Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


A Letter, Evangelicals, and Abortion

posted by Scot McKnight


How do you respond to this letter to me? We occasionally get letters that we think would be good for public, civil conversation. This is one of those. The letter is being used by permission and I’m urging you to be civil and thoughtful in your response. We are esp interesting in how evangelicals who will vote for Obama answer this letter.

Hey Scot -

 Sorry
to bother you, I’m sure you receive many emails; but I have a political
question.  And to spare coming off accusatory toward any of my
Democrat-voting co-employees where I work, I figured you’d be
a good go-to person since you seem to be one of those evangelicals who might cast a
ballot for Obama on the 4th

 


Here’s
my hang-up:  I’m concerned for the poor and outcast in our society
because I know God cares deeply for them.  And because I have gleaned
that Dem’s are traditionally known to be more intentionally for those
who would fall into that category, I am tempted to vote Obama.  Yet, I
cannot get past the abortion issue.
  It seems to me that although we
have the poor and outcast among us,
at least they are among us
that we may care for them both spiritually and physically.  The aborted
are not, and never will be.  So although I am tempted to vote Obama for
social reasons, I cannot.  Am I wrong in thinking this way?  Am I not
seeing something?

Any advice/guidance/facts/etc.?

Grace and Peace.



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Matt S.

posted November 3, 2008 at 12:52 am


I’m considering a vote for Obama precisely because of the abortion issue. The argument I’m considering “buying” is that an Obama administration can and will work to meet the needs of the least among us and thereby reduce the number of abortions much more than conservative attempts at legislation to outlaw abortions. Why? It appears that it is the poorest among us that have the highest rates of abortion because of the societal/economic pressures on them. For more facts and information on the argument, I’ve found this site to be useful: prolifeproobama.com.
There are many other issues I’m thinking through before casting my vote, but on the abortion issue, I’m finally beginning to lean towards Obama.



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Jason

posted November 3, 2008 at 2:08 am


I am someone who has been leaning toward Obama but struggled with the abortion issue. There are several things that have helped me with my decision (I have decided to vote for Obama). The first was explained well in the first comment (i.e. taking care of the least of these is helping reduce abortions). The second was when I starting doing research on Roe v Wade and what would happen if it was overturned. The religious right has been adamant on saying that Roe v Wade needs to be overturned at all costs even to the point of making it the only issue that is relevant in voting. But, do we even know what would happen… AND, is it even beneficial to the pro-life movement (and when I say that I am broadening that from the original intent to include all issues relating to life: health care, war, human rights, etc…). Here are some articles that I have been reading
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2004/11/14/what_happens_if_roe_is_overturned/
http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200606/roe
Granted these are just articles… but it raises some interesting questions and issues. Most notably, that overturning Roe v Wade could create a political backlash that makes abortion more prevelant.
I just think that we need to get beyond the idea that criminalizing something is the answer (look at prohibition).
I do not agree with Obama on this issue but I think that there is hope . I think that working at reducing abortions is a better way of dealing with it then simply criminalizing it.
I am voting for Obama because I believe he has more of a consistent ethic of life (i.e. health care, immigration, etc…). But, I do not agree with him on everything… if he is president I believe the church needs to push him on abortion and (since I believe in nonviolence) the war. If Mccain is president I think we should push him on his stance on the war, immigration (unless he goes back to what he did before), health care, and treatment of the poor.



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Tyler Mahoney

posted November 3, 2008 at 2:24 am


Jim Wallis had an interesting view on this, I don’t know if it will answer the question fully. But its important to watch. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93fVCGc4Izk



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Tony Hunt

posted November 3, 2008 at 3:50 am


I am a younger Evangelical voting for Obama. For me, abortion is not the only “life” issue. Many things from Foreign Policy, to Health Care, to fair wages and trade, all of these ARE significant issues of life. One thing that helped me off the bat was to recognize this.
I would ask you to consider how has the Republican Party actually helped with Abortion? 7 out of 9 of the Supreme Court Justices were appointed during Pro-life Presidency’s. And for over twenty years, since the rise of the Religious Right, Republican politicians have simply stated that they are against abortion, but have not done a damn thing about it. They take your votes and leave. Many times they might have had a chance to begin the process towards reducing abortions, by passing “compromise” bills with Democrats; but they know that if they do that, then they will not get re-elected, and so they don’t. Because they don’t, they get re-elected as a “Pro-life” candidate. It’s all a vicious circle.
I had to realize that I could not hang all of my hopes on Roe v Wade. I needed to look at the root causes of abortions, which are, oddly enough, poverty, poor education, and poor health care. I seem to remember a party who really backed those things, and it doesn’t start with an “R.” “Fact” – The country with the lowest abortion rates is The Netherlands! Why? Because of how they handle these three things. (ok, I’m sure it’s a little more complicated than that, but I know it’s a big reason)
We need to take baby steps to ending abortion. And we Evangelicals need to stop being told how to discern the will of God in an election by a bunch of Politicians! So for me, tackling at least those three things, which I was already wanting to do anyway!, are a great first step, and one which I believe Barack Obama will do better.



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Steve

posted November 3, 2008 at 7:52 am


I am a “Pro-Life” Democrat and an Obama supporter. I have struggled with this issue for years. I feel for the first time that the Democratic Party “tent” is big enough to include my (our) views on this contentious matter. Below is something I wrote several months ago as I was working through this:
We are all familiar with the polarizing labels, “Pro-Life” and “Pro-Choice.” But how do you refer to someone who…
Is “Pro-Life,” but recognizes that the Republican Party has been using this as one of its main wedge issues to stay in power with the help of Evangelical voters for decades. That no matter how many Supreme Court Justices the GOP appoints, they will probably never overturn Roe v. Wade. In the meantime though, “supply side economics” seems to be the broader GOP agenda. And that abortions actually tend to increase under Republican administrations (at least up until the current Bush administration approved the so called “morning after pill”) while at the same time resources for children’s health and wellbeing are cut. Is such a platform more “Pro-Embryo” than truly “Pro-Life?”
And at the same time that person is “Pro-Choice” in that they recognize making an informed choice about a matter like having an abortion is far more compelling when made by an individual rather than when that individual is coerced by attempts to “legislate morality.” But at the same time believes that choice should start with the act of conception itself. That everyone knows the link between sexual intercourse and pregnancy and can therefore choose from a myriad of birth-control methods, and if there is a concern that any of those methods might fail, can choose not to have sex if they for sure want to avoid a pregnancy. And that of all the birth control methods available, abortion is by far the most destructive, not only to the fetus (for which it is fatal) but also many times to the physical and emotional wellbeing of the woman (and man) involved and in some mysterious way, religious or not, to our society at large. And that if all else fails and a life is created, that leaves the last choice…of responsibility towards that life, even if she or he is later offered for adoption.
How do you refer to such a person? “Pro-…” what?



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B. Stanley

posted November 3, 2008 at 8:01 am


There seems to be a theme running here, “Help the poor = reduce abortion.” Sounds good but do Obama’s policies really give us the best chance at accomplishing these things? Someone mentioned poverty (economy), education, and healthcare. I agree, these are three BIG things that need addressed. I’ll start with healthcare, Obama’s program heads in the direction of some of our more socialist global neighbors. The question, for me, then becomes, “are we willing to head down that path, and can America do Socialism in a way that negates the negatives of that system of government?”
Education – I could say a lot here but will restrict it to this question: “Should politicians be deciding how our children should be educated, or is that the job of parents and teachers?”
Economy (poverty) – Contrary to the democratic parties rhetoric, history shows that trying to stimulate the economy from the bottom up doesn’t work, while stimulating the growth of businesses has helped the economy in the past. I also have strong feelings about whose job it is to take care of the poor among us. Short answer: not the governments! This has gotten screwed up since the great depression.
I’m not a political expert, nor do I consider myself to be far right or left. However, I do believe in the People of the USA and think that smaller government better enables regular people to get involved and make decisions. I’ll be voting for the candidate that is more to the center and will provide a check and balance to a liberal congress: John McCane.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 3, 2008 at 8:07 am


These are good comments and the civility is to be admired.



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Dan

posted November 3, 2008 at 8:07 am


Those Christians who believe that somehow an Obama presidency will lead to fewer abortions need to read the article below.
http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/viewarticle.php?selectedarticle=2008.10.14_George_Robert_Obama's%20Abortion%20Extremism_.xml
Short version. He has vowed to pass the Freedom of Choice Act, he has never, ever, supported any limits on abortion for any reason, not even limits on partial-birth abortion. He repeatedly resisted passing of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act in Illinois and has not been honest about that in his campaign. He will undoubtedly appoint federal judges and Supreme Court Justices who believe in a “living constitution” and will set the pro-life movement back by a whole generation.
Read some of the other articles at the Public Discourse site as well about the unequal abortions of black babies, and the effect of pro-life laws. I think those who believe Obama’s social policies will reduce abortions are living in a dream world and not dealing with reality – at least not dealing with his record.



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Bob B.

posted November 3, 2008 at 8:07 am


I am an older, pro-life Christian. May God have mercy on us, individually and as a nation.



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MatthewS

posted November 3, 2008 at 8:14 am


The abortion issue was a deal-breaker for me as well. Despite stated good intentions, Obama is in fact hard-line pro-choice. At the Democratic convention, one of the speakers assured that no American is invisible to their platform. My immediate reaction was to think of the one group that is invisible to Obama’s platform – unborn human beings. Obama can say he wants to reduce abortions, but if his actual efforts are spent assigning tax dollars to abortion and to opposing any legislation against it (i.e., the born-alive bill), then he isn’t working to reduce it. My belief is that his opposition to abortion is lip-service and that his efforts will in fact support legal and more abortions.
If he is elected and does help reduce abortion, then I will happily admit I judged him wrongly.



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m slater

posted November 3, 2008 at 8:21 am


I would have to second Tony Hunt.
I’m very pro-life and have traditionally voted Republican. In this election however I’m still undecided (despite spending an inordinate amount of time researching and following the election), and I lean slightly to Obama.
The reason for this is because I think to be faithful to the message of the Scriptures our idea of ‘pro-life’ needs to be richer and deeper than simply anti-abortion. I think abortion is awful, but I think being truly pro-life ought to mean caring for the unborn as well as the poor, the disadvantaged, the elderly, the homeless, people in other nations, and being against war as a major destroyer of life.
On abortion the Republicans say they are much closer to my values, but in the end have done little to make a difference there. On other social justice issues it seems the Democrats are much closer to the values I see in the Bible, like caring for the poor and the ‘alien among you’.
Maybe, as in the Netherlands example, it could be more effective to help deal with the root causes of many abortions rather than the legislative side of it?
I just hope we can all make an informed and prayerful decision about this difficult issue.
Peace.



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Richard Jones

posted November 3, 2008 at 8:29 am


I am against abortion. I am pro-choice. I think it is unreasonable to believe that whoever is elected president is going to change the abortion landscape in America. That said, I still find it very interesting that most (all?) of the people commenting here are still holding to the Republican=Christian position. From what are we emerging? Obviously not from outdated political views.



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Diane

posted November 3, 2008 at 8:48 am


I’m in a minority position but I do believe Roe v. Wade will be overturned and sooner rather than later, and on that issue I don’t think it matters whether a Rep. or Dem. gets elected. I simply wouldn’t base my vote on that issue. In the same vein, although I am opposed to war, I will vote for one of the two major party candidates rather than a third-party candidate, even though both major candidates believe in a strong and potentially aggressive military.



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Dan

posted November 3, 2008 at 8:52 am


Richard. I really resent the Republican=Christian comment. I believe no such thing. I used to register as an independent in hopes that there would be balance in both parties. I eventually stopped doing that because the Democratic Party platform was so far from what I could support and seemed to go further left every year.
I also resent the implication the term “completely pro-life”. Is the implication of that somehow that pro-life people don’t care about the poor or the living? I see a great deal of evidence to the contrary. Pro-lifers have been staffing crisis pregnancy clinics for decades providing aid to unwed mother to enable them to keep their unborn children. But it begs the question of why it is ever permissible in our society to kill a child in the womb, or in the case of Obama, allow a living aborted child to die in a linen closet.
I think character is the issue here. Why should we trust a man who has little record of legislative accomplishment save for his repeated opposition to protecting infants born alive, to be such a compassionate champion of the poor and downtrodden when he has been so callous regarding infants born alive?
And I don’t agree that Roe v Wade would never be overturned. If Obama somehow is not elected and judges who read the constitution as written are appointed, I think a review of Roe is not only possible but likely. If Obama is elected, however, I think with the aid of Christians who voted for him, abortion will be a fact of life for the remainder of my lifetime. It makes me very sad to think Christians who vote for Obama will have turned the tide, probably irreversibly, toware the culture of death.



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Chaplain Mike

posted November 3, 2008 at 9:00 am


I just engaged in an email discussion with my sister about this issue. Here is where I stand now:
1. The culture war approach has not worked. We have not made much progress against abortion merely by protesting it and waiting for legislative or judicial action over the past 35 years. It may make us feel good to take a “righteous stand,” but what are we doing that is actually reducing the number of abortions, and helping both the unborn and pregnant women?
2. Bottom-up rather than top-down. I’m not sure that one presidential candidate or the other will really make much of a difference with regard to this issue. I tend to think that effective solutions to this sort of problem belong at the grassroots level. If individual Christians and churches everywhere were actually involved in their neighborhoods and communities ministering to women in need as a habit of life, we’d make much more of an impact. Big political decisions often get the most press, but I believe the real power lies in ordinary people doing the right thing and changing the world from the ground up.
3. Action trumps ideology. Obama says he stands for abortion reduction and there are Christians who find his approach credible (see the Matthew 25 website, for example). I believe we should support those who will actually do more to make our country better, not who simply promote a particular ideology. I can’t say for sure that Obama is the person to lead the way, but we should at least listen to his position.



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Brian McLaughlin

posted November 3, 2008 at 9:13 am


The original letter has an assumption that I’d like to (civilly) challenge: it is representative of many younger evangelicals who want to help the poor and view Obama/Democrats as the only ones to help. I believe this is incorrect.
I believe that both Dems and Repubs seek to help the poor, they merely have differing philosophies on how to do so. The typical Dem platform is certainly more direct (= give money to the poor). But in the years since the New Deal, the Great Society and all the poor programs instituted, has the percentage of poor in America decreased? A similar analogy is made with education: we pay more for education than anyone in the world, yet we remain low in comparison. It is important to understand that giving money to the problem often doesn’t solve it.
The Repub philosophy is to create an environment where jobs can be created and poor people hired to work their way out of poverty. Perhaps the last 8 years haven’t looked so good, but how long has New Deal/Great Society been around?
I guess my main point is that voting abortion vs. voting poverty is a false dichotomy. In both cases you are voting for a differing philosophy to the same problems.



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Dan Brennan

posted November 3, 2008 at 10:03 am


That is a huge hurdle to vote for Obama in light of his position on abortion–especially if the abortion issue has played such a signficant role for in previous voting. Pro-life was a major reason (not the only reason but it was very big) I have voted Republican the past twentysomething years.
A major thing with the pro-life argument has to do with “principle” and the beginning of life. It seems that if all the weight of what is vulnerable and helpless in the world is put into the argument that if you don’t start with pro-life. There is assumption that if you don’t vote a candidate who supports this–than you are not starting out with a principled view of life but one of pragmatism. This almost comes close to the logic in some inerrancy arguments (if you don’t start here–all else is up for grabs). I’m no longer perusaded by this reasoning. Pro-life is not just about a starting point for life or an agrument.
For me, I am making a pro-life statement tomorrow in voting for Obama because of his position with the war versus McCain. The pro-life position is much bigger and deeper than mere starting points, in conception or arguments about the beginning.



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dopderbeck

posted November 3, 2008 at 10:15 am


I agree, this is a tough one. I think Chaplain Mike’s comments (I was going to say what number comment it was, but Beliefnet doesn’t include that feature) are right on. The next president will likely get to appoint at least one or two new Supreme Court justices, and that could have a big impact on abortion law and policy. But, even if McCain is elected, and even if he appoints “conservative” judges, the outcome isn’t guaranteed — Breyer and O’Connor were supposed to be “conservative,” and neither will vote to overturn Roe. And even if Roe is overturned, the most likely result is that the issue will become to some limited extent a matter of state law, and many states will not outlaw abortion. That said, it seems highly likely that Obama would appoint Justices who won’t ever open the door to any restrictions on abortion. It seems to me we’re caught between Scylla and Charybdis — one candidate who seems to be pro-big-business and pro-war, and another who seems to be pro-abortion.
BTW — I hereby reject the “beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct, and privacy policy (the ‘agreements’),” and my submission of these comments should not be deemed consent thereto or acceptance of the terms of any contract between myself and Beliefnet or any other entity. Stick that in your legal department’s pipe and smoke it, Beliefnet!



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Rusty

posted November 3, 2008 at 10:22 am


I am a libertarian just to let you know my bias as I write this.
The supreme court has nine justices. Seven of the nine were appointed by pro-life presidents. Two were appointed by Clinton. So the question is why has Roe vs Wade not already been over turned? How many justices need to be appointed by pro-life presidents before we can get a majority to over turn it? McCain has promised that pro-life will not be a litmus test for judges. So is voting for McCain going to give us pro-life judges.
I do believe that McCain will give us justices that will be strict interpreters of the constitution while Obama will appoint justices that see the constitution as a living document that needs re-interpreting for today and thereby legislate from the bench. Bob Barr would appoint justices that are strict constitutionalist and federalist and would allow state to make these disicions.



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ChrisB

posted November 3, 2008 at 10:33 am


I think abortion should be a deal-killer for Christians. Unborn children are the most helpless of all the helpless, and the most innocent of all the innocent. If we turn out backs on them, who will help them?
But you don’t have to put the unborn vs the poor. Quite simply, liberal policies toward the poor have done little to help them. Trillions in Great Society spending never changed the poverty rate, but growing the economy via supply-side tax policies has been proven to lift people out of poverty.
Despite liberal complaints to the contrary, conservatives have had meaningful pro-life victories that will all be destroyed by an Obama administration. Liberal talk about reducing abortion via welfare is just that — talk. One, it doesn’t work, and two, they have no interest in such a feat, which is why they took the bit about making abortion “rare” out of their party platform.
Mr. Obama makes a good speech, but an Obama presidency would mean millions more abortions and a plummeting economy (good for neither the poor nor anyone else).
As much as you may fear the alternative, a Pres. McCain would not be able to get into most of the trouble liberals fear because a Democratic Congress wouldn’t let him do much. Gridlock generally keeps us out of trouble.



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Ron

posted November 3, 2008 at 10:58 am


To the point that Rusty made (clear pro-life majority on the SC, and Roe v. Wade still stands) can be added observation that during the history of the Republican/Evangelical control of the Congress and White house for six of the last eight years and all we got was huffing and puffing about abortion and the embarrassing Terri Schiavo fiasco (at least it should have been embarrassing).
These facts lead me for one to believe that “pro-life” being a deal killer for the election represents a distortion of both politics and (much worse) religion. One imagines that one’s theological positions (life begins at conception or whatever) will be enacted or supported by legal means more effectively than by leavening the culture through changing lives.
Us it sensible to imagine that the movers and shakers of the “Christian” party really want such motivating issues to disappear through resolution? “Single issue” voting distorts our politics and makes our country vulnerable to forces that would destroy it through other means.



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Steve

posted November 3, 2008 at 10:59 am


Rusty: (Re: 7 of 9 “pro-life” appointees on the Supreme Court) Exactly! There’s something else going on.



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FJT

posted November 3, 2008 at 11:03 am


I have been thinking about this issue a lot too because caring for the defensless unborn is a matter of justice and i believe it is wrong to abort one’s children. However, i have often wondered at the reasons why children are aborted and the social structures that might contribute to abortion. One could glibly state that these reasons are selfishness and some are…and i think that there are multiple factors and reasons that are very complex. But i think there are systems of disempowerment that might also be a factor in choosing abortion. I have not read anything on this nor do i have any stats… but i wonder if addressing some of our systems of disempowerment we might also reduce the instances of abortion.
Abortion seems to me like the last choice one would want to make in a given set of circumstances. And I can understand a woman’s struggle to examine her options and light of those circumstances. Sometimes her circumstances are the result of oppression.
It is a seemingly easier fix to outlaw abortion than to deal with all of the disempowering structures and factors around unplanned pregnancy. I think it is an issue set within broader issues and without examinging them as well we become short-sighted.
I think there is a prolife way of voting Obama… if that administration would also examine structures of disempowerment.



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Karl

posted November 3, 2008 at 11:20 am


This letter writer echoes my sentiments. I find much about Obama attractive but the abortion issue stops me. And it’s not just about the appointment of Supreme Court justices and Federal judges, though I do believe those are important. The Freedom of Choice Act which Obama supports, goes a long way beyond being neutral on the issue of abortion. From his record and public statements Obama seems to be the most strongly pro-choice candidate we’ve seen from either of the 2 major parties, in terms of desiring to eliminate as many state-imposed restrictions on abortion-on-demand as possible through Federal legislation and judicial interpretation. I have a hard time getting beyond that.



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B. Stanley

posted November 3, 2008 at 11:23 am


For those of you who believe that Obama is more “pro-life” because he is anti-war will be sorely disappointed if he gets elected president. I believe he wants to push troops from Iraq to Afghanistan. Not end the war, just move it.



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KS

posted November 3, 2008 at 11:41 am


Here’s a thought: What don’t we *expand* Roe v. Wade to cover not only abortions, and born-alive botched abortions, but all kids up to two or three years old? Hey, Obama, is going to create an environment where it wouldn’t be *necessary* to snuff out a two year old, right? And we don’t want to *impose* our “religious” views on our religiously free/pluralist society, right? Given some of the stories in the news, there certainly are people out there whose belief systems allow it.
Now I know there are a lot of folks out there who would be aghast at that idea, but they’re religious fanatics. Worse still, they’re hypocrites who are unwilling to adopt unwanted kids under two.



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Brian

posted November 3, 2008 at 11:59 am


I am troubled by the comments from those who would choose Obama because he will help the poor. WE need to help the poor. It doesn’t matter who is president. Choose the candidate you think can make it easier for you to help the poor.



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BeckyR

posted November 3, 2008 at 12:09 pm


I strongly resist the thought that seems to be in some christian circles, assumed really, that if you are christian you will vote republican-anti abortion. Like that is the deal maker and that’s the only christian way to go. I have a mentally ill brother and I have been exposed to the homeless and the poorer than poor because of disabilities. Because of the impact my brother has on me, I am voting for Obama because I think there will be more for the poor and why they’re poor. I cringe in voting for Obama, I wish he was pro-life, but there’s more to christian values in the candidates than just abortion. Hubby and I are probably the only ones in our small church that will be voting republican. For senator I voted democrat because I despised the smear ads the republican put out. He made me lose a vote for him.



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Your Name

posted November 3, 2008 at 12:11 pm


only ones in our small church voting democrat i mean



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Luke

posted November 3, 2008 at 12:13 pm


I’m tired of the anti-Obama rhetoric, as if he rejoices at women getting abortions. Nobody believes this, and Obama wants to see them decrease drastically. I don’t like his record on abortion, nor his beliefs about a woman’s right to choose. But I’m tired of the Republicans giving lip-service to it and not doing anything. We have had 20 years worth of pro-life presidents since 1973, and none of them have hardly made a dent in the issue. It’s a joke. I can vote for a man who pays lip-service to the abortion issue and might (key word, we don’t even know if he will) appoint a conservative justice or two but I disagree with him on just about every other issue, or I can vote for a man whom I disagree with about his abortion beliefs (stop talking like it’s all he cares about, like it’s his main objective to increase abortions), but I agree with him on most other things. I have chosen the latter this time, but I could see how someone could choose the former. I just feel used by the Republican party and think it’s an absolute joke.



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AprilK

posted November 3, 2008 at 1:18 pm


I agree with a lot of the other comments about why people are voting for Obama despite his pro-choice stance. BeckyR said something that resonates with my story in a lot of ways:
“I strongly resist the thought that seems to be in some christian circles, assumed really, that if you are christian you will vote republican-anti abortion. Like that is the deal maker and that’s the only christian way to go. I have a mentally ill brother and I have been exposed to the homeless and the poorer than poor because of disabilities. Because of the impact my brother has on me, I am voting for Obama because I think there will be more for the poor and why they’re poor. I cringe in voting for Obama, I wish he was pro-life, but there’s more to christian values in the candidates than just abortion.”
My sister also suffers from a mental illness. Her experiences have led me in large part to vote for Obama. I hope the changes he’s able to bring will help her, your brother, and people like them. I also am unsure what to make of the people who question my faith or the faith of others who vote for Obama. A local pastor came out in our newspaper a couple weeks ago in “tepid” support of Obama. He was dragged across the coals, has said he will not vote in the election, and even tendered his resignation. I find it all to be troubling and hurtful personally as well as to the entire Church.



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Carlos Malave

posted November 3, 2008 at 1:43 pm


Because I’m consistently in favor of life my decision for whom to vote was not difficult. When we look around us and around the world, we must admit that we are heading in the wrong direction. Yes, the unborn is precious and holy. But both government and the church must do what they are each called to do. The government is responsible to provide quality education to all children, specially the financially disadvantage, to provide health services and coverage to all. The church is called to witness the love of Christ, especially in to the young. The government cannot legislate morality; morality will be a byproduct of a correct understanding of our relationship to God and to our neighbor. We are living in a crossroads in the history of humankind. The election of our president will not necessarily change which path the world takes, but it has the potential to do so. The way we have been leaded for the last eight years has taken us in the wrong direction. Together we must move forward in hope towards a different future.



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Nicholas K.

posted November 3, 2008 at 2:51 pm


The tension reflected in this letter and the above comments hits home for me personally. I find good arguments on both sides and have failed (despite much wrestling) to arrive at a place of clarity and peace about this issue. I have come to realize that neither party platform reflects a consistent concern for human life. The republican pro-life stance focuses entirely on the reversal of Roe vs. Wade which, though certainly a move in the right direction, cannot deal with the root issues of abortion. Legislating the good does not transform the broken hearts of men. Moreover, the Republican definition of pro-life as anti-abortion is certainly too narrow and should in fact be broadened to include a host of other issues such as immigration, healthcare, war, and the socially marginalized. Much of the democratic platform does well at a holistic appreciation of life (immigration, healthcare, the poor). However, democratic party in general does not see abortion as violation of human life and has fallen prey to the sort of extreme American individualism which believes that our bodies are our own to do with as we please. So I’m stuck with a choice between two broken systems; neither of which consistently exhibits a concern for the preservation of human life. Now one system may indeed be less broken than another, but I’ll leave that discussion alone. What I will suggest is that the tension we feel about this issue may in fact be due to the tension of living in the now and not yet. Should we be surprised that our political systems do not deal adequately with the problem of human brokenness? I think this tension does well at reminding us where our true citizenship lies and reflects our desperate need for Jesus as Lord who will bring true restoration and healing.



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preacherma

posted November 3, 2008 at 2:56 pm


It amazes me how many times republicans have been in power and the abortion law has never changed. I think the republicans make this an issue for Christians to vote for them yet they never do anything to change the laws. It is sad.



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SamB

posted November 3, 2008 at 3:27 pm


This morning I received passionate e-mails from members of my church calling us to pray for God’s will and for Obama’s defeat. I reluctantly responded that I would pray for God’s will but that I couldn’t pray against Obama because I was voting, according to my conscience, for him. I respect greatly the conclusion they came to in deciding to vote as one issue voters and their call for prayer. I asked them to allow that my vote is according to my conscience and respect that. I am very grateful that many have responded with love and are determined to preserve the unity we have in Christ. There has not been one negative response yet. Also at a recent gathering of Evangelical men committed to praying for the nation, the invitation stressed that the prayers would not be for one particular person/party or another. The prayers would be for God’s will. This is the first time that I am aware of that these invitations have been framed accordingly.This group of men have worked hard to bring to the table men from all the ethnic groups in our area. I believe there was a recognition that many of our Christian brothers from minority ethnic groups do support Obama. This makes me very happy. I do disagree with Obama’s position on abortion, and I pray that God will turn his heart. As others have stated, this is not the only issue with pro-life implications.



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Nancy

posted November 3, 2008 at 4:02 pm


“This morning I received passionate e-mails from members of my church calling us to pray for God’s will and for Obama’s defeat.”
I have received many similar email forwards over the past several weeks and am amazed at how people dare presume to equate God’s will with Obama’s defeat. Ugh.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 3, 2008 at 4:17 pm


We’ve just had a bout with accusatory and counter-accusatory remarks. We’ve had to delete them as uncivil discourse and we will insist on retaining civility, even when folks disagree with one another.
We also don’t permit “Anonymous” comments.



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Phil

posted November 3, 2008 at 4:34 pm


It’s funny how people seem to think that poverty, health care, and education seem to be at the root of the abortion crisis. Last time I checked, having sex when you aren’t ready for the responsibility of parenting a child is at the root of the crisis…
Abortion for convenience, abortion on demand, abortion for minors without parental consent, and abortion as birth control are practices that must be eliminated. As long as we make abortion ‘a way out’ there will be minimizing of the crisis.



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Ben Wiele

posted November 3, 2008 at 5:11 pm


The question beneath all of this is “Would God be outside the abortion clinics yelling at those going in, or inside, loving those who are making the hardest decision they have ever faced”.
Making abortion illegal will not stop abortions. The power of the blood that flowed from the cross will stop abortions.



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Jim Lahey

posted November 3, 2008 at 5:40 pm


I also disagree with Obama on abortion and with both Obama and McCain on stem cell research. If McCain hadn’t pandered to the extreme conservative wing of his party I probably would have supported him. But he did and I now I don’t trust him. Sense the Republican party has convinced me, over the last eight years, that they only give the pro-life and marriage cause lip service I don’t trust them. I doubt that the Dem’s will truly help the working poor and middle class but I know the Republicans will not. So I am willing to give the Dem’s a chance for a couple of years. One thing I want Christians to do is stop talking and start doing it ourselves in changing the world and our country. We should not depend on the political process. We need to spend more on the working poor and those without work and less on ourselves.



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Paul Dubuc

posted November 3, 2008 at 5:52 pm


“I’m concerned for the poor and outcast in our society because I know God cares deeply for them. And because I have gleaned that Dem’s are traditionally known to be more intentionally for those who would fall into that category, I am tempted to vote Obama.”
What you’ve gleaned could be quite mistaken. Read Qho Really Cares, by Arthur Brooks and see what I mean.



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Paul Dubuc

posted November 3, 2008 at 7:58 pm


If I may, I’d like to repeat here something I said in response to another article on this blog:
The legal status of abortion on demand is a problem because by it abortion is promoted as a solution to unwanted pregnancy. Unfortunately abortion is a choice that undermines all others because it “eliminates” (kills) the problem at its “source” (unwanted fetal humans). If we were to legalize and accept euthanasia for the poor, where would be the incentive to alleviate poverty? If human lives are only worth protecting if someone “wants” them, we are in serious moral decay. Not long ago I saw a teenage mother on the TV news being sentenced to 10 years in prison for shaking and severely injuring her 7 week old daughter. Why such a severe punishment when a few months earlier she could have aborted the girl with no questions asked? The question of where we draw the line here is a serious one because it is a line between life and death. While legal means are not the whole answer, or even the primary one–we must primarily provide support for life choices–the legality of killing the unborn severely undermines other choices. It also undermines child support (if the abortion decision is completely up to the woman, the pregnancy is completely her responsibility), parental involvement (because minor daughters don’t require parental knowledge or consent to get an abortion), and protection from sexual abuse (because abortion is the easiest way to hide one the most obvious unwanted consequences of such problems). The list goes on… abortion accommodates and creates more serious problems than it solves. More and more women are starting to realize this. Read The Cost of Choice: Women Evaluate the Impact of Abortion (edited by Erika Bachiochi) for a sampling.



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Margaret

posted November 3, 2008 at 9:21 pm


First – I apologize for writing an anonymous comment earlier. I have to be careful what I say online due to the nature of my work.
I am a pro-life evangelical who submits her life to the authority of the scriptures. And I am whole-heartedly voting for Obama tomorrow, and for a republican congressman.
McCain does not have a plan to combat abortion. He does not have an agenda, even a strategy. He has given good answers that please the pro-life constituency, but he has not made any commitments as to what his administration would actually do to combat abortion.
Obama has a clear agenda and strategy to decrease abortions (reduce abortions by 95% in 10 years – the 95/10 plan). This is only one very small reason I give my support to him, but it is remarkably compelling given how crucial it is that we not approach the polls tomorrow driven by a single issue, when there are so many other matters of life and death at stake.



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Travis Greene

posted November 3, 2008 at 9:30 pm


I’m voting (actually, I already voted) for Obama, despite disagreeing with him about abortion, because I believe he is, on balance more pro-life than Senator McCain. Pro-life for me means being anti-abortion, anti-death penalty, anti-euthanasia, anti-war, and anti-poverty. To my libertarian brothers and sisters, I’m not convinced by the “supply-side economics is really good for the poor” argument. I certainly respect anyone who can’t get over the abortion issue, I’d just ask that they begin to think that maybe there should be more than one non-negotiable…



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Scott H.

posted November 3, 2008 at 10:30 pm


Brian Mclaren does a good job of answering the abortion question with Reason 5 on the link I provided.
To me abortion is the plank in our eyes as Christian voters. The abortion issue is one reason George Bush won two terms and think of the damage his presidency has done in terms of lives lost around the world. I am one of those Christians who voted for President Bush both times, mainly due to Christian values. With hindsight I am now so sorry to have done that. Abortion remains the same issue it was 8 years ago and we have killed so many in Iraq and Afghanistan. We’ve also killed untold people with our refusal to curb our appetite for oil and other natural resources leading to increased global warming all to fuel our precious economy which is now also worse off than 8 years ago. In terms of valuing life my Christian values based votes in the past have boomeranged. I no longer consider abortion and gay marriage my only voting obligations.
Obama may be in the party of pro-choice and gay rights but I believe he has a compassion for human life. It’s hard for me to see my Christian President be so anti-abortion and anti-stem cell research and yet think nothing of killing innocent Afghans with a million dollar missile because a high value target was purportedly in the area. That is not valuing life in my opinion.
Please read the Brian Mclaren Reason 5 though and pray for God’s will in this election.



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Rachael Starke

posted November 3, 2008 at 11:19 pm


As a follower of Jesus, I am dismayed at how His church has failed to take all of Jesus’ words about the poor and helpless seriously. Its abandonment of the faithful teaching of all of His words in all of Scripture (not just the red letter ones) are what has led us to this point in history.
But the most distressing thing is how the church’s failings have produced the belief by some of its members that a candidate with the most pro-abortion record, and pro-abortion plan, in the entire legislature, is somehow the best choice for helping the poor.
If you are still not certain about Barack Obama’s intentions for abortion, please read the following:
http://theologica.blogspot.com/2008/10/what-is-freedom-of-choice-act.html
http://randyalcorn.blogspot.com/2008/10/im-not-voting-for-man-im-voting-for.html
And if you won’t read that, read these words from Jesus that Randy references:
If the people of the community close their eyes when that man gives one of his children to Molech…I will set my face against that man and his family and will cut off from their people both him and all who follow him… (Leviticus 20:1-5)
Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land, which the LORD your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed. (Deuteronomy 19:10)
He sent them to destroy Judah…Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD was not willing to forgive. (2 Kings 24:2-4)
There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood… (Proverbs 6:16-19)
Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will give you over to bloodshed and it will pursue you. Since you did not hate bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you. (Ezekiel 35:6)
May God have mercy on anyone that heeds the words of a mortal man over The Immortal Man. These are His words too.



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Ted M. Gossard

posted November 3, 2008 at 11:32 pm


While I’ll actually be rooting for Obama because I believe he’s the best candidate of the two (and that is not against McCain, but for Obama), I struggle actually voting for someone who is pro choice and has advocated it so strenuously and consistently as has Obama. As it is now, I will not vote for McCain, but neither will I vote for Obama.
I wish I understood what would likely happen if Roe is overturned (as it should be, as some pro-choice people agree). Would abortions really decrease? And I think the Democratic 95/10 plan is better than the plan the Republicans don’t seem to have.
Because I believe pro-life extends beyond the unborn, I think I can’t just vote on one issue. I see Obama as clearly more pro-life in my thinking, except for abortion. So maybe this makes me a one issue voter after all, in abstaining (if I do). But the Republicans won’t get my vote. And I’m not sold on conservative judges on a number of issues, in spite of the need, I believe, for Roe to be overturned.
(Our reason and experience are involved in all this. I’m not getting any grief from my wife- quite to the contrary, but I am surrounded by a few, and perhaps for me in Jesus, this abstaining is the best way to go).



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Ted M. Gossard

posted November 3, 2008 at 11:52 pm


Let me add to that that I’m not advocating that anyone else ought to do as I do. Part of what I do is from my paradigm and who I am as a person. In no way can I look at another and size them up as falling short just because they don’t think and act like I do.



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Ben P.

posted November 4, 2008 at 8:59 am


Scot, I hope you answer this question tomorrow before I go vote! It’s a really big issue for me. Especially the Freedom of Choice Act.



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Mike K

posted November 4, 2008 at 1:34 pm


Rachael,
From your response I don’t think you have really listened to what some of the others are saying here….and this is one of the things that I find so frustrating about this particular issue. I am not trying to elevate myself here but I feel like I truly listen to pro-life people and understand (and agree) with much of what they say….however, in general, I don’t find this understanding reciprocated by pro-lifers…who see things only their way and everything else is godless.
Another incongruity I find in this discussion is politicizing the issue when it is convenient…but dismissing the political process when it doesn’t go our way. By this I don’t mean that when our side loses we just give up our fight for what we think is right…but what I do mean is that if we have chosen to use the political process to move forward our agenda and we lose…well then we have to live with that to some degree…after all we are governed by a democracy for a reason. We may not like the outcome some time but the alternative of living under something other than democracy is not pretty….been there, done that…



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Greg

posted November 4, 2008 at 2:34 pm


Mike
People: real actual innocent human beings, (millions of them) are being killed for simple convenience and you want some sort of “we should all agree to disagree” and “just get over it” attitude to prevail? There is no middle ground on a transcendant moral issue like this. Either you are for abortion on demand, or you are against it. People who say they are against it and vote for candidates that say they will actively promote it are actually for it. Why not just say so?



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Rachael Starke

posted November 4, 2008 at 5:07 pm


Mike,
I agree 100% that listening and seeking to understand first are important. But to whom, or to Whom, are we listening and desiring to understand? Ourselves, or the One who saved us from ourselves and calls us His?
Does God say anything in His Word about what He thinks about life?
Does God say anything in His Word about what He thinks about those who presume to set themselves above Him in actively mandating who lives and dies?
Why has no one else here offered up only opinion and personal subjectivity? Jesus Himself relied upon Scripture to constantly refute worldly and demonic thinking. If we are true followers of Jesus, ought we not to consider the same approach?



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Your Name

posted November 4, 2008 at 5:16 pm


Meant to say “everyone else here”. I wish I didn’t have to.



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justathought

posted November 4, 2008 at 5:54 pm


What is interesting to me is how much the abortion issue dominates presidential campaign politics but goes silent during a presidential administration. For example, the GOP has historically used the pro-life issue to keep it’s conservative base close. However, with the past 20 of 28 years under a GOP president/administration, a predominately conservative house/senate (at least up until 2 years ago), and a majority conservative surpreme court, the number of abortions have increased, roe v. wade has yet to be overturned, and the same sex marriage agenda is becoming more of a reality than ever. Thank God that the heart of the King is in God’s hand. Justathought.



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Phil

posted November 4, 2008 at 7:49 pm


Rachael,
I agree, life IS important. Including the lives of some 90,000 Iraqis who have died thanks to a war which both Bush and McCain supported, and a war which Palin described as “God’s mission.” When you describe yourself as pro-life, think about this. Maybe one party isn’t so “pro-life” as the other.



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Mike Mangold

posted November 4, 2008 at 11:33 pm


I think I may take some getting used to this new JC setting.
When my wife approached Sarah Palin in Cedarburg, WI, it was to discuss how killing ANYONE in Irag or Afghanistan was any different than killing an innocent fetus. If all life is sacred because we are all children of God, how can murder on the battlefield be any less justified than murder in the uterus? It really is not a question of who is “Christian” as opposed to the question of who will protect and sanctify more lives.



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Mike Mangold

posted November 4, 2008 at 11:37 pm


Oh, Scot, if you still read these threads: little did I know you are a “popular and witty speaker!”



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Dan

posted November 4, 2008 at 11:48 pm


Greg,

People who say they are against it and vote for candidates that say they will actively promote it are actually for it. Why not just say so?

Respectfully, I disagree with this statement. One can disagree with a candidate’s position on an issue. Casting a vote for a candidate does not equal a blanket endorsement. I suspect that we all really know this; I doubt that any of us 100% endorses either candidate (as evidenced by the mutual disapproval of both candidate’s positions on stem cells).
I think that the issue is how a particular person believes change will be accomplished. In my interactions most people who believe they can vote for a pro-choice candidate as Christians (and yes, they are godly men and women—don’t doubt their faith) think that fundamentally change is accomplished in the heart of individual people, and great evils like abortion will not change from the top-down but from the bottom-up. Likewise, those who view abortion as a “deal-breaker” believe that change happens from the top-down.
So what I am saying is that I think this issue to get back to this post is not necessarily Christian v. anti-Christian voting, but how one believes change happens, and what the role of government is, and how we understand the government to function in legislating morality. Personally, I think in our representative form of government, Roe v. Wade won’t be reversed until the majority believes it should. I realize policy shouldn’t be set by the masses, but it seems that is reality.
I think this issue for many Christians is not just simply “is he pro-life,” but goes much deeper into the role of the law-sphere (Abraham Kuyper and others) in regard to the church and how we fundamentally believe change will take place in our nation and in our lives. A great book on the latter is A Conflict of Visions by Thomas Sowell.
I appreciate everyone’s feedback; I ask that we all remember we are talking about our brothers and sisters in Christ; even if you think their vote is biblically wrong, the call for us as their brothers is to love them as we love ourselves.



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Your Name

posted November 5, 2008 at 4:38 pm


Greg,
Thanks for your response. I think you proved my point re: not really listening…



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Mike

posted November 5, 2008 at 4:47 pm


Rachael,
Thanks for your response. Question is…if abortion is such a moral imperative (as pro-lifers would have us believe) so that all of our efforts should go into ending this above all other injustices…why didn’t Jesus say anything about it? It was certainly going on back then (ref. Hippocratic oath 4 B.C.)
Some may argue that Jesus did not address every moral issue of the time (and that is true) however if this issue is of such great importance that we would choose to vote for the leader of the free world based on that issue alone, then the lack of mention of it in the Bible speaks volumes to me…



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Karen

posted November 6, 2008 at 8:40 am


To quote an earlier post, I think that the issue is how a particular person believes change will be accomplished. In my interactions most people who believe they can vote for a pro-choice candidate as Christians (and yes, they are godly men and women—don’t doubt their faith) think that fundamentally change is accomplished in the heart of individual people, and great evils like abortion will not change from the top-down but from the bottom-up. Likewise, those who view abortion as a “deal-breaker” believe that change happens from the top-down.
What I don’t believe you are seeing here is voting to end abortion doesn’t necessarily mean that a person (I would include myself in this category) doesn’t necessarily believe that change happens from the top down, but that government, as instituted by God is to protect people. If we are not protecting the unborn, we are not protecting people. Also, when Israel moved into the promised land, they were told not to adopt the ways of the previous (and current to them) occupants. One of the examples given was not sacrificing their children to pagan gods. How is this different from sacrificing our children on the alter of self and aborting them.
Also, more to the point of change happening from the top down, when we outlaw abortion, we are not only protecting the babies, but we are protecting women who after an abortion may come to know the Lord and would so completely lament what they have done. This is still believing that change happens in the hearts of people which will in turn change the people who we elect to office. You can’t throw caution to the wind and say, “well because change happens from the bottom up, we don’t have to elect people who will promote the right kind of change.” That is faulty reasoning.



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Brad

posted November 9, 2008 at 10:55 pm


Sorry to be so late to the conversation – would like some feedback from the group though. In the days of the election (which clearly have passed now) I see two topics of great interest for myself (a conservative/libertarian style Christian). The first is addressing the needs of the poor in our society – which is somewhat unrelated to this blog entry. The second is the issue of abortion.
I have heard on a number of fronts pro-lifers arguing that the Obama policy is better because it seeks to reduce the number abortions performed. While this may indeed hold true (and yes, I doubt the Republican party really wants to overturn Roe v. Wade since it’s such an effective issue) – it seems a bit off in terms of its logic. If we hold that the pre-born are human lives just as the post-born, then reducing the number of abortions while keeping them “safe and legal” is no different than reducing the number of rapes or murders while keeping them “safe and legal” for the assailant. This doesn’t seem to pass the smell test. The laws are here to protect the rights of the citizens and maintain order. We cannot hold that hold that reducing crime alleviates our need to defend the victims.
Thoughts?
P.S. – my first post. Hope it wasn’t too over-the-top. Thanks.



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Mark Baker-Wright

posted November 13, 2008 at 5:54 pm


Obviously, I’m pretty late to this, too. It took me a while to realize that the switch-over had actually happened. Anyway, here’s a response I wrote to a similar question about a week ago:
I can’t speak for all who, despite his “pro-choice” stance, supported Obama. But for me, I come at this issue thinking several things:
1) As a pro-lifer myself, I want to do whatever I can to ensure that fewer abortions happen.
2) Having a pro-life president has done little to affect the abortion rate. In fact, the abortion rate has been in decline under BOTH pro-life and pro-choice presidents for the past two decades. (There is actually some evidence that the rate of decline may be stalling, but I don’t blame that on the current administration. It may well be nothing more than the mathematical certainty that a rate simply cannot continue declining forever.)
3) Efforts over the past THREE decades to stop abortions by making them illegal haven’t gotten as far as might be desired.
4) There remains the powerful argument (at least to me) that many who would seek abortions, but cannot do so legally, will STILL do so, and might cause themselves harm that they might have avoided if a legal option was available.
5) All but two Supreme Court justices have been appointed by Republican presidents (I THINK all were pro-life, but I confess I don’t know Ford’s stance for certain).
#2 and #5 are especially telling for me, when it comes to whether or not I can support a pro-choice presidential candidate, because these really get to how much power (or lack thereof) a president has to influence how many abortions actually take place. It seems to me that there would be little difference one way or the other.
Having established that, I feel not only FREE to look at other issues, but feel that I MUST do so, in order to make a wise and informed choice for the good of the country.



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