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Parker Retreats


Her latest column seems to me to make two major points. First, she says that social conservatives should advance their arguments in non-theological terms. That’s a significant climb-down from the original oogedy-boogedy column–so much so that I don’t even disagree with it. She writes that religious conservatives “might take a cue from Nat Hentoff, a self-described Jewish-atheist, who has written as eloquently as anyone about the ‘indivisibility of life’ and the slippery slope down which abortion leads. He uses logic and reason to argue that being pro-life, rather than resolving the religious question of ensoulment, is really a necessary barrier against selective killing, such as when someone else decides it’s your time to die.”

But most pro-lifers agree with this too! The National Right to Life Committee doesn’t base its arguments on ensoulment; my book on the life issues, widely praised by pro-lifers, does not advance a single theological argument or differ in any significant respect from the argument that Hentoff makes; the Catholic Church doesn’t even base its argument for protecting the unborn on Scripture or any doctrine about ensoulment; the Human Life Review runs Hentoff all the time.

Second, Parker argues that Republicans are too associated with “white Christians” for their political health and therefore need to distance themselves from the religious right. This line of argument continues to strike me as misguided. Is it really true that Republicans would have more appeal to blacks and Hispanics if they downplayed the social issues or were more careful to frame their socially-conservative arguments in non-theological terms? That seems to me to be a very hard case to make, which is perhaps why I have never seen Parker try.


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