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Can Hypocrisy Hurt the Pro-Life Cause?

Friday, June 5th, 2009

george_tiller_croppedIt may be a little late for a post on the slaying of Dr. George Tiller, seeing as how thousands of blogs have posted their observations, but I have a few things on my mind that I want to get out there, particularly with respect to the way the media has handled the murder.

An inexcusable, horrific act was committed when Dr. Tiller was gunned down in at the Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita last Sunday. Despite the differences one may have with the victim, every person who respects life condemns this criminal act.  Murder at any stage of life is wrong.

With that said, I want to turn to the way Tiller has been depicted by the media in the aftermath of his murder.

In a memorial service held in Dr. Tiller’s honor, Katherine Ragsdale, president of Harvard’s Episcopal Divinity School, called him “a man who was a saint and a martyr.”  She said, “He was a prayerful man who put his life at risk to protect others and died for it.”  This is the same woman, by the way, who gave a speech here in Birmingham in 2007 calling abortion a “blessing.”

Colleen Raezler has done a superb job of assembling a number of statements that paint Tiller as a martyr who died for a virtuous cause.  One example she cites gives a fair representation of how the news organizations are reporting on the controversial doctor’s life:

On ABC’s “Good Morning America,” host Diane Sawyer gave Lee Thompson, another Tiller lawyer, the same opportunity to portray him as a misunderstood servant of women. She asked, “Given the controversy and given the danger, why was he committed to doing this? What was it exactly that he wanted to make sure that he was accomplishing?” Thompson replied, “The fact that he is one of, if not the only one of too very few doctors who perform these services speaks to his dedication and his courage throughout his life.”

These comments and others like them are a transparent attempt to stifle the opposition to abortion in this country.  According to the latest numbers, that opposition appears to be taking an effect, as for the first time a majority of Americans identify themselves as “pro-life.”  Liberal proponents of abortion, however, hope they can manipulate Tiller’s murder into an effective tool to use against the pro-life camp.  If they can blame everyone who opposes abortion for the isolated act of a madman, they might be able to turn the tide back towards their agenda.

The charge of hypocrisy works in the opinion polls, it is true, but it is meaningless.  Just because one pro-lifer was a hypocrite, that doesn’t mean his message was wrong.  All the charge of hypocrisy does is cue others in on the fact that one particular person doesn’t really practice what he preaches.

The facts are that Dr. Tiller’s life’s work is an embarrassment to pro-choice advocates who claim that the abortion debate is about women’s rights.  Tiller became a multi-millionaire by killing 60,000 unborn children in his clinic.  He was one of only three doctors in the country who would perform partial-birth abortion, a practice so gruesome that most Americans object to it.

It is hard not to be intimidated by media organizations and influential spokesmen who try to discredit the pro-life movement through subterfuge and deceit.  But clarity is restored to the abortion debate every time the facts are examined.  Don’t forget the facts.  They are, as John Adams said, “stubborn things.”

What Is More Important to Obama than the Economy?

Monday, January 26th, 2009

ObamaAbortion, it seems.

In a move signaling more to come in the Obama presidency, the President signed legislation lifting a ban dating back to the Reagan era on federal funding of international abortions.  The Wall Street Journal reports:

President Barack Obama quietly overturned the “global gag rule” Friday, allowing U.S. foreign-aid dollars to flow again to international family-planning programs that offer abortion or advocate for abortion rights.

He also said he would work to restore funding for the United Nations Population Fund, which pays for similar family-planning programs in a wider range of countries. And he vowed to search for common ground between people on both sides of the issue.

In related news, Obama’s $825 billion-dollar economic stimulus package includes “hundreds of millions of dollars” for contraceptives, according to Senator John Boehner.

So America’s in a recession, and instead of talking about cuts in spending, President Obama is making it a priority to fund abortions in other countries and buy contraceptives to encourage young people to have “safe sex.”  All of this is paid for with our tax dollars.

God help us.

Should the Church Fight Climate Change?

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

It’s freezing outside, making this a good time to address the polarizing subject of global warming. The idea that man has caused the earth to warm at alarming rates has few skeptics these days, even though there is mounting evidence that climate change is one thing of many that we simply cannot control.

Earlier this month it was reported that Dr. James Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and an adviser to Al Gore, made another huge blunder, leading to more doubts about whether we can trust the scientific community’s claim that man-made greenhouse gases are destroying our planet. Hansen announced that last month was the “hottest October on record.” Christopher Booker writes,

This was startling. Across the world there were reports of unseasonal snow and plummeting temperatures last month, from the American Great Plains to China, and from the Alps to New Zealand. China’s official news agency reported that Tibet had suffered its “worst snowstorm ever”. In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration registered 63 local snowfall records and 115 lowest-ever temperatures for the month, and ranked it as only the 70th-warmest October in 114 years.

The anomaly was explained when it was discovered that GISS had carried over figures from September to October, which would obviously make October appear to be warmer than it really was.  A GISS spokesman explained that the reason for the error was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with.  But it is hard to interpret this as a mistake, since Hansen has been caught making similar blunders in the past.  In 2007, for example, he was forced to revise figures which had inaccurately reported the 1990s to be the hottest decade on record, changing them to show that this distinction really belongs to the 1930s.

After reading the facts, one begins to feel as if the wool is being pulled over his eyes–which isn’t half-bad, since it is so cold outside.

Although the march to correct climate change is ill-advised, some religious leaders are trying to pull Christians into the fray.  Brian McLaren, a leader in the Emerging Church Movement, spoke at a recent Hope08 conference, saying the world “is on a precipice” as it struggles to deal with the three “tremendously frightening crises” of climate change, poverty and war.

Is climate change an issue churches should be involved with?  Can Christians conscientiously cavort with environmentalists to protect the planet?  One example from China argues otherwise.  Yesterday, Chris Horner, author of Red Hot Lies, was interviewed on the Glenn Beck Show.  During the course of the interview he mentioned that China wants to sell carbon credits to Europe and the U.S.  This is curious, because China is one of the biggest polluters in the world.  Where did they get the carbon credits?  Their experts have crunched some numbers to see what effect their forced-abortion policies have had on the environment and have found that China is slowing the trend toward climate change through population control.

China’s proposals are only the tip of the iceberg.  Give environmentalism some time and see where it takes us.  Abortion won’t be the only atrocity upheld in the name of Mother Earth.  Already Christian leaders like McLaren are putting the planet ahead of spiritual matters like sin and redemption through Christ.  If more churches join the fight against climate change, there’s no telling what religion in America will look like in a decade.

The church doesn’t have any business delving into politics and environmentalism.  Leave the fiction of man-made climate change to creative people like James Hansen.  If anyone is interested in the truth, they can still find it where churches are preaching the gospel.

The One Thing We Can Agree On

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

There have been a number of statements made by liberal politicians lately that suggest that the religious world is still struggling with the issue of abortion. Barack Obama’s projected confusion was reported on Truth and Repose last week. And now Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, a devout Catholic, states that after 2,000 years her church has not been able to come up with a definition of when life begins.

Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl strongly disagreed:

Wuerl pointed out that the Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear, and has been clear for 2,000 years. He cited Catechism language that reads, “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception … Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.”

Pelosi’s not backing down. She can’t, really, without creating a major disturbance in her political party. But that doesn’t change the fact that she’s wrong.

The consensus reaches into Protestant churches as well. In his commentary on Exodus 21:22, John Calvin wrote,

…the unborn, though enclosed in the womb of his mother, is already a human being, and it is an almost monstrous crime to rob it of life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his most secure place of refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy the unborn in the womb before it has come to light.

Martin Luther spoke out against abortion on numerous occasions. For example, he said, “Surely at such a time [conception], the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed.”

Even the existentialist Christian philosopher Karl Barth condemned the practice, saying, “The unborn child is from the very first a child. It is still developing and has no independent life. But it is a man and not a thing, nor a mere part of the mother’s body…. He who destroys germinating life kills a man….”

Speaking of the millions of abortions that had been carried out in the U.S. since 1973, John Stott, the most prominent spokesman of the Anglican Church, said,

Any society which can tolerate these things, let alone legislate for them, has ceased to be civilised. One of the major signs of decadence in the Roman Empire was that its unwanted babies were ‘exposed’, that is abandoned and left to die. Can we claim that contemporary Western society is any less decadent because it consigns its unwanted babies to the hospital incinerator instead of the local rubbish dump? Indeed modern abortion is even worse than ancient exposure because it has been commercialised, and has become, at least for some doctors and clinics, an extremely lucrative practice. But reverence for human life is an indisputable characteristic of a humane and civilised society.

James Dobson, a leader of the evangelical movement in America and founder of Focus on the Family, called the millions of abortions since Roe v. Wade “the biggest holocaust in world history.”

Most importantly, the Bible condemns the practice, arguing that God creates life in the womb, not outside of the womb (Ps. 139:13-14). This is so clear that theologians and church leaders who can agree on little else join hand in hand against those who promote this grievous assault on the unborn.

If politicians like Pelosi want to promote abortion in this country, let them. We have the First Amendment. But it is absurd for them to think that believers will sit silently as they are forcibly rallied to their bloody cause.


Friday, August 22nd, 2008

Last Saturday, Rick Warren invited the presidential candidates to Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, for a “Civil Forum on the Presidency.” When the subject turned to abortion, the candidates’ answers were revealing. Warren asked, “Forty million abortions. At what point does a baby get human rights in your view?”

Obama’s answer: “Well, I think that whether you are looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.”

When Warren asked McCain the same question, McCain went on to prove that he was above Obama’s pay grade when he answered, “At the moment of conception.”

Abortion is a pretty important issue that has been around for a long time. Since the president appoints judges to the Supreme Court, which has been the battleground of abortion legislation for over 35 years, wouldn’t it be nice if he could answer the question with some “specificity?”

Requiem for a Word

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Yesterday, in an interview broadcast on one of the Sunday talk shows, Tom Ridge said he thought he would make a good running mate for John McCain, despite their differences on the issue of abortion.

Speaking of this fundamental and important difference, Ridge commented on Senator McCain, saying, “He’s not judgmental about me or my belief. He just disagrees with me.”

What does judgmental mean anyway? There was a time when judgments conjured up images of courtrooms and lawyers cross-examining witnesses to get to the truth. Being judgmental meant studying the evidence to arrive at a sound decision. Before political correctness was in vogue, you couldn’t disagree with someone properly without being judgmental, because you had to make a judgment about something before you could enter into a discussion.

Times have changed. Ridge’s comment reflects a common attitude that judging someone–whatever that means–is the cardinal sin.

The most popular verse among the unchurched is Matthew 7:1: “Judge not that you be not judged.” It sounds good when your feet are being put to the fire. It’s a Scriptural way to say, “Hey, get off my back!” Of course, in context Jesus’ words were a judgment in themselves about hypocrisy. But few people take the time to look past Matthew 7:1 to the next few verses.

So I’m declaring the death of the word judgmental. Over the last few years it has gotten heavy and old, unable to stay crisp and useful. Not able to keep up with today’s “disagreements” and “spirited debates,” it collapsed on the speedway of American language, and every attempt to resuscitate it has been unsuccessful.

Alas! poor judgmental. I knew him well.


Monday, April 7th, 2008

In my Ethics class, I teach my students that punishment involves the following five elements.

  1. Punishment must involve pain, harm, or some other consequence normally considered unpleasant.
  2. The punishment must be administered for an offense against a law or rule.
  3. The punishment must be administered to someone who has been judged guilty of an offense.
  4. The punishment must be imposed by someone other than the offender.
  5. The punishment must be imposed by rightful authority (Olen and Barry, Applying Ethics, 320-231).

During a Q&A session in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Barack Obama responded to a woman’s plea to “stop these abortions.” After giving the typical Democratic response that we have to trust women to make the right decisions for themselves, he elaborated on his belief that sex education ought to be taught in public schools.

Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby. I don’t want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn’t make sense to not give them information.

What did he mean by “punished with a baby”? Perhaps it was a poor choice of words, but as far as I know, he hasn’t retracted his words. It appears that Senator Obama really does think of some pregnancies as punishment, which means he believes a baby is “harm” inflicted on a guilty person by a rightful authority.
Is he saying babies bring “harm” to their mothers? Does he mean that irresponsible, premarital sex is morally wrong? Does he defer to God, the rightful authority who “inflicts” women with pregnancies? All these conclusions are based on the textbook meaning of the word “punishment” in the context of his statements in Pennsylvania.
Perhaps this is yet another election-year gaffe. But one ought to be more careful when he is addressing a subject as sensitive as abortion. Words mean things, and I believe Senator Obama’s words reveal a moral deficiency, not only in his own thinking but also in one of the major platforms of the Democratic party. For those who promote abortion as a woman’s right, pregnancy is punishment; babies are painful consequences of bad behavior.
I prefer David’s outlook–they are gifts from God (Ps. 127:3-5). No Democrat or Republican is going to change my mind on that.

Rescued Frozen Embryo Born to Happy Couple

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

Just how valuable are frozen embryos? This question is easy for Glen and Rebekah Markham, the New Orleans couple who fled their home during Hurricane Katrina, leaving five frozen embryos behind in the fertility clinic where they were conceived. They were relieved upon hearing about a successful rescue mission, which snatched their embryos from a flooded hospital sweltering in 100-degree temperatures.

According to a Fox News report, the rescue meant more to the Markhams than just a way to prevent another $12,000 in vitro procedure.

We see our little boy [Witt, their two-year-old son who was also conceived through IVF] — we see what the potential of those little embryos is,” Rebekah Markham said. “It meant more to us than a few cells frozen in a hospital.

The Markham’s second son was born yesterday via Cesarian section. They haven’t chosen a name yet, although they are receiving several recommendations, such as “Harry Cane” and “Cat Five.”

The difference between the way the media reports this story and the way it is told through the eyes of these parents is striking. They speak of the rescue of their son. But the news reads in a rather cold manner, saying what was rescued was the “child’s frozen embryo,” not the child himself. The influence of abortion is obvious. If it weren’t for that abhorrent practice, there would be no question that this was a case of saved lives instead of rescued tissue.

The Markhams know better. They are reminded of the value of the unborn every time they look at their two sons.