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Devotions and DesiresHistories of Sexuality and Religion in the Twentieth-Century United States$
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Gillian Frank, Bethany Moreton, and Heather R. White

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469636269

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469636269.001.0001

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Family Planning Is a Christian Duty

Family Planning Is a Christian Duty

Religion, Population Control, and the Pill in the 1960s

Chapter:
(p.152) Family Planning Is a Christian Duty
Source:
Devotions and Desires
Author(s):

Samira K. Mehta

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469636269.003.0009

Throughout the 1960s, the Protestant mainline developed a theology of “responsible parenthood,” grounded in scripture and Christian thought that turned the use of contraception within marriage into a site of Christian moral agency. Responsible parenthood language offered religious responses to scientific advances and scientifically articulated social problems like population explosion. Protestant clergy, nationally and locally, deployed it to encourage birth control among married couples. These leaders were often members of what is called “mainline” Protestantism, encompassing such moderate, non-evangelical denominations such as the United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the American Baptist Church, and the Episcopal Church. They eschewed fundamentalism and valued ecumenical cooperation, particularly among liberal white Protestants, building alliances through groups such as the National Council of Churches (NCC). While the number of mainline Protestants has declined since the middle of the twentieth century, in the 1960s mainline Protestants constituted a prominent voice in public conversations. Their influence was so great that much of what historians tend to see as secular was actually deeply inflected with liberal Protestant values.

Keywords:   Alan Guttmacher, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Richard Fagley, Mainline Protestant, Protestantism, Birth Control, Contraception, National Council of Churches, 1960s

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