Largely lost amidst the fighting over the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act is the seeming about-face done by many evangelicals on the subject of birth control.
As I rarely tire of pointing out, in John Kennedy’s famous “I won’t make everyone pray the rosary” speech in front of a group of Houston ministers, contraception (along with divorce, that other cornerstone of the Reformation!) was one of the things he promised he wouldn’t approach from a Catholic standpoint. At the time, in the early 1960s, the Bible-thumping evangelical was firmly in favor of contraception, and wanted the hellish whore of Rome to keep his mitts off America’s patriotic supply of French letters.
Today, things have changed. As Jacob Lupfer points out in this commentary piece for Religion News Service, evangelicals have lined up alongside the Catholic Church on this issue, and not only because of concerns about religious liberty:
[C]onsider the demographic implications. Even a modest shift in birthrates can have a significant impact — particularly for denominations in which birthrates have declined and growth has stalled. In his provocative book “Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?,” Eric Kaufmann argues that birthrates and retention rates are much more important to a religion’s market share than conversions.
In other words, Lupfer argues, part of the anti-contraception strategy is driven by long-term strategy as well as renewed theological objections to the practice.
Now, if the Catholics can only get the evangelicals to accept papal primacy …