On Tuesday’s “Full Frontal,” host Samantha Bee explained how a strange film rallied the religious right against abortion.
Bee continued last week’s history lesson about the rise of the religious right by introducing sci-fi filmmaker Frank Schaeffer.
“One of the things that I did, back in the day, when I was young, was help found, start, begin what became known as the pro-life movement,” Schaeffer said in a video. “It is the single biggest regret of my life.”
Schaeffer, the son of conservative theologian Francis Schaeffer, created a strange art/propaganda film against abortion titled “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” It featured Schaeffer’s father and C. Everett Coop, who would later become US Surgeon General during the Reagan administration, and strange elements taken from experimental film.
As Bee previously explained, it wasn’t the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that mobilized evangelical Christians to become active in voting. It was earlier in the ’70s when the IRS decided it would pull tax exemptions from segregated private schools. Specifically the evangelical school Bob Jones University became the focus of conservative Christians.
Proud of the movement they created, the leaders of the religious right were looking for other issues to continue the movement’s momentum. This is when abortion was suggested and they latched on to it.
Bee joked, “Were they founding a movement or deciding what toppings to get on their pizza?”
First, they had to educate the evangelical masses by screening the anti-abortion film at churches across the nation. But the film was flopping.
“Abortion was that thing Catholics worried about. Most evangelical leaders didn’t want anything to do with it,” Schaeffer explained of the reluctance to get on the anti-abortion train.
But then Republican politician Jack Kemp got involved. He gave the issue credibility and rallied 50 congressmen and senators to see the film. It snowballed into the pro-life movement we’re familiar with from there.
Bee joked of the pro-life movement’s history, “As Margaret Mead said, ‘Never doubt that a cynical conference call and a fundamentalist faux-Fellini film festival can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.'”
Watch the segment below:
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