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Progressive Revival

Rev. Donna Schaper is the Senior Pastor at the Judson Memorial Church in New York City.    

William James in his
marvelous book, THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE, speaks of the transition
from Catholicism to Protestantism as the transition of the brocaded, artistic,
colorful Baroque to one man in a black suit carrying a black book which he
places on a plain table in an unornamented meeting house.  His observations are on target.   There is nothing perfect about
Protestantism.  Still it has a few
values that might make a non-violent approach possible for those of us who
spiritually and theologically value the right to choose an abortion.  With Hillary Clinton, many of us think
abortion should be safe, legal and rare. 
We also think it is a constitutionally guaranteed right.  We also have respect for the constitutional
promotion of a brocaded right to the separation of church and state.

When Roman Catholics
take up a separate offering to remove abortion from federal funding and send
their people home with an experience of the body of Christ – and a postcard to
send to their congressional representatives – they violate both the body of
Christ and the constitution.  These
are not small matters.  Some of us
are tempted to do more than growl: our stomachs churn at the deeper issue of
one theology dominating another, illegally.  Some of us find ourselves filling up with a kind of hate at
injustice, abuse of the constitution, power gone amok.  Some women are wearing T-shirts saying
that we are feminists formerly for Obama. 
Not me: I see what he is up against. We surely understand the President’s
dilemma and praise our baroque friends for their protection of immigrants,
gays, even women to a point in the new and overall positive health care
bill.  We sense ourselves eating different
bread but not being part of a different body.

The reason hate is so
tempting is that we are in fact so close to our Roman Catholic brothers and
sisters.  In the name of all that
is good about Jesus and his international body, I spend a good bit of time
praying for the hate and anger to subside.  I also pray for the right lawsuit to stop my sisters and
brothers from abusing the constitution by handing out post cards and taking up
special offerings.   Protestants may be plain but we frown on
this sort of imperial moral legislating. 
We actually believe in the separation of Church and State and hope no (consenting
and believing) Catholic will ever have an abortion.

It is not hateful to
call to account. Nor is it hateful to enjoy the right to be different.  While frowning on the temptation to
hate a group of unmarried men, namely the bishops, who don’t even represent
their people, who believe more than not in the right to choose an abortion
being protected by the federal government, we who are hurt and we who will be
hurt by the lack of funding for abortions have a right to call for strong
countervailing action.  A good
lawsuit against the postcards would go a long way towards resolving this dilemma.  Then we might go back to living on a fair
and even playing field when it comes to politics, theocracies and women’s
rights.

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