But however unexpected this connection, it may indeed have its merits. Father Neuhaus quotes Reinhold Niebuhr in his first lines, though in a different context from that in which David Chapell uses him in his analysis of the Civil Rights Movement. Indeed, Chapell seeks to answer an important contradiction that has no doubt worried civil rights activists, and particularly Dr King, as demonstrated in “Letter from Birmingham City Jail”. The question is of course about the relevance of religious questions to the political world, and the possibility of accomplishing moral ends by political means, which were seen by Niebuhr (whose writing influenced many theologians, including Dr King) as by default immoral. Father Neuhaus answered this question for himself long ago, when he co-founded “Clergy Concerned about Vietnam” and wrote his 1970 book “"Movement and Revolution”.
He does however reflect on the apparently “inevitable connection between passion and participation” and legitimizes bringing moral concerns into political debate precisely because they are able to truly mobilize people, not around a policy, a law, but about an issue they feel more strongly about. “There has simply never been a social movement of moral skeptics and doubters; only strong convictions mobilized and sustained them”, he notes; and such strong convictions are best represented in those issues where the question is not about what is legal or illegal, but about what is just or unjust (in the sense that St. Thomas Aquinas used it when he said: “An unjust law does not seem to be a law at all”).
Father Neuhaus also attempts to show that bringing morality into the political debate is not so much a prerogative of Civil Rights movements or left-wing liberals, but rather a task that the Religious Right was able to accomplish with great success. He represents the pro-choice movement as trying to maintain the status quo, unwilling to engage in informed discussion and attempting to portray its opponents as “crazy” religious zealots with which dialogue is useless. But more than that, the pro-choice are not only unwilling but also unable to lead such a debate, as they simply lack a consistent, strong position on the subject. Pro-life activists on the other hand, accomplished the task of bringing morality into politics, or more precisely religion into politics, as they thought against an establishment that was ultimately against them and an uninformed “silent majority” that was apparently mislead into supporting Row vs. Wade.
This comparison does of course have its limits, as” the heir” to the Civil Rights Movement: the Religious Right went a lot further than its predecessor in bringing religion into politics, perhaps even bringing a little too much politics into religion a it established itself not as the grassroots movement of its beginnings but as an organization with a strong political platform, seeking to not only change on certain moral issues, but long term political power, and meddling in most social issues rather than focusing only on what is strictly moral and religious.