As you know, Politico recently reported a leaked initial draft of the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Although I am reticent to provide any substantive commentary until the decision is made public by the Court, I am filled with gratitude and hopeful prayer that what was written by Alito will remain the majority opinion.
In this article, I want to briefly address two common arguments concerning people of faith and their involvement in the political process.
1. PERSONAL MORALITY BASED ON FAITH/RELIGION SHOULD NOT BE A PART OF POLITICS/VOTING
I am stunned to see this position continued to be circulated by political progressives. Most recently Kirsten Powers, a very smart political analyst for CNN, wrote this on Twitter:
“If you think abortion is wrong, don’t get an abortion. It’s not ok to impose your religious view on others. Why should a Jew or Muslim, for eg, have to live acc to your interpretation of the Bible? If you don’t get this, please don’t ever use the phrase “religious freedom” again.” source- twitter.
If Ronald Reagan remains the poster boy for the Republican Party, then Barack Obama is currently the poster boy for the Democratic Party. But unfortunately, the left have not learned from the important adjustments on matters of faith that Obama experienced in the years leading up to his Presidency. His speech at the 2006 “Sojourners/Call to Renewal” conference is one that I revisit quite often. Obviously, Obama is no friend to conservative causes, which is why I’m so surprised that more on the left have not learned from his insight. This speech contains problematic portions related to common, faulty biblical interpretation, but the main point is a good point…
In 2004, Obama ran against Alan Keyes in the US Senate General Election. During that campaign, Keyes said that “Christ would not vote for Barack Obama because Barack Obama has behaved in a way that it is inconceivable for Christ to have behaved.” Well, first of all, I abhor the use of the name of Christ in this manner to gain an advantage in a political campaign. So, I do not defend Keyes statement. But, the statement bothered Obama, and at the time, he replied with what he later called the “typical liberal response.” He said, “…we live in a pluralistic society, that I can’t impose my own religious views on another, that I was running to be the U.S. Senator of Illinois and not the Minister of Illinois.”
Obama would soon reject the heart of that sentiment. During his aforementioned 2006 speech, he learned from his mistake and said:
“Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. Frederick Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, Williams Jennings Bryant, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King – indeed, the majority of great reformers in American history — were not only motivated by faith, but repeatedly used religious language to argue for their cause. So to say that men and women should not inject their “personal morality” into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Moreover, if we progressives shed some of these biases, we might recognize some overlapping values that both religious and secular people share when it comes to the moral and material direction of our country.” source – sojo
Obviously, Obama and I are on opposite sides of almost every issue, and I do not cite him here as an endorsement of his political positions. On the contrary, I quote him to highlight how surprising it is that the progressive left still have not learned of the important role of faith in the political process. That portion of his speech is a helpful paragraph for navigating these kinds of issues. Abortion would certainly qualify as an “overlapping value” since most all of us agree that the taking of innocent life is wrong. Conservatives and progressives might disagree on whether a fetus is a person and if a woman’s right to control her body outweighs the baby’s right to life, but to suggest conservative people of faith are violating a church/state separation because we believe pregnancies should not be aborted is…well…a practical absurdity.
2. Christians are only Pro-Life As It Relates to Abortion.
To use a popular contemporary phrase – tell me you don’t know many Christians without telling me you don’t know many Christians. I pastor a mid-size (and growing!) Southern Baptist church in central Kentucky. We average between 250-300 folks on a Sunday morning. And in that relatively small group of people, we have parents who have adopted (and are seeking to adopt) multiple orphaned babies, we have parents who provide regular, consistent foster care services, we have a ministry team devoted to helping families foster and adopt – helping with both legal issues and with financial issues. We hold training events to learn how to best care for and love abandoned children. We provide a variety of free services throughout the year- from handing away hundreds of bags of school supplies to giving free haircuts to offering Christmas gifts to hurting families. Our church regularly volunteers and financially supports our local Crisis Pregnancy Center, helping young moms and dads with the fear and stress of raising a new baby. We have supported food kitchens, clothes closets, and even as I type this, our church has collected bag after bag of shoes to provide to both adults and children who are in need. We have traveled across the Commonwealth to take clothes, sort clothes, and give away clothes to parents with small children.
The list goes on. We have provided legal services to families who are hurting or confused or need assistance. We spend hours with single-parent families who are wondering how they will get through another day of raising children on their own. We provide a well-funded benevolence ministry that keeps families’ electricity on, keeps gas in their vehicles, and keeps food on their tables. We sit in hospitals with parents and children who have contemplated taking their own lives. We also celebrate the small victories of parenthood when things go well. In short, we are a group of Christians who are here for children and families from the beginning to the end.
And that is just my small little church.
Pastor and author J.D. Greear once said, “Since 1973, for every 1 abortion clinic in America Christians have built 3 pregnancy centers to assist women in crisis. They are buying groceries and helping young mothers get housing and whatever else they need. Go into foster services and adoption agencies and there you will find the group represented most are pro-life Christians and their friends. Christians have built more hospitals around the world than any other single group–for a long time in sub-Saharan African there was not a single hospital that hadn’t been built by a Christian mission. So don’t believe the tired trope that followers of Jesus only care about the pre-born. It’s just not true…” source – jdgreear
So, two absurdities to reject: 1) Christian faith (or any faith) disqualifies Americans from participating in the political process. 2) Pro-life Christians only care about the pre-born.