Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the conservative group Eagle Forum who was known for her decades-long advocacy on behalf of the traditional family, died Sept. 5. She was 92.
Called a friend and “profound influence” by conservative women, Schlafly opposed the feminist movement for more than 40 years. An attorney, speaker and mother of six, she also publically opposed abortion, same-sex marriage and communism.
In addition to authoring or editing 20 books, Schlafly was a columnist, radio commentator and television commentator.
Dorothy Patterson, wife of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson, said that Schlafly was “a friend and mentor to me and thousands of other women over the decades.”
“I learned from her a sense of priority for family commitments, the value of perseverance and the conviction that ultimately we were all accountable to God for upholding the creation order and the sanctity of life,” said Patterson, a recipient in 1987 of the Eagle Forum’s Eagle Award, which honors “citizen volunteers for their dedicated work at every level of government,” according to the Eagle Forum website.
Susie Hawkins, wife of GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins, called Schlafly “a profound influence on the American conservative movement.”
“Brilliant, fearless and nobody’s fool, Mrs. Schlafly was a fierce defender of the rights of the unborn and other dignity of life causes,” Hawkins told BP in written comments. “As a pioneer of the movement, she unleashed conservative women’s voices onto the political battlefield during the tumultuous 70s. She will be remembered with great respect and admiration.”
In the 1970s and early 1980s, Schlafly was a chief leader in defeating the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the U.S. Constitution despite its 90-percent approval by Congress and ratification by 35 state legislatures.
The ERA would have barred denial of “equality of rights under the law” based on sex in federal and state legislation.
“Why would anybody want to tie our hands so that we can no longer give certain [legal] helps to the wife, the mother, and the widow, in order to compensate for the natural differences that women have babies, that women don’t have the same physical strength as men, and that women live longer than men?” Schlafly said according to a published copy of her address. “There are these differences between the sexes. And we should be entitled to have laws that respect those differences.”
At the time, “some questioners from the floor took exception to some of Mrs. Schlafly’s points.”
Following the SBC’s Conservative Resurgence, however, opinions among SBC leaders seemed to change regarding Schlafly.
Upon her death, Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the CLC’s successor organization, recommended via Twitter a video from the early 1970s in which a representative from the National Organization for Women “clearly underestimated” Schlafly in a debate.
In addition to her six children, Schlafly is survived by 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband John Fred Schlafly.
— by David Roach | BP