Elvira Ramirez: Daughter of King Ramiro II of Leon, she entered the convent of San Salvador as a young girl. Elvira later became regent for her nephew, Ramiro III, repulsing Vikings raids and accompanying a coalition of Christian leaders against the Muslim caliph of Cordoba. The subsequent Christian defeat at Gormaz led to Elvira’s expulsion from the regency. The rebellion and overthrow of her nephew by Bermudo II would prevent Elvira from ever returning to her former position of power.
Urraca of Zamora and Elvira of Toro: Daughters of Fernando I of Leon, Castile and Galicia, both lived as professed virgins, though neither took the veil. On his death, Fernando partitioned his lands among his children with Urraca receiving the city of Zamora and Elvira, Toro, along with all the monasteries in the realm, part of an anomalous set of lands known as the Infantado, gifted to unmarried infantas. Urraca became involved in the conflicts between her three brothers for control of her father’s kingdoms, supporting her favorite, Alfonso, against their brother, Sancho, who was assassinated while laying siege to Zamora. Both sisters would play an influential role in their brother, Alfonso VI’s reign, though Urraca seems to have enjoyed the closer relationship, even being named queen in recognition for her part in ruling, leading some dubious sources to accuse her of incest with her brother. Both were patrons of religious institutions, particularly San Isidoro de Leon, where both would be buried.
Sancha Raimundez: Daughter of Queen Urraca of Leon-Castile and sister of Emperor Alfonso VII, Sancha would follow in her great-aunts’ footsteps, remaining a virgin throughout her life, receiving possession of the Infantado, and being recognized as a queen by her brother while serving as one of his most important advisers. Sancha picked up the family tradition of patronage of San Isidoro and would be buried there. Following her death, the Infantado was divided among female members of the royal family and religious institutions, such as Las Huelgas de Burgos, where infantas would continue to reside as abbesses and nuns.
Although various Roman Catholic groups denounced the ruling, and Christianity Today complained that the Roe decision “runs counter to the moral teachings of Christianity through the ages but also to the moral sense of the American people,” the vast majority of evangelical leaders said virtually nothing about it; many of those who did comment actually applauded the decision.
I was invited to attend a conference in Washington sponsored by the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Religious Right organization (though I didn’t realize it at the time). I soon found myself in a conference room with a couple of dozen people, including Ralph Reed, then head of the Christian Coalition; Carl F. H. Henry, an evangelical theologian; Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family; Donald Wildmon, head of the American Family Association; Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention; and Edward G. Dobson, pastor of an evangelical church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and formerly one of Jerry Falwell’s acolytes at Moral Majority. Paul M. Weyrich, a longtime conservative activist, head of what is now called the Free Congress Foundation, and one of the architects of the Religious Right in the late 1970s, was also there.
In the course of one of the sessions, Weyrich tried to make a point to his Religious Right brethren (no women attended the conference, as I recall). Let’s remember, he said animatedly, that the Religious Right did not come together in response to the Roedecision. No, Weyrich insisted, what got us going as a political movement was the attempt on the part of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to rescind the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University because of its racially discriminatory policies.
Weyrich, whose conservative activism dates at least as far back as the Barry Goldwater campaign in 1964, had been trying for years to energize evangelical voters over school prayer, abortion, or the proposed equal rights amendment to the Constitution. “I was trying to get those people interested in those issues and I utterly failed,” he recalled in an interview in the early 1990s. “What changed their mind was Jimmy Carter’s intervention against the Christian schools, trying to deny them tax-exempt status on the basis of so-called de facto segregation.”
During the meeting in Washington, D.C., Weyrich went on to characterize the leaders of the Religious Right as reluctant to take up the abortion cause even close to a decade after the Roe ruling. “I had discussions with all the leading lights of the movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s, post–Roe v. Wade,” he said, “and they were all arguing that that decision was one more reason why Christians had to isolate themselves from the rest of the world.”
“What caused the movement to surface,” Weyrich reiterated,“was the federal government’s moves against Christian schools.” The IRS threat against segregated schools, he said, “enraged the Christian community.” That, not abortion, according to Weyrich, was what galvanized politically conservative evangelicals into the Religious Right and goaded them into action. “It was not the other things,” he said.
Bayard Rustin was a prolific activist and the success of the March on Washington was credited to his planning.
This week we’re sharing stories of #LGBTQ history in our holdings. On Saturday, join us online for our second National Conversation, held in Chicago, on #LGBTQ human and civil rights: http://bit.ly/1UB5sCs
He was in federal prison from 1944 to 1946 for conscientiously objecting to serving in World War II. He helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Coalition to support the efforts of a young, then-unknown minister named Martin Luther King, Jr.
This portrait of Rustin was taken on April 5, 1968, during a meeting between civil rights leaders and President Lyndon B. Johnson after King was assassinated.
His achievements could have made him a household name, but his open homosexuality led organizations to keep him in the background.