Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Neuhaus Reviews Shields' Book on the Christian Right

Richard Neuhaus, the editor of the Catholic journal First Things, wrote up a nice review of a book by one of our new professors, Jon Shields. You can find it here. In case anyone is wondering, Professor Shields is teaching a seminar next semester on the Culture Wars. I highly recommend you check it out (though the time conflicts with Kesler’s Natural Law).

The book, Democratic Virtues of the Christian Right, is “by no means a pro-life political tract,” says Father Neuhaus. Rather, it is a data-driven book based on numerous studies and polls. So what does Shields discover in all the data? The most interesting tidbit, I think, is this (in Neuhaus’s words):

The conflict is often depicted as one between housewives and career-oriented women. But a striking percentage of pro-life women are university educated, and many have given up professional careers to do pro-life work full-time. Although Shields does not mention it in this connection, it is also striking how many female leaders in the pro-life cause had one or more abortions, an experience that helped turn them against the current license.

So it turns out not all pro-lifers are uneducated, backward-thinking Midwesterners. Who would have thought?

Shields also illustrates the frustration pro-life students face who want to engage in debate on the issue, because liberal activists on campus are actively discouraged from debating. Writes Shields,

Such frustration is fueled by NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood, whose leaders discourage their campus affiliates from debating or even talking to pro-life students. NARAL’s ‘Campus Kit for Pro-Choice Organizers,’ for example, gives this categorical instruction: ‘Don’t waste time talking to anti-choice people.’

Neuhaus add that “the campus organizer for Planned Parenthood told Shields that she ‘discourages direct debate.’”

I personally don’t know how I feel about that. I think with abortion, people generally believe what they believe and that’s not going to change. I do think, however, that people should be intellectually honest with themselves, and that starts by not being afraid of open discussion on the issue.

Finally, one more gem, which proves once more just how “tolerant” and “open-minded” the San Francisco liberals are. In case some of you forgot, I wrote about liberal “tolerance” in a recent article on Prop 8, which you can read here. Here’s what Neuhaus writes:

In San Francisco, the city and county board of supervisors unanimously declared January 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, “Stand Up for Choice Day” and officially declared San Francisco a pro-choice city. Supervisor Bevan Duffy declared that pro-lifers were “not welcome in San Francisco.”

Supervisor Tom Ammiano complained about the audacity of pro-life activists who “think that they can come to our fair city and demonstrate.” The head of the Golden Gate chapter of Planned Parenthood was outraged that activists “have been so emboldened that they believe that their message will be tolerated here."

Or perhaps, to put in other words: Irish need not apply.

1 comment:

John Wilson said...

Hey Ilan, great post. One quick quibble: Though Neuhaus is a Catholic priest, First Things is an interreligious, not a Catholic, publication. They've got Jews, Protestants and Mormons on their board, and at least one of their contributors is an atheist.

Also, speaking of Neuhaus, he's actually quite sick right now (http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=OTg2NGUyYzdhNTU4MDJmZjk0MTY1OGM5Zjg0ODdiMDc=). I had the great privilege of chatting with him a few months back, and he's as kind and genuine as he is brilliant.