announced to delegates, and a national audience, that “ere is a religious wargoing on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as criticalto the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself.”
Praisingboth Ronald Reagan and presumptive nominee George H.W. Bush for theirresolute leadership on moral issues, Buchanan went on to attack Bill Clinton,the Democratic nominee, for promoting an agenda that did not reﬂect “the Judeo-Christian values and beliefs upon which this nation was built.”
Inaddition, Buchanan speciﬁcally faulted Clinton and the Democratic Party fortheir support of abortion rights at their own party’s July nominating convention,held in New York City: At…[the] top [of their agenda] is unrestricted abortion on demand. When the Irish-Catholic governor of Pennsylvania, Robert Casey,asked to say a few words on behalf of the 25 million unborn childrendestroyed since Roe v Wade [sic], he was told there was no place forhim at the podium of Bill Clinton’s convention, no room at the inn.
Buchanan’s praise for George H.W. Bush and Reagan is especially noteworthy because both candidates shifted their positions on abortion from pro-choice topro-life after they decided to run for president.
While a full discussion of the myriad ways in which religion has shapedintra-party competition in America over the past four decades is beyond thescope of this paper, there is little doubt that the Republican Party has becomethe party of religion, and that religiously determined issues have come to play an increasingly important role in electoral politics. Among those issues, whichinclude gay rights, prayer in public schools, and the teaching of evolution, themost important by far is abortion. As Geoﬀrey Layman puts it, “Abortion isthe deﬁning issue in contemporary cultural and moral politics…[and] the issuethat has been most central to the cultural debate both within and between theparties.”
is development has had profound consequences not only for theelectoral process but also for appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court, the arenain which battles over abortion are now frequently waged.During the 35 years since
Roe v. Wade
the abortion issue hasshaped American electoral politics, and although abortion remains legal in theUnited States, pro-life groups, often associated with the Republican Party, have worked tirelessly to overturn the landmark ruling. Pro-life advocacy groups likeFocus on the Family and the National Right to Life Committee have successfully elected legislators at both the state and federal level who have passed myriad lawsthat restrict a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. At the same time, thesegroups have joined with other Christian conservatives to help elect presidential