his own ideology. In neo-con Nirvana, sex ed doesn't work and can't ever work. There is a huge body of evidence to refute this, but it seems no amount of science will ever satisfy the neo-conservative, ideologically driven agenda.

This is the same brand of illogic that allowed the myth of WMDs to justify war in Iraq. By the time that myth was refuted, we had a different myth to chase: democracy in the Middle East beginning in Iraq.

Progressives need to force accountability on the neo-con nutcases who think their version of reality trumps reason and common sense. Even basic eithics and the rule of law don't seem to get in the way of the likes of Tom DeLay.

Even those who agree with conservative on the issues should object to the damage that has been done to the PROCESS of democracy. We simply can't afford the kind of corruption being spread by the right.

Thu Apr 21 2005 11:10 AM

Sponge Bob:

Tom's thinking is based on reality?

My problem is that nearly all sex education classes in the US are taught lacking two basic principals, morality and self respect which is why I brought the Ugandan study.

As for your stats, you still show no direct correlation of sex education = lower teen/single mother children in the US. Sex education has been the norm in public schools since the 70s, but from 1970 to 1997 teen pregnancies increased every year, a direct inverse relation to what sex education was supposed to prevent.

The teen pregnancy rate in the US has dropped almost 17% in the past 8 years, but significant in that stat is the correlating drop in sexual activity. The issue I bring to the table is that while groups like Planned Parenthood advocate "safe sex" and consider abstinence an out moded unrealistic approach, it is the only method that works.

For years I've listened to groups blame the AIDs crisis on the Catholic Church's opposition to the birth control and condoms. Problem is, if people followed the Catholic church's teachings on sex, AIDs wouldn't an issue in Africa.

As for WMD, you need to read the report by Charles A. Duelfer, and not MSM headlines. Saddam had several prohibited weapons programs in progress and more on hold awaiting the lifting of the embargo.

Wed Apr 27 2005 10:31 AM

Sponge Bob:

CIA can't rule out WMD move to Syria

By Rowan Scarborough

The CIA's chief weapons inspector said he cannot rule out the possibility that Iraqi weapons of mass destruction were secretly shipped to Syria before the March 2003 invasion, citing "sufficiently credible" evidence that WMDs may have been moved there.

He cited some evidence of a transfer. "Whether Syria received military items from Iraq for safekeeping or other reasons has yet to be determined," he said. "There was evidence of a discussion of possible WMD collaboration initiated by a Syrian security officer, and ISG received information about movement of material out of Iraq, including the possibility that WMD was involved. In the judgment of the working group, these reports were sufficiently credible to merit further investigation."

Wed Apr 27 2005 10:34 AM

Tom from Madison:

With regard to WMDs, The Washington Times is not a credible source. It's a Moonie propaganda outlet.

Sponge Bob said:
"My problem is that nearly all sex education classes in the US are taught lacking two basic principals, morality and self respect which is why I brought the Ugandan study."

That statement is gradiosely absurd. It's also an unsubstantiated LIE. The illogic of the right here is precious. Tell a lie and suggest that the problem be solved based on one narrow religious interpretation!

While it is wrong to blame the Catholic Church for AIDS, it is also a sin of omission to fail to mention the effectiveness of condoms in preventing pregnancy and STDs--not 100% effective, but effective enought to make a huge difference.

Speaking of low AID / HIV rates, check the European stats. What they're doing works much better than what we're doing--in a myriad of ways.

Admit it! Deal with it!!

Wed Apr 27 2005 2:21 PM

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