Editors' note: This piece is co-authored by Bob Morrison, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council.
In a polite post on his “Contentions” website, former Bush White House aide Pete Wehner takes issue with James Davison Hunter’s new book. Hunter, a respected Sociology prof at the University of Virginia, has written To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianityin the Late Modern World, in which he cautions Christians about trying to prevail in the culture wars by employing the force of law. Hunter says the law is a blunt instrument, based on coercion. Pete Wehner cites civil rights laws as an example where the law is not a mere blackjack, but a thoughtful teacher. It can be a moral guide.
Pete Wehner is right about this. When I [Bob Morrison] was a student at University of Virginia in Charlottesville, the university was de-segregated, but the state and city were not. As the great Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, a number of restaurants "closed" and became private eating clubs. As well, a number of lakes and swim clubs became private. Some of my fellow students sported their private members' cards. Five dollars and a white face was all that the membership committee required of them. Happily, within just one year, every one of those segregated institutions had folded. Respectable people did not think it proper to patronize such.
This experience taught that the vast majority of white Southerners were quietly glad to see the end of Jim Crow. It offended their sense of justice, their sense of decency. Segregation required an essentially Christian and conservative people to behave in un-Christian and even radically offensive ways. That is why Dr. King always stressed that his movement was a Christian movement, a justice movement.
The media focused then--as it always does--on the few, scattered instances of resistance. If you want to see what resistance really looks like, you need to look to the anti-Stamp Act agitation. Sam Adams and the Sons of Liberty in 1765 made that unjust exaction practically unenforceable. Similarly, the Civil War shows us what massive resistance looks like. It looks like Arlington National Cemetery.
The pro-life movement has been overwhelmingly a peaceful and Christian movement. We can credit the Christians with the fact that resistance to this slaughter of innocents has taken the form of lawful, prayerful agitation. The few, very few, murders of abortionists have been denounced by every responsible pro-life leader, writer, thinker.