God's Politics

God's Politics


Bob Francis: A New Pro-Life?

posted by God's Politics

Two times last week during our Pentecost 2007 conference – at the presidential candidates forum Monday night and our march to Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon – anti-abortion advocates not registered at our conference made their presence known in our midst. At face value, it seemed that they were there to protest our events, but I wanted to know more. So I wandered over to hear their stories and ended up talking for over an hour.
The group was young, passionate, and thoughtful. Our conversation covered a lot of ground. My very first question was whether they saw our respective messages as contradictory, and they adamantly said no. However, they qualified this by saying that they feel that sometimes groups can “forget” about certain issues and need to be reminded – an apparent dig at our priorities. It was clear that they see abortion as THE issue for Christians, the lens through which all other issues should be viewed.
What pleasantly surprised me, though, was how refreshingly different these young activists were from the stereotypes. While they have clearly chosen, for a variety of personal reasons, to make abortion their primary issue, they were hardly card-carrying members of the Religious Right. When I brought up the notion of a “seamless garment of life,” which would include stances against capital punishment and war, they were 100 percent on board. In fact, one of them was an outspoken vegan, taking his “seamless garment” ethic to the animal kingdom. They talked about the need for fair trade policies, and some had protested at WTO meetings. One of the women lives communally here in the U.S., trying to tread lightly on the earth. They were friends and fans of Shane Claiborne, a good friend of Sojourners and one of the keynote speakers at Pentecost 2007.
Together, we all lamented the false choices that are presented in the political world on the issues we care most about. For us, it seems that one party is often more in line with our vision for eradicating poverty and caring for “the least of these” by means other than the free market (which is anything but free – have you seen our commodity subsidies, for example?), but they often drop the ball on abortion. Conversely, the other party has integrally incorporated a strong stance against abortion into its platform in past years, yet it seems resistant to comprehensive abortion reduction measures and on many other counts fails to remotely approach what we all felt would be a biblical platform that values all life and truly cares for the poor. They also lamented that they are so often lumped in with the Religious Right, when they are anything but.
These young activists impressed me with their fervor, their organization, and most importantly, their overall sensibilities. While I may disagree with them on how much emphasis they put upon one issue at the expense of others, I was truly surprised at how much we had in common. It got me excited about the possibility of a new Third Way among our young activists of faith, a way in which we uphold a seamless garment of life while also upholding a robust compassion for the poorest among us, both here and abroad. It is a Third Way in which we fight for the unborn and the migrant farmer; where we advocate for the radical reduction of abortions and fair trade and debt reduction for poor nations; where we care for the unborn child while not forgetting mother and child once the baby comes into the world.
Maybe there is potential for a new pro-life movement that is pro-life in EVERY way, where young activists with different emphases but the same heart join to – as my boss says – not go right or left, but deeper.
Bob Francis is the organizing and policy assistant for Sojourners/Call to Renewal.



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J.Kru

posted June 13, 2007 at 11:00 am


Can’t one responsibly distinguish between the civil government executing guilty (in a civil sense) people, something God actually prescribed at a certain point in history, and private individuals murdering innocent (in a civil sense) people? Justice should be done on the land – unskilled workers should be paid a living wage, toxic waste should not be dumped near those who lack the resources and connections to keep that from happening, and those who murder should be put to death. That is justice.
You keep calling out for justice to be done, but oppose justice being done. I don’t understand.



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Ben Wheaton

posted June 13, 2007 at 11:20 am


I think we have to be very careful when discussing how broad the “pro-life” label can be carried. Specifically, it refers to people who are anti-abortion; one can be pro-life and still approve of capital punishment. However, it seems what Bob Francis is saying is that pro-life ought to refer to opposition to killing of any kind. There is a real difference between murder and execution; the difference is proper authority. The state is authorized to wield the sword, even unto death. Civilians are not. This includes war. Individual citizens, militias, etc. are not allowed to go to war, it requires a proper authority. By saying that the term “pro-life” means that you have to be opposed to all killing, whether by war, capital punishment, or abortion, you are ignoring this crucial factor: authority. Of course, there must also be a proper cause; a murderer deserves to die, an unborn child does not.



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Another nonymous

posted June 13, 2007 at 11:44 am


The administration of justice doesn’t require a Gospel of grace. Neither does the use of authority. There is absolutely nothing inconsistent about those who want to live out the radical implications of the Gospel opposing *all* forms of killing.



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kevin s.

posted June 13, 2007 at 11:50 am


I am not a huge fan of the “pro-life” semantic dance. If pro-life isn’t a good term for those who oppose legal abortion, then let’s find a different one and move forward. I don’t see what is gained by having to spell out a complete sentence to describe a position, when there is a convenient shorthand for it.
It’s like when a Christian is asked whether they are religious by someone unfamiliar with the faith, and they respond that they aren’t religious, but they are Christian. That’s cute, but it doesn’t really get the conversation going.
That said, I have long said that if the Democratic party reversed their stance on abortion, they would be incredibly difficult to beat. And by that I mean making a sincere effort to outlaw abortion, not just wordsmithing the issue to have their cake and eat it too. Alas, there are single-issue voters on both sides of the aisle, so we might never see the day come.



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E. Sohn

posted June 13, 2007 at 12:06 pm


Biblical priority doesn’t mesh with living in a pluralistic democracy. Advocacy and civil disobedience are necessary, and the fight for the abolition of abortion is something that should seem akin to the abolition of human slavery: unpopular at the time but a matter of human dignity, and thus worth fighting for nevertheless.
However, I agree that the prioritizing of one moral issue at the expense of others is an incorrect approach, one that does not account for the entire message of the Word. We are called to stop the killing, yes, and it is a huge issue, but God would not call us to minister to the poor thousands of times in the Bible if He felt it was inconsistent to defending the rights of human dignity. Why are these, in fact, not the exact same battle?
It’s one thing to be anti-abortion, and fervently so. It’s quite another to be anti-abortion in a way that deems anything short of the complete and instant cessation of all abortion as an opposition to the anti-abortion cause. If this is the challenge that is being set forth, the gauntlet that is being thrown down, then the Democrats and the Republicans have both failed miserably, and there is no practical solution.
Does the desire to obliterate abortion reach to waging wars on nations that have legal abortion? Should we invade Mexico because of their recent legalization of abortion? What about much of Europe and Asia? An unconstrained, unbalanced view is a very slippery slope, one that I feel may not take into account the mandate of the entire gospel.



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Mike Clawson

posted June 13, 2007 at 12:59 pm


Great article Bob! It is encouraging to see the increasingly complexity of positions out there – pro-life vegans for example! :)



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Eric

posted June 13, 2007 at 1:25 pm


I definitely agree that execution for a crime is fundamentally different than abortion. One is an innocent life while the other is guilty of a crime. Equating the two by saying if you’re pro-life when it comes to abortion then you have to be pro-life when it comes to capital punishment is silly.
That being said, just because they’re different doesn’t make capital punishment just. Yes, we’ve given the state the authority to order executions, but should it have that authority? Should the state ever be able to take someone’s life? I say no. Once that happens you’ve lost the chance for repentence and redemtion.
In addition, being pro-life on abortion does not mean you have to be anti-war. That’s just silly too. Being anti-war in every case is like saying, “I oppose using any sort of force to ensure justice.” You cannot divorce peace from justice.
I’m encouraged by Bob’s discussion with the pro-life activists, but discouraged by the assumption, common on this blog, that “concern for the poor” equates with supporting government programs to help them. So many here assume that if you don’t advocate for greater gov’t involvement in this area then you don’t care about fighting poverty.



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js

posted June 13, 2007 at 1:46 pm


The thing that troubles me about anti-choice activists is that they are single minded in their approach. They seem to say that the only way to stop abortions is through making them illegal. I think that’s a false and dangerous statement. I am a person of faith; I am pro-life. I am, however, pro-choice because without looking at the connectedness of race, class, education, and access to healthcare, we’re NOT playing on a level field.



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Kevin S.

posted June 13, 2007 at 2:00 pm


“The thing that troubles me about anti-choice activists is that they are single minded in their approach. They seem to say that the only way to stop abortions is through making them illegal.”
I’m not anti-choice anymore than you are anti-life. I support a broad range of choices.
To the heart of your argument. One could similarly argue that Bob Francis is single-minded in his approach to poverty. My approach to the abortion issue is that the most effective way to reduce abortions is to render them illegal. Further, I believe that (like the abolition of slavery), it is a moral and Constitutional imperative to afford legal protections to unborn children.
But yes, I also support the efforts of crisis pregnancy centers and adoption agencies. Our adoption system is in desperate need of red-tape removal, and there are a host of issues that go along with banning abortion.



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Mick

posted June 13, 2007 at 2:15 pm


As was mentioned in a previous post, I don’t think most of the writers on this site would advocate for a greater involvement of the government in confronting poverty if the American church didn’t do such a poor job of it to start with. So many American churches will talk about caring for the poor – and then build beautiful new buildings, run lavish VBS programs, and hold retreats costing over $200 for a weekend. Too many Christians have gotten comfortable ministering to other Christians rather than the marginalized and disenfranchised in society.



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Eric H.

posted June 13, 2007 at 2:17 pm


The other Eric a few posts down summarized my thoughts exactly. So as to avoid duplicating the response, I’ll just shout “What he said!”.
I’m new to the Sojourners/Red Letter Christians’ slant on things. I was raised by the “Religious Right”, but I’m trying to keep an open mind. I agree that there are more issues to be concerned about other than abortion and homosexuality. Addressing poverty is important, but like the “other Eric”, I don’t know if more government involvement is the answer. Shouldn’t the Church be a major vehicle through which the needs of the poor are met? Don’t local, domestic, and foreign missions address the needs of the poor? Maybe abortion is a “hot button” topic because without law changes, there is no other way to protect defenseless unborn children.



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derek

posted June 13, 2007 at 2:29 pm


To think that abortion is one of the only issues that might need legal intervention is very much a product of living in wealthy and comfortable suburban America. Try this…read Jonathan Kozol’s book “Savage Inequalities,” which tells the stories of some of the poorest areas in our country (looking specifically at the public schools in these areas). The incredible comparison comes when Kozol goes less than 10 miles away from hell-on-earth to some of the wealthiest areas of our country. And it’s a cycle that will never end unless the government intervenes. And why won’t the government intervene? Because the wealthy have the ear of the politicians.



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kevin s.

posted June 13, 2007 at 3:52 pm


“To think that abortion is one of the only issues that might need legal intervention is very much a product of living in wealthy and comfortable suburban America. ”
I have read Savage Inequalities, and I do not live in wealthy and comfortable suburban America. I have seen disastrous examples of government intervention, wherein it is governmental officials who have all the riches, while everyone else is left poor. I will take inequalities (even savage ones) over a system (e.g. Cuba) in which the entire population is treated as serfs.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 13, 2007 at 4:45 pm


kevin s.,
I’m transferring my response to your last post on the Duane Shank “Lord Have Mercy” thread to this one.
There was a point I tried to infer, but did not articulate very well. I’m even more interested to hear your thoughts after reading the following from you last post on this thread:
“I’m not anti-choice anymore than you are anti-life. I support a broad range of choices.” “…there are a host of issues that go along with banning abortion.”
To get off on the right foot, let me start with some of the things about which you and I agree:
Abortion is wrong, period. No if’s, and’s or but’s.
Abortion is legal in the U.S.; therefore, there are people who do not agree that it is wrong.
In the relatively recent history of the U.S., there have been a number of morally objectionable practices that were legal that through the actions of people guided by their principles, are now illegal in the U.S., and most of us now regard those practices disdain. Slavery, for example, child labor, and denying women and African-Americans the right to vote, were once regarded as acceptable.
You and I would like to see the day when abortion is no longer legal in the U.S. and regarded by most people as abhorrent.
Do you agree that in general, liberals tend to focus on the structural elements of problems (social factors that contribute to a problem) and conservatives tend to focus on agency – that is, the responsibility of the individual? I believe that you and I can agree that for any social problem, there are multiple factors that contribute to it, both in structure and agency, and that both must be address in order to find a solution – it’s not either/or. I’m not an ‘anything goes,’ ‘blame it on society’ liberal, and you are not a ‘victim-blaming’ conservative.
We also agree that abortion, and by direct inference, unwanted pregnancies are serious social problems in the U.S.
Here are a couple of points I would like to make:
1) If abortion were made illegal tomorrow, the problem of unwanted pregnancies would not go away.
2) Political/legal solutions to social problems are slow in coming.
3) There are often consequences to interventions.
Regarding my first point; people are responsible for their behavior, and pregnancy is one of the potential consequences of sex, but there are other social factors that contribute to unwanted pregnancy. I won’t go into a lot of detail here, but I have read heartbreaking studies on the perception inner city women have about their control of their own sexuality and contraception. There are cultural and biological influences that play a major role in sexual behavior. It is extremely difficult to address those factors, but ignorance can be effectively addressed.
With regard to my second point, it will be a long time before abortion becomes illegal in the U.S. (presuming it ever does). In the mean time, what are we doing to reduce the number of abortions performed? What are we doing to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies? If we’re doing nothing in anticipation of a legal solution, then we are ignoring all of those infants who are aborted between now and… whenever.
My third point, what happens when abortion is no longer an option? What options are we going to present to people? It would be foolish to think that we could stop people from having sex outside of marriage by telling them it’s wrong or telling people, “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” (personal responsibility) I am not saying by this that abortion should not be made illegal because of the potential consequences any more than I would say that slavery should not have been abolished because of the economic consequences to the South and the circumstances that lead to the impoverishment of inner city African-Americans.
You know that I am an advocate for sex and contraception education (by definition contraception includes, but is not limited to, abstaining from sexual intercourse). I am not suggesting that sex education is a panacea for the problem of unwanted pregnancies, abortion, or sexually transmitted infections, but I hope you agree that it can be an important component to addressing those problems – and as such, an area in which I feel I could make a difference.
Paul tells us that the Lord gives each of us different gifts and that we should respect each other as members of the same body. My profession and my education give me a perspective that focuses on social, educational, and medical aspects of public health problems. I have been moved by some of the things you have written about ministry and know that you have a heart for God, but you see things differently from me.
For that reason, I am very interested to hear your thoughts on these points.
Thanks.



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Another nonymous

posted June 13, 2007 at 4:53 pm


I’ve addressed this issue before when abortion has come up, but let me make it even more explicit.
One reason there is so much opposition to the pro-life movement is that many pro-choice people think there is also a broader agenda at work: not just to outlaw abortion but to outlaw contraception and strip back women’s rights. From what I have seen, there is, unfortunately, a lot of evidence that this is the case.
So let me put the question directly. How many of those who want to make abortion illegal also want to make contraception illegal? (And trust me – if your answer is yes to number one and no to number two, you need to do a better job of getting the word out.)



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derek

posted June 13, 2007 at 4:56 pm


“I will take inequalities (even savage ones) over a system (e.g. Cuba) in which the entire population is treated as serfs.”
You are assuming that eliminating an issue such as children who are homeless would require this country to become communist like Cuba. To encourage people to willingly accept injustice out of fear of decending into serfdom is simply scaring them into complacency.



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kevin s.

posted June 13, 2007 at 5:00 pm


“So let me put the question directly. How many of those who want to make abortion illegal also want to make contraception illegal? (And trust me – if your answer is yes to number one and no to number two, you need to do a better job of getting the word out.)”
I don’t personally know of anyone who wants to make contraception illegal. My wife and I use it for the time being. This is largely an argument promoted by NARAL and other groups in an attempt to frame this issue as one of rights, and to keep this issue in the courts. Largely, it is a straw man.
However, I will agree that pro-life advocacy is largely abysmal. NARAL and friends have done a savvy job of making pro-lifers look like troglodytes. So, yes, we need to do a better job of getting the word out.



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kevin s.

posted June 13, 2007 at 5:15 pm


“You are assuming that eliminating an issue such as children who are homeless would require this country to become communist like Cuba. To encourage people to willingly accept injustice out of fear of decending into serfdom is simply scaring them into complacency.”
By the same token, simply presuming those who are less sanguine about governmental solutions do not care about life is bullying them into acquiescence. There are two sides to the coin, was my point”



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Eric

posted June 13, 2007 at 5:20 pm


Anon – Have ever met a an abortion opponent who wanted to outlaw preconception birth control? I haven’t and I spend a lot of time with other people who would love to see abortion outlawed. I’m not sure what propoganda you’ve been reading.
Mick – Hmmmm…so according to your theory the writers on SoJo have given up on the churches being the solution to poverty and have instead turned to government as the solution? That is quite sad.



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Another nonymous

posted June 13, 2007 at 5:32 pm


“Anon – Have you ever met an abortion opponent who wanted to outlaw pre-conception birth control? I haven’t, and I spend a lot of time with other people who would love to see abortion outlawed. I’m not sure what propoganda you’ve been reading.”
Yes, I certainly have. I’m not reading any progaganda, but I am trying to make the point that many pro-choicers — people who would never read this blog — believe that outlawing contraception is the ultimate goal of the pro-life movement, and that pro-lifers are not doing a very effective job of convincing them otherwise.



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kevin s.

posted June 13, 2007 at 5:33 pm


“I’m not an ‘anything goes,’ ‘blame it on society’ liberal, and you are not a ‘victim-blaming’ conservative.”
I’m with you so far. To your points.
“1) If abortion were made illegal tomorrow, the problem of unwanted pregnancies would not go away.”
This is true. The attitude toward sexuality has been formed by the culture, and that attitude is often that women should submit to it out of respect for men. The antidote, to me, is to make men more responsible in the process. We are shamefully behind in the enforcement of child support payments.
However, we also teach women that they ought to respect men, even when men are not worthy of respect. It is a sin to idolize acceptance to the point where we are willing to give of our bodies to achieve it. To me, legal abortion exempts men from their responsibility, and encourages women to find acceptance in disreputable men.
I am of the opinion that forbidding abortion will re-attach sex to its consequences.
“2) Political/legal solutions to social problems are slow in coming.”
Correct. I am not one to suggest that we do nothing in the interim. As I’ve said before, I support crisis pregnancy centers and support comprehensive adoption reform. This would speak to your third point as well.
The truth is that there will always be pain and suffering attached to sex outside of marriage. God designed it that way. We should not be surprised when that pain extends to the rest of society. So nothing we propose will represent a complete solution. In truth, there are no seamless garments.
However, the destruction of innocent life as a means of filling the gap is entirely unacceptable to me. That we sanction it by dubbing it a constitutional right is an abomination that can be taken individually from other approaches to preventing the problem of unwanted pregnancy, in my view.
This issue frames how we view sex, and issues of life and death. Just as slavery served to undermine blacks even to this day, so legal abortion cheapens young life.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 13, 2007 at 6:09 pm


kevin s.
Just as there are people who do not agree that abortion is wrong, there are also people who do not believe that sex outside of marriage is wrong.
Cultural beliefs and values are extremely difficult, if not impossible to change. As an example; female genital mutilation is a fairly common practice in Ethiopia, but it is one that westerners do not understand. While I agree that it is a horrible practice, I felt that my time and energy would be better spent addressing other public health issues.
Our perceptions of morality are not universal.
I see greed as the biggest moral/social problem in this country (Matthew 6:24, 1 Timothy 6:10). I am not opposed to capitalism, but the U.S. has become a pagan nation, one that worships money and material goods. Sex has become commercial. We watch it on TV, we are bombarded with advertising that uses sex to sell, ‘fashion’ dictates how women should dress and even sexualizes prepubescent girls. This is not a liberal/conservative, Christian/non-Christian problem (look at the statistics on Christian men who consume porn), it’s all of us. Our commerce and our culture are steeped in sex.
We can talk about morality, but can we really change the way our culture values and places value on sex?



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Mick

posted June 13, 2007 at 6:11 pm


“Mick – Hmmmm…so according to your theory the writers on SoJo have given up on the churches being the solution to poverty and have instead turned to government as the solution? That is quite sad.”
I agree, it is sad. And I don’t believe that asking the government to solve our problems is Biblical, either. I also don’t believe that ALL churches fall into this category – but I do think that the Bible present a different picture of what the “church” is than what it often looks like in America today…particularly in regards to caring for the poor and needy.



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bren

posted June 13, 2007 at 6:22 pm


I think there needs to be a broader conversation about what constitutes justice. e.g., the first poster states that ‘those who murder should be put to death. That is justice.” That suggests that everyone found guilty of murder is indeed guilty. There is too much evidence that that is not true. If even one person is executed by mistake that is INJUSTICE on a major scale. Similarly, the argument that fighting war equals fighting for justice is based on an idea that is simply not borne out of the evidence. Those fighting in Iraq are fighting for justice? Pul-leeze. Remember: it wasn’t so very long ago that Dick Cheney and Sadam Hussein were pals! Did the decision to go to war against Hussein come about because Mr. Cheney woke up to the kind of many Hussein really was or because the interests of the United States had changed and the country no longer needed to have Hussein as a pal?
I don’t really care whether the appalling level of poverty amongst children in the U.S. is ended by government or the church, so long as it is ended. I believe that those who call themselves pro-life must also work to ensure that ALL children that are born are no longer condemned to live without adequate food and shelter. If they do not, we need not only to re-define ‘justice’ but also ‘pro-life’.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 13, 2007 at 6:43 pm


kevin s.,
“I am of the opinion that forbidding abortion will re-attach sex to its consequences.”
“it is necessary that each and every marriage act remain ordered per se to the procreation of human life.”
“every action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil” Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2366, 2370 http://www.usccb.org/catechism/text/pt3sect2chpt2art6.htm
“My wife and I use [contraception] for the time being.”
Yeah, if there were a couple of pages I could tear out of the Catechism…
Peace!



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Payshun

posted June 13, 2007 at 6:54 pm


Neuro:
We can talk about morality, but can we really change the way our culture values and places value on sex?
Me:
I agree completely. First in order to change our society we need to start focusing on the church and getting it honest. I think that’s where society will be impacted first. We have lost any credibility on the subject because we have focused so much on repressing and hating ourselves for having a sexuality. I think that has to change even if someone is tied to celibacy.
There is more but I think you get the point.
p



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Another nonymous

posted June 13, 2007 at 8:32 pm


Kevin -
Neuro’s point is well-taken. As soon as you start talking about re-attaching sex to its consequences, many people will assume, whether you mean them to or not, that you are opposed to contraception. That’s why you’re not likely to win any converts that way, any more than you will by telling women that you’re standing up for their best interests (which those who oppose women’s rights have always claimed to be doing). In fact, both of these arguments are likely to increase your opposition, not decrease it.
IMO, the only argument against abortion that is likely to win anybody over is that it is wrong to take human life, and for that argument to work, it has to be applied across the board. We’re not talking about preaching to the converted; we’re talking about changing people’s minds, and doing so requires extraordinary moral clarity.



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Stephen Brown

posted June 13, 2007 at 9:26 pm


In a perfect world, abortion would be legal and no one would ever have one.
We do not live in a perfect world and ours is populated with sinful people. What I find most disturbing in the posts is a complete lack of a belief in grace. We are saved by grace. to condemn any woman who makes a terrible choice and dismiss her on the basis of Biblical legalism is shameful.
I am not a pacifist and believe with Reinhold Niebuhr that “sometimes a season of violence is necessary for the restoration of justice.” I confess that i fall short of Jesus who was a pacifist. i work and live toward the day when violence of any kind in any arena of our lives.



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kevin s.

posted June 13, 2007 at 10:48 pm


“Cultural beliefs and values are extremely difficult, if not impossible to change”
I disagree. We once regarded black people as cattle, and we once sent all Japanese people to internment camps. Our laws have an impact on the culture, and I think the ruling that abortion must be legal impacted it negatively.
“We can talk about morality, but can we really change the way our culture values and places value on sex?”
If it can change for the worse, can’t it change for the better? Further, if Christians make an impact on the culture, why can’t it be in this arena? There are a lot of people with a lot of regrets about their sexual experiences. Can’t God move toward healing in this arena? I think he can.
“Neuro’s point is well-taken. As soon as you start talking about re-attaching sex to its consequences, many people will assume, whether you mean them to or not, that you are opposed to contraception.”
Only because they bring their biases to the equation. For those who believe that pro-life advocates are REALLY after a ban on contraception, I wonder if they could be convinced anyway. Would these people (whoever they are) rally behind the pro-life cause if they were convinced that the right to purchase contraceptives would remain unscathed? I doubt it.
That said, the discussion of tying sex to consequences is contending with Neuro’s (apparent) argument that the abortion issue is somehow extricable from the question of unwanted pregnancy.
To oppose legal abortion, I need only expose the logical flaw in the argument that we can determine when life begins by setting a biologically arbitrary standard of what constitutes life. As such, we have a Constitutional obligation to protect those lives, and its a scary world in which those protections do not exist.



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kevin s.

posted June 13, 2007 at 10:52 pm


“What I find most disturbing in the posts is a complete lack of a belief in grace.”
What posts?
“to condemn any woman”
Who is condemning?
“who makes a terrible choice and dismiss her on the basis of Biblical legalism is shameful.”
Who is dismissing her? What do you mean by legalism? I’m not sure what you are getting at.



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Another nonymous

posted June 13, 2007 at 11:07 pm


“Would these people (whoever they are) rally behind the pro-life cause if they were convinced that the right to purchase contraceptives would remain unscathed? I doubt it.”
Maybe not, but if they were convinced that pro-life really meant pro-life, in the sense conveyed by Bob Francis’s original post, I think you’d see some shift of ground. I’m quite sure you won’t otherwise.



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Mike Hayes

posted June 13, 2007 at 11:27 pm


Bob Francis,
Thank you for talking with the persons who focus on abortion, and for sharing those conversations with us.
How might groups like Sojourners get persons like those you spoke with to join with those of us who support the values in “God’s Politics” to advocate legislation to reduce the number of abortions (by providing support for women and children and those males who accept their responsibilities}?



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Anonymous

posted June 13, 2007 at 11:56 pm


“Maybe not, but if they were convinced that pro-life really meant pro-life, in the sense conveyed by Bob Francis’s original post, I think you’d see some shift of ground. I’m quite sure you won’t otherwise.”
I’m mixed on this. For some, I think there is some willingness to budge on this issue. However, when I pose the question to my left-leaning friends as to whether they would support a pro-life (as previously defined) Democratic nominee who agreed with them on other issues, the issue is usually a resounding “no”.
Part of this phenomenon might be the fact that they really needn’t settle. There are plenty of nominees who are plenty liberal, and plenty pro-choice. The same goes for Republicans. Even if abortion is not a “top three” issue, there are plenty of pro-lifers on the Republican side with strong conservative credentials.
This is why I think it would be interesting to see a Democrat who was genuinely against legal abortion. This might happen only after this issue is extricated from supreme court mandate, but it would be interesting to see what would happen. I suspect such a candidate would be a home run.



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kevin s.

posted June 13, 2007 at 11:56 pm


“Maybe not, but if they were convinced that pro-life really meant pro-life, in the sense conveyed by Bob Francis’s original post, I think you’d see some shift of ground. I’m quite sure you won’t otherwise.”
I’m mixed on this. For some, I think there is some willingness to budge on this issue. However, when I pose the question to my left-leaning friends as to whether they would support a pro-life (as previously defined) Democratic nominee who agreed with them on other issues, the issue is usually a resounding “no”.
Part of this phenomenon might be the fact that they really needn’t settle. There are plenty of nominees who are plenty liberal, and plenty pro-choice. The same goes for Republicans. Even if abortion is not a “top three” issue, there are plenty of pro-lifers on the Republican side with strong conservative credentials.
This is why I think it would be interesting to see a Democrat who was genuinely against legal abortion. This might happen only after this issue is extricated from supreme court mandate, but it would be interesting to see what would happen. I suspect such a candidate would be a home run.



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derek

posted June 14, 2007 at 9:30 am


“By the same token, simply presuming those who are less sanguine about governmental solutions do not care about life is bullying them into acquiescence.”
No it’s not.
Your previous statement that government intervention in an issue like children living in poverty will lead our country into a communist regime is promoting the status quo. It’s saying, “This issue is a problem, but I don’t want the solution to come through the government – so I’m okay with it staying the way it is.”
On the other hand, saying that the church has largely failed in the way it responds to children/families living in poverty (life outside of the womb) so lets work to have the government intervene is saying, “This issue is a problem, I’m not okay with it staying the way it is, so what are some ways we can begin to resolve it.”



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Vasu Murti

posted June 14, 2007 at 10:27 am


It was refreshing to read about young vegan pro-lifers. The fate of the animals and the fate of man are interconnected. (Ecclesiastes 3:19) A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami said in 1974:
“We simply request, ‘Don’t kill. Don’t maintain slaughterhouses.’ That is very sinful. It brings a very awkward karmic reaction upon society. Stop these slaughterhouses. We don’t say, ‘Stop eating meat.’ You can eat meat, but don’t take it from the slaughterhouse, by killing. Simply wait (until the animal dies of natural causes) and you’ll get the carcasses.
“You are killing innocent cows and other animals–nature will take revenge. Just wait. As soon as the time is right, nature will gather all these rascals and slaughter them. Finished. They’ll fight among themselves–Protestants and Catholics, Russia and America, this one and that one. It is going on. Why? This is nature’s law. Tit for tat. ‘You have killed. Now you kill yourselves.’
“They are sending animals to the slaughterhouse, an now they’ll create their own slaughterhouse. You see? Just take Belfast. The Roman Catholics are killing the Protestants, and the Protestants are killing the Catholics. This is nature’s law. It is not necessary that you be sent to the ordinary slaughterhouse. You’ll make a slaughterhouse at home. You’ll kill your own child–abortion. This is nature’s law.
“Who are these children being killed? They are these meat-eaters. They enjoyed themselves when so many animals were killed and now they’re being killed by their own mothers. People do not know how nature is working. If you kill you must be killed. If you kill the cow, who is your mother, then in some future lifetime your mother will kill you. Yes. The mother becomes the child, and the child becomes the mother.
“We don’t want to stop trade, or the production of grains and vegetables and fruit. But we want to stop these killing houses. It is very, very sinful. That is why all over the world they have so many wars. Every ten or fifteen years there is a big war–a wholesale slaughterhouse for humankind. But these rascals–they do not see it, that by the law of karma, every action must have its reaction.”
Pro-lifers look in horror as an entire class of humans are systematically stripped of their rights, executed, and even used as tools for medical research–but this is what we humans have been doing to animals for millennia!
Both the pro-life movement AND the peace movement fail to realize that abortion and war are the karmic reactions for killing animals.



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Anonymous

posted June 14, 2007 at 11:00 am


kevin s.,
“I support crisis pregnancy centers and support comprehensive adoption reform.”
Those are great ideas.
“Our adoption system is in desperate need of red-tape removal.”
There are a lot of potential barriers that we need to deal with.
Thanks for taking the time to consider my post and respond. My pairing of your statements regarding consequences of sex and contraception with the statements from the Catechism were an attempt at humor – I hope you didn’t take offence.
[Cultural beliefs and values are extremely difficult, if not impossible to change] “I disagree. We once regarded black people as cattle, and we once sent all Japanese people to internment camps.”
Frankly Kevin, I am not convinced that Americans would not again intern people of a certain race or nationality if we were led to believe that their presence in our country was a threat to our security. I’ll leave it at that.
I think prohibition is a good example of what happens when the laws are changed but the culture and values of our society are not. Again, there are a lot of people in this country who do not believe that abortion is murder and who do not want the laws changed.
I’m not suggesting that organized crime would step up to the plate to provide abortion services, although perhaps it’s that far fetched.
For the record, I do not believe that in general, people who oppose abortion want to outlaw contraception as well. I am not a believer in the ‘slippery slope’ or domino theories.
Peace!



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neuro_nurse

posted June 14, 2007 at 11:45 am


kevin s.,
“I hope you didn’t take offence.”
That was a poor choice of words on my part – I apologize if I offended you.
Peace!



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kevin s.

posted June 14, 2007 at 11:58 am


“I’m not suggesting that organized crime would step up to the plate to provide abortion services, although perhaps it’s that far fetched”
This would almost assuredly happen at some level. Organized underground systems would be created to facilitate abortion. But alcohol and abortion are fundamentally different things.
By and large, women regret having abortions at some level. Conversely, people rather enjoyed prohibition, probably moreso when the excitement of illegality made it even more appealing.
Banning abortion makes it less desirable, and it is not desirable as it is. The reason most women have regrets about their decision is that they know it was wrong at some fundamental level. The reason they feel that is because a death has occurred.
As such barriers such as Crisis Pregnancy Centers have been effective, in that they give women more time to think about their decision. Planned Parenthood, despite their vociferous protestations to the contrary, seeks to make the process as seamless as possible.



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Donny

posted June 14, 2007 at 12:32 pm


I want to agree with Wallisites on a few things. but I am tuly concerned that if I even remotely look like I side with Progressives on anything, that I will be thought of as approving the heinous things that Progressive ideology and theology stands for and promotes.
I cannot ever accpet abortion as birth control. Marriage is a man and a woman to Jesus and reiterated so many times by the Apostles, that I therefore will never join any group promoting homosexual marriage. I also firmly do not agree with Marxism, and that is clearly what “helping the poor” means to a Liberal-Progressive.
So I am labeled a Right-winger.
Yet, I am almost completely vegetarian now, have strong feelings about protecting the environment and caring for our animal neighbors and I have been working with troubled youth from the inner city and gang-life for two-decades, at the cost of making a great salary in the corporate world.
I do not like big-business corporate types, but I truly distrust and find distasteful Liberal-types even more. Looking at Kennedy and Pelosi, I see decadent types that are just as much hypocrites in reality as anything the Bush family represents.
So where does a Christian fit in, that desires to follow the “faith delivered only once to the Saints . . .” when both the Left and the Right alter the Gospel and the rest of the New Testament truly, for ther own horrific agendas?
On the Left we have Sodom and the Right we have Gomorrah. And in the middle we have a new generation following secular huhmanism into their own destruction. I know that as a fact.
That’s what it looks like to me.
donnyresponse@yahoo.com



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Bitner

posted June 14, 2007 at 1:15 pm


“I don’t personally know of anyone who wants to make contraception illegal.”
Unfortunately, I do know some people personally, and have talked with others. And they go between taking about BC pills and how they are really causing abortions, and the fact that telling teens about condoms will make them more promiscuous. Think about the Abstinence Only sex ed that conservatives would have as the only form of sex ed. I does lead someone with a pro-choice stance to believe that the pro-life group wants to have it’s cake and eat it too. Now, I know it’s not a PLers, but the more vocal have made it plain that not only do they want abortion illegal, but also don’t want their teens talked to about contraception. The reality is, that some of these kids will have sex, no matter what. So, while we can all agree (PC and PL) that we should be working to reduce the number of abortions, we obviously don’t agree on how that is to be done. Do PLers really believe that PCers WANT abortion rates to remain high? Looking at statistics for countries were abortion is illegal, the numbers are still way too high. So, how do we lower them when making abortion illegal hasn’t been proven to do so significantly, and the more extreme conservatives will not even discuss contraceptives for the teens most at risk?



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kevin s.

posted June 14, 2007 at 2:22 pm


Well, I think you engage the art of compromise. Want abortion to be illegal? Fund more contraceptive education for teenagers. If someone sees the ban on abortion as a stepping stone to banning contraceptives (I do agree that some methods of contraception cause abortion) then they simply do not get their way.
I think, however, that you are referring to a small minority. There are fringes of the abortion movement that see abortion as a way to control population. Frankly, I think pro-life causes should work harder to point this out. Instead it’s “baby has a heartbeat” this and “look at this aborted fetus” that. But for this discussion, it does very little to focus on the fringe.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 14, 2007 at 2:48 pm


Donny,
I don’t mean to be smug, but I don’t think you need to be worried that anyone would mistake you as approving those things about liberalism that you, and some of us who ARE liberals, find offensive.
Your post truly surprises me. I can’t recall you ever revealing some of the things about yourself you just did. I am very touched to hear that you work with inner city youth and that you care about the environment.
My surprise comes from my own prejudice. I had sized you up to be a stereotype you apparently are not. I hope that from reading my posts that you realize that I am not the stereotypical liberal whom you seem to disdain.
I happen to agree with you that both the right and the left are tainted with hypocrisy and have altered the gospel to suit our agendas. I wish that in this country we had a viable multiparty system, so that we had more than just two choices when we vote.
When I read the Old Testament prophets, I hear them speaking to us – to U.S. We have become a pagan nation ruled by greed and lust.
I’m going to share with you something I’ve really only talked about with my wife, something I don’t think most people understand, but I think on some level you will. January 2003 I returned from volunteering in Ethiopia for a year. I was struck with an almost paralyzing culture shock. For a while – weeks, months – I wondered if my flight had landed in hell instead of the U.S. – or if I had gone crazy. The short version is, I believe that many, perhaps most Americans live cheerfully in an illusion of our own creation. This ‘reality’ that we have created is a lie. (there is more to this, but it becomes very personal, and I think you get the picture) Seeing reality beyond this veil can be very frightening (which is why most people choose to remain in the illusion), but it can also be very liberating and beautiful. To out it in Biblical terms (so I don’t sound like a Buddhist!), Paul talks about living in the spirit and living in the flesh.
“where does a Christian fit in?” I ask myself this very question every morning when I read my Bible.
In the past I have written some harsh things to you and poked fun at you. I’m sorry. I hope we can move past that and have a meaningful dialog.
Peace!



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neuro_nurse

posted June 14, 2007 at 3:14 pm


I don’t think we need to worry about a resurrection of comstockery. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Comstock
Even though the Catholic Church calls contraception evil and immoral, 70% of American Catholic women use some form of contraception. http://cathmedweek.blogspot.com/2007/03/on-contraception.html
I wonder if Scalia and his wife use contraception… whoa, they have nine children! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scalia
Maybe we should worry!
Clarence Thomas is Catholic, has one child – and has been divorced. Kennedy, 3 children; Roberts adopted; Alito, 2 children.
I think contraception in the U.S. is safe – for the time being.



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Kevin Wayne

posted June 14, 2007 at 4:21 pm


For those of you who want to hang the problem on the Democrats, think of this:
Abortion is and has been Illegal in Ireland. Yet they are a Socialistic country that cres for the needs of the unwed mohters. Are you Conservatives willing to make the sacrifice this would take?
I moderate a Christians For Social Justice Group on MySpace. Look at the thread titled “Abortiions Illegal here” by a Candian/Irish Young lady, read what she has to say:
http://groups.myspace.com/ChristiansForSocialJustice



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Jerr yC. Stanaway

posted June 14, 2007 at 4:24 pm


How could anybody who believes human life is sacred even consider supporting candidates that are pro-abortion–abortion kills innocent children.You can’t “make up” for supporting abortion by being good on other issues.



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ron chandonia

posted June 14, 2007 at 4:36 pm


For a while, a long time back, I thought the Sojourners approach WAS the “new pro-life.” Then I started noticing that all the comments on the Sojourners list concerning abortion and related life-issues were negative and disparaging or, at best, dismissive (“people disagree on that sort of thing”). Nothing from Jim Wallis and friends indicated to me any desire to address the beginning point of a Seamless Garment approach since all the favored Sojourners candidates have been strongly supportive of abortion. It is extremely unfair, I think, for Sojourners to blame pro-lifers for their reluctance to engage a wider variety of life-enhancing causes when the cause of life itself is treated so casually in nearly everything you put out.



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???

posted June 14, 2007 at 4:37 pm


Jerry C. – please go away



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Stephen Brown

posted June 14, 2007 at 4:44 pm


1. “The truth is that there will always be pain and suffering attached to sex outside of marriage. God designed it that way.”
Here is a prime example of a lack of grace I mentioned. That a granddaughter came this way and is my great joy gives lie to the false assumptions about how God works. It is Biblical legalism at its worst.
2.”I won’t go into a lot of detail here, but I have read heartbreaking studies on the perception inner city women have about their control of their own sexuality and contraception. There are cultural and biological influences that play a major role in sexual behavior. It is extremely difficult to address those factors, but ignorance can be effectively addressed”
That this borders on racism and class ism ought to be self-evident. Don’t raise the issue if you won’t support it with facts.
3. “Abortion is wrong, period. No if’s and’s or but’s.”
No grace here either. Not even the health of the mother gets an exception.
Finally, many posts argued they knew no one who saw anti-choice connected to anti-contraception. As shown below, they are out there and they are growing.
“Contraception is more the root cause of abortion than anything else,” Joseph Scheidler, an anti-abortion veteran whose Pro-Life Action League sponsored the conference, said in an interview.
No one knows how many supporters Scheidler and his colleagues have, but conservative leaders are watching to see if the anti-contraception rhetoric gains traction.
Of special interest is how closely evangelical Christians are willing to align themselves with traditional Catholics on the issue. The Catholic Church long has opposed contraception, but evangelicals generally embraced its use–until recently, some argue.
“It is clear there is a major rethinking going on among evangelicals on this issue, especially among young people” disenchanted with the sexual revolution, said Rev. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “There is a real push back against the contraceptive culture now.”
Source: Chicago Tribune



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A. Woman

posted June 14, 2007 at 4:47 pm


Where are the women? It strikes me as curious that in my experience with the abortion conversation men seem to be the louder voices of black and white conviction. As it is with this thread: the primary voices seem to be coming not from women, but from men. What are the implications of a male dominated conversation about abortion? What would the voices of women do to this conversation?



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neuro_nurse

posted June 14, 2007 at 4:48 pm


“all the favored Sojourners candidates have been strongly supportive of abortion”
I was not aware that Sojourners had favored or otherwise endorsed any candidate.



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kevin s.

posted June 14, 2007 at 5:06 pm


“What would the voices of women do to this conversation?”
Polls suggest that, if anything, it would make it a more pro-life conversation. Regardless, the ethics and logic of abortion law would remain unchanged, regardless of who was making a particular argument.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 14, 2007 at 5:16 pm


Stephen Brown,
“That this borders on racism and class ism ought to be self-evident. Don’t raise the issue if you won’t support it with facts.”
I had a midterm today, so I didn’t bother citing my reference. I figured Kevin would cut me some slack on that one. You missed the point anyway, which is that there are social factors that influence sexual behavior to which legalism and presumed moral superiority are blind.
Kendall, C., Afable-Munsuz, A., Speizer, I., Avery, A., Schmidt, N., Santelli, J. (2005). Understanding pregnancy in a population of inner-city women in New Orleans – results of qualitative research. Social Science & Medicine, 60, 297-311.
Sorry, this comes from a medical database to which you probably don’t have access, but if you’ll provide your Email address, I’d be happy to send it to you in PDF. See also: Jed Horne’s. “Desire Street.” (2005).
3. “Abortion is wrong, period. No if’s and’s or but’s.” “No grace here either. Not even the health of the mother gets an exception.”
I admit that statement excludes extenuating circumstances, but I was trying to keep the discussion focused on a couple of points. That hardly qualifies you to say I lack grace.
If you would go back and read my posts, I think you would find that:
a) I am a liberal
b) I believe that making abortion in illegal without addressing the consequences will cause serious problems in our society.
c) I am strongly in favor of comprehensive sex education – including contraception.
Finally, I attempted to post another comment that Beliefnet blocked for some reason or other, the gist of which was: the majority of Catholic women in the U.S. use some form of contraception ( http://cathmedweek.blogspot.com/2007/03/on-contraception.html ) and of the five Catholic Supreme Court Justices, only Scalia has nine children – Thomas, Roberts, Kennedy, & Alito each have a few children or have adopted children. So I seriously doubt that the legality of contraception is threatened by the Catholic Church in the U.S.



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Anonymous

posted June 14, 2007 at 5:22 pm


BTW, I found the New Orleans study ‘heartbreaking’ because the women perceived themselves as having little or no control over their own fertility. Most of them felt that teen sex was inevitable, that men controlled contraceptive use, and that once they were pregnant and became mothers, they felt that they and their children were better off without the fathers.



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kevin s.

posted June 14, 2007 at 5:23 pm


“Here is a prime example of a lack of grace I mentioned. That a granddaughter came this way and is my great joy gives lie to the false assumptions about how God works. It is Biblical legalism at its worst.”
Nonsense. Just because god made something into good does not mean that the result is desirable. Sex outside of marriage causes pain. If you don’t believe that, then you believe that God confined sex to marriage as some sort of arbitrary rule.
“That this borders on racism and class ism ought to be self-evident. Don’t raise the issue if you won’t support it with facts.”
Huh? How is this racism?
“No grace here either. Not even the health of the mother gets an exception.”
I think Neuro intended such an exception, or at least for life of the mother. Saying something is wrong is not a refusal to extend grace. In face, extending grace assumes that a wrong has been committed.
“”It is clear there is a major rethinking going on among evangelicals on this issue, especially among young people” disenchanted with the sexual revolution, said Rev. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “There is a real push back against the contraceptive culture now.”"
As a side note, I would LOVE to see a member of Sojo debate Al Mohler. Jim Wallis would be eviscerated (and perhaps less politely than he was by Greg Boyd). I don’t always agree with Mohler, but that dude is smart.
End side note. I don’t think a reference to the contraceptive culture is the same as advocating a ban on contraception. To my knowledge, Mohler does not oppose legal contraception.



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neuro_nurse

posted June 14, 2007 at 5:31 pm


Also, the majority of the women in the New Orleans study felt that abortion is murder.



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Payshun

posted June 14, 2007 at 5:44 pm


Kevin said:
Nonsense. Just because god made something into good does not mean that the result is desirable. Sex outside of marriage causes pain. If you don’t believe that, then you believe that God confined sex to marriage as some sort of arbitrary rule.
Me:
Sex inside of marriage causes pain too or have you not kept up w/ the studies on Mercy Sex, rape inside of marriage… I think you are a little naive here when it comes to the reality that when two broken people get together pain can sometimes occur. It’s just humanity and marriage doesn’t always change that. Humanity is broken, selfish and needy. Sex inside marriage can be a very beautiful thing but it can also be hell. I have counselled too many couples to not know that.
p



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Another nonymous

posted June 14, 2007 at 5:48 pm


“I don’t think a reference to the contraceptive culture is the same as advocating a ban on contraception. To my knowledge, Mohler does not oppose legal contraception.”
Perhaps not, but that’s not the point. As the quotes provided by Stephen show (and there was a lengthy article in the NY Times Magazine late last year making the same point), evangelicals who oppose abortion are increasingly fighting against cultural acceptance of contraception as well. For those, yourself apparently included, who believe that opposing abortion could go along with advocating use of contraceptives, the tide is moving in the wrong direction.



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Hali

posted June 14, 2007 at 6:52 pm


I would like to thank Bob Francis, his pro-life visitors, and so many of you who have posted on this blog for chipping away at the stereotype that the pro-life movement is monolithic, right-wing, and anti-woman.
I personally cannot reconcile my belief that abortion is murder with a tolerance for its remaining legal. However, I do not think that simply banning it will make a real difference. It might save some lives, but I’m afraid it would end some lives as well. There are quite a few things we need to turn around in our own culture, both on the left side and the right. A few of these things might be ameliorated with government intervention, but most of them can’t. There is always a difference between what a culture says it values and what it acts like it values. We make a big deal about life, family, and respect, but we don’t act that way.
I will stop here before I go completely into rant mode. Thanks again, everybody.



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bren

posted June 14, 2007 at 8:35 pm


Early this week, I heard a story on the radio about a woman in Colombia who had three young children and was carrying a fourth, when she was discovered to have cancer. There was medicine that would alleviate her cancer, certainly extending her life, but its downside was that it would cause her body to abort. The law as it then was–and the church–would not allow her to take the medicine. The law has since been changed, but it was too late for this mother. She died Monday night, leaving four children under the age of 10–and no government or church official stepping up to the plate to look after them.
Among many other things, this heartbreaking story is one more reminder to me that if one focuses on one issue, such as abortion, as the most important issue to address, we lose sight of the larger picture–and terrible things, like four motherless, homeless little children, ensue.
That larger picture is also part of God’s world; if we focus on only one point (e.g., sex has consequences), we will, I think, discover that ignoring the rest of God’s world will also have very serious consequences.



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heidi h.

posted June 14, 2007 at 10:49 pm


“How could anybody who believes human life is sacred even consider supporting candidates that are pro-abortion–abortion kills innocent children.You can’t “make up” for supporting abortion by being good on other issues.”
jerry – whether a candidate is pro-life or pro-choice…it doesn’t seem to make any difference. nothing changes. we’ve recently had a pro-life president with a pro-life house and senate (beg. of bush’s first term) and we now have a pro-life leaning supreme court. big whoop. we will see no discernable change on this issue regardless of if a candidate is pro-life, pro-choice, or pro-whatever. it’s not that i don’t care about abortion and life (i do), it’s that i see it as a dead-end issue POLITICALLY. therefore, i choose to support organizations that support adoption, care for young mothers, and encourage caring for life. i do this outside of the political realm. when it comes to political candidates i don’t want to be a one issue voter. i imagine you’re a much deeper person than only being concerned about one thing – so let me urge you to un-narrow your focus and look at a host of issues biblically. then make a decision. to imply that a christian can only support a pro-life candidate is continuing down the wrong path, i think. show me a pro-life candidate who actually has some concrete ideas and a record of dealing with abortion/life comprehensively (including life following the womb) and then we’ll talk.



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Jen R

posted June 14, 2007 at 11:48 pm


Actually, it’s my understanding that this is not a “new” pro-life, but more of a return to an older version of the movement. There used to be a lot more pro-life Democrats and progressives (at least, in public life — we are still here in the grassroots) before the abortion issue was co-opted by the right in the early 1980s in order to bring voters to the Republican Party.



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Kevin Wayne

posted June 15, 2007 at 2:57 am


Don’t tell Jerry C to go away- he’s a fellow Mennonite! :)



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sharon

posted June 15, 2007 at 4:10 am


Sorry to those of you who are ingaged in a discussion on abortion. This goes back to the whole notion of a seamless garment of life.
Ben, you say that “a murderer deserves to die.” Yes, but we all deserve to die. We are all sinners and the wages of that sin is death. At the same time, who of us hasn’t hated someone before, therefore committing murder in heart? But God gives us the grace to live. Aren’t we called to extend that same grace to others? I believe that Grace is a central point of the seamless life ethic.
There are certainly differences between war, capital punishment, and abortion. There are also authority issues. But using an “authority” argument to say that capital punishment is okay is ridiculous. If you believe it’s wrong, then believe it’s wrong. If you believe it’s right, then stick to that, but don’t say it’s okay because of the authority. We are to respect our authorities, but respect doesn’t require support. We have also been given the authority to have abortions, but neither of us agrees with that. A consistent ethic on authorities should also be used.
Who is the person who makes a judgement on whether someone deserves to die or not? When the woman was caught in adultery, Jesus told the leaders that the one who was without sin should cast the first stone. In the end, Jesus himself was the only leader standing there. He was the only one who had any right to throw a stone at the woman, and he forgave her. Who of us is without sin? We don’t have a right to cast a stone, but we do have a right to extend God’s grace.



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Bitner

posted June 15, 2007 at 9:48 am


“Where are the women?”
Oh, we’re around :)



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The Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing

posted June 15, 2007 at 12:35 pm


Rev. Debra Haffner of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing writes: “The fact is that abortion must be safe, legal, rare,
and accessible. We must not make abortion rarer by
making it harder to get. Because contraceptives fail,
because of compromising fetal health issues that don’t
emerge until well along in the pregnancy and life
threatening complications of pregnancy, there will
always be some abortions. But surely we can learn the
lessons of other developed countries: provide lifespan
sexuality education, provide easily accessible
contraceptive services, provide adequate support for
pregnant women and their children and abortion rates
come down.”
For more, http://debrahaffner.blogspot.com



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Eric

posted June 15, 2007 at 3:26 pm


Sharon – Thanks for bringing the conversation back to the original topic! I agree mostly with what you’ve said, but was confused about one part. Are you saying that we, as a society, shouldn’t judge others or punish them for crimes they’ve committed or just that capital punishment is unjust regardless of the transgression? I just want to clarify.



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carl copas

posted June 15, 2007 at 5:59 pm


kevin s: “Jim Wallis would be eviscerated (and perhaps less politely than he was by Greg Boyd).”
kevin, when did Wallis debate Greg Boyd? Boyd is one of my favorites. Is there a transcript online?



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Anne Feczko

posted June 15, 2007 at 7:48 pm


Thank you, Bob!
As one of these young people who has been protesting abortion for years, along with capital punishment, the School of the Americas, the injustice of “free trade”, and other social justice issues, I was so relieved to read an honest portrayal of the people you met. One of the key lessons that your experience highlights is the necessity for dialogue on the topic of abortion. You could have dismissed them as young and naive, as religious zealots, as single-issue voters… but instead, you took the time to simply have a conversation.
For most of my childhood and adolescence, it was very difficult for me to talk about this issue because I believe so strongly in the sanctity of pre-born life. But slowly I learned to deal with my strong emotions and convictions while respectfully listening to people with diverse opinions, and it was through these conversations that I have found hope in constructive solutions to abortion. For example, Feminists for Life (feministsforlife.org) recognizes that women deserve better than abortion, and they work hard to give women and families the support they need and deserve to choose life.
So thank you for talking, everyone. Let’s keep talking and working towards a future in which all humans are treated with dignity and respect.



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Anonymous

posted June 17, 2007 at 6:08 pm


Another nonymous raises an interesting point:
We won’t win the pro-life argument the way that we are going. Maybe if we simply state that who are we to say that we are about social justice if we can’t stand up for the most voiceless and vulnerable of us all would resonate. And make it clear that this isn’t about taking away women’s rights, it is about protecting the right to life. This is written in the Preamble of the Declaration of Independence.
Hmmm…but I’m not so sure about all this Sojourners hype, though I am certainly a Christian with some radically progressive beliefs that don’t fit in any of the active political parties and wouldn’t even fit in Sojourners if it were to become one. Another nonymous makes another interesting point that the administration of justice and use of authority never required the Gospel of Grace. True and it remains true. I’ve never placed my faith in government and never will. I place my faith in Jesus Christ.



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Bill Samuel

posted June 17, 2007 at 8:16 pm


Thanks, Bob, for pointing out that there are pro-life people who are actually pro-life in general, not only anti-abortion. I’m not young, like those protesters, but if I had not been out of the country I might have been interested in allying with them.
Seamless garment/consistent life ethic folks would appreciate it if Sojourners would be more receptive to our approach. While nominally sympathetic in some statements and affiliations, their actual actions and frequent disparaging comments about opponents of abortion seem to make them functionally opponents of the consistent life ethic.
While it is true that Sojourners has not endorsed the candidates it invited to the forum, it has implied that these are the only ones to consider and Jim Wallis keeps saying favorable things about them, and has never acknowledged that they all fundamentally oppose Christian values. And Sojourners refused to include any candidates with less establishment views in its forum, whether Democrats or not.
The three candidates are all consistent death ethic candidates, favoring a larger military, abortions with absolutely no limits, and the death penalty. And the fact is that poverty, the major ostensible focus of Sojourners these days, will not effectively be addressed as long as the military gets the bulk of the resources – a situation endorsed by all three candidates and one that Sojourners refuses to confront (it ran a major campaign ostensibly arguing the budgets are moral documents without once mentioning where all the money needed for programs to combat poveryt is actually going).
Media reports noted that the candidates only got “soft ball” questions. Jim Wallis, a master of false advertising, claims to be prophetic but when he gets opportunities with establishment pro-death politicians like these never says anything remotely prophetic and seems instead to do all he can to ingratiate themselves with them.
As part of the false advertising, this was called a Pentecost conference. Wallis, an ordained clergy person, should be aware that Pentecost represents radical transformation by Jesus Christ. It did not represent an endorsement of the establishment. If Wallis wants to hold these conferences glorifying establishment politicians who resolutely oppose transformation, he at least should have the decency not to call them Pentecost conferences.
Jesus was notably hostile to religious leaders who curried favor with the political establishment. What would Jesus have to say about Jim Wallis?



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Rev. R. Johnson

posted June 18, 2007 at 10:13 am


I think we are very good at creating laws, but we suck at offering grace.
Here is a quote from Martin Luther, the 16th century church reformer:
“Consider the following case: A woman, wed to an impotent man, is unable to prove her husband’s impotence in court, or perhaps she is unwilling to do so with the mass of evidence and all the notoriety which the law demands; yet she is desirous of having children or is unable to remain continent. Now suppose I had counseled her to procure a divorce from her husband in order to marry another, satisfied that her own and her husband’s conscience and their experience were ample testimony of his impotence; but the husband refused his consent to this. Then I would further counsel her, with the consent of the man (who is not really her husband, but only a dweller under the same roof with her), to have intercourse with another, say her husband’s brother, but to keep this marriage secret and to ascribe the children to the so-called putative father. The question is: Is such a woman saved and in a saved state? I answer: Certainly, because in this case an error, ignorance of the man’s impotence, impedes the marriage; and the tyranny of the laws permits no divorce. But the woman is free through the divine law, and cannot be compelled to remain
continent. Therefore the man ought to concede her right, and give up to somebody else the wife who is his only in outward appearance. Moreover, if the man will not give his consent, or agree to this separation — rather than allow the woman to burn [I Cor. 7:9] or to commit adultery — I would counsel her to contract a marriage with another and flee to a distant unknown place. What other counsel can be given to one constantly struggling
with the dangers of natural emotions?” from Luther’s Works, Vol. 36 (Fortress Press, 1959)
My point here is not to debate marriage, but to point out Luther’s observation of the “tyranny of the laws” and being in a “saved state”. When the current “tyranny of laws” that keep abortion legal are changed, there will still be women and doctors who, for very real and ethical reasons, choose to follow a course of abortion despite the laws. And, those who choose the course of abortion will find themselves being in a “saved state” despite the laws prohibiting abortion. The “divine law” of grace will trump the human law of prohibition. God will simply not demand repentance or guilt from women and doctors who ethically determine the appropriateness of abortions despite laws against abortion.
I think that Christians are very good at making laws. But grace – that’s what is both incomprehensible and unlegislatable.



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sharon

posted June 19, 2007 at 1:23 pm


Eric,
I believe that we don’t have the right to use capital punishment. But I also believe that people who make criminal mistakes must receive punishment (based on fair judgment).
At the same time–this doesn’t have to do directly with your question–I believe the prison system in the States needs a complete overhaul so that there is true grace–not fifty years in the slammer doing nothing, but a real chance for rehabilitation. And justice should be centralized in ways to keep people from making mistakes that land them in prison, rather than just building more prisons. I read last year (while working as a literacy intervention tutor in Arkansas) that the State of Louisiana builds prisons based on the reading scores of fourth graders. Perhaps if the time spent building a prison were spent with those failing fourth graders, then not as many prisons would be needed.



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Christian Brightman

posted November 19, 2007 at 4:05 pm


What are today’s racisms against colored people and sexisms against women?
1. Republicans discouraging colored people attempting to vote in the South/Bible Belt/KKK Belt.
2. Churches preaching politics against women, which is against IRS tax exemption status. Church is for worship not politics. Several churches are comparing candidates to Hitler and allowing the audience to solely agree with “Hallelujah,” “Amen,” and “That’s Right Brother.” The first US Constitutional Amendment allows for freedom of religion and speech. That means not forcing religious views on the masses. Their aim is to limit women’s right to safe and quality healthcare. As a person whose mother was raped by law enforcement and nearly died at the hand of a back alley butcher, I hope brainwashed women will wake up and fight for each born woman’s right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. Churches please start focusing on adopting the born 143 million orphaned children (orphanshope.org) who want to be valued as much as white newborns are valued.
3. Free trade sending jobs to slave labor camps in China and South America where people work 16 hour days 7 days a week for pennies (Walmart: the high cost of low prices).
4. Calling Native Americans without Visas – illegal human beings.



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Amalthea

posted December 12, 2007 at 4:50 pm


Thanks for the thoughtful post. As an outspoken pro-life vegan and someone who emphasizes fair trade, I found it very interesting.



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Jerry C. Stanaway

posted January 1, 2008 at 5:16 am


It’s a sin to support laws that make it legal to practice lethal discrimination against unborn individuals. Those who want to keep abortion illegal must be prejudiced agaist the unborn since they do not advocate equal rights for our unborn sisters and brothers.



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