Of course, some parts of social conservatism haven’t really changed, and probably won’t. Many of the issues that have been associated with social conservatism for decades remain hotly contested. More than 50 years after the Supreme Court ended organized school prayer, there is still significant support for daily prayer in the classroom. Sympathy for teaching creationism in public schools also remains stubbornly high.
We need perspective. In 1992, when even the conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer was arguing that the abortion debate was settled in favor of the pro-choice side, abortion opponents would have salivated over poll results now considered the worst for the pro-life side in seven years. Identification with the pro-life position is up 11 points over where it was in 1995, according to Gallup. Adherence to the pro-choice label is still down six. The same poll showing a pro-choice plurality also finds a majority of U.S. adults believe abortion should be “legal in only a few circumstances” or “illegal in all circumstances.”
Abortion remains a live political issue. So do most of the hot-button topics concerning religion in the public square.