Religion Drives GOP’s Stand On Women’s Rights

Kate McGuinness discusses the root of what would become casualties of a Republican President: women’s rights.

Conceding the notion of a GOP war on women is true, Margaret Hoover, great granddaughter of the late President and Republican activist asks, “What has happened within the party infrastructure that has malfunctioned so desperately, so that this minority of representatives are in such positions of power that are so out of step with the majority of Republicans?”

I suspect the party leadership has a plan to gain the Presidency that Ms. Hoover is unaware of: Abandon the hope of defeating a charismatic President in the popular vote but win the Electoral College. To do this, the GOP needs to carry the historically red southern, central, and northern plains states and pick up the electoral votes of several swing states such as Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Ohio, Colorado, and Iowa.

The GOP’s anti-women stance plays well to key constituencies in these states: Christian Fundamentalists and devout Catholics. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life recently released survey results that indicate 26.3% of Americans are members of Evangelical Protestant churches and 23.9% are Catholics.

Many Christian Fundamentalists, like other religious fundamentalists such as Islamists, oppose women’s agency. Katha Pollitt notes, “a common thread of misogyny connects” Christian Evangelicals and the Taliban, or, as Dr. Peggy Drexler puts it, “female repression is alive and well [in the West] in the precincts of the religious right.”

Some might argue that Catholicism is a Christian Fundamentalist religion. But, even without making that leap, it is clear that the male-led church’s position on reproductive rights, divorce, and ordination oppress women. Presumed Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan, a Catholic, hews to the Vatican’s line on abortion and opposes Obamacare’s contraception mandate as violating freedom of religion.

Will the beliefs of Christian Fundamentalists and Catholics affect their votes? The recent Pew survey questioned the role that religious belief played in respondents’ lives. Fifty-six percent said it was very important. However, this percentage jumped as high as 81% in several red states.

In 2000, 79% of self-identified Christian Evangelicals voted for George Bush. However, this group does not always vote and are, to some extent, independent or swing voters. What better way to get them to the polling place than to appeal to their core religious beliefs?

Mike Lofgren, a long-time GOP Congressional staffer, asserts that religion has destroyed the Republican Party: “Having observed politics up close and personal for most of my adult lifetime, I have come to the conclusion that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism may have been the key ingredient in the transformation of the Republican Party. Politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes—at least in the minds of its followers—all three of the GOP’s main tenets: wealth worship, war worship, and the permanent culture war.”

Women’s rights will be casualties of wealth worship and the permanent culture war. The “religious cranks,” as Lofgren calls them, will drastically cut funds for social programs and restrict access to contraception and abortion.

Progressive women need to act on their feminist beliefs and vote in November. Every race—Presidential, Congressional and local—matters. Register to vote. If you’re already registered, be certain you bring to the polls the identification required by your state.

Check whether you are registered to vote and what your state’s voter ID requirements are by clicking here

Kate McGuinness is a lawyer who spent 17 years at Biglaw before becoming the general counsel of a Fortune 500 corporation. After leaving that position, she studied creative writing and is the author of a legal suspense novel Terminal Ambition, which is available on She is an advocate for women and tweets as @womnsrightswrter.

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