Interview with Donald Miller

Essays — By on July 11, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Donald Miller is the best-selling author of Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What, Through Painted Deserts and To Own a Dragon. He is currently writing his fifth book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, which explores the principles of story-telling in our lives. A feature film is in the works based on Blue Like Jazz, and Don is also in collaboration with the filmmakers behind Nooma for a film series titled Transitus. Don also founded The Mentoring Project (formerly The Belmont Foundation), a non-profit organization which is recruiting ten-thousand mentors through one-thousand church-based mentoring programs.

Don is currently touring with the Obama campaign’s “Faith, Family and Values Tour”, conducting forums in battleground states. On Tuesday, Don spoke in Colorado Springs. We wanted to give him a chance to explain why he made the controversial decision to campaign for Barack Obama.

(Full disclosure: Donald Miller is also the founder of the Burnside Writers Collective, and currently serves as an advisor for us when time allows. He is an invaluable friend and supporter. That said, thoughtful critics, both independent and conservative, have raised some good points in objection to Don’s decision to campaign for Obama. The following questions were drafted by Burnside editors Jordan Green and John Pattison.)

Burnside: Can you lay out your biggest reasons for supporting Barack Obama?

Donald Miller:
First off, I know this is an odd thing for somebody in my position to do, to support a candidate for President. But I do feel this candidate is unique. Barack is the only candidate willing to talk about his faith in Jesus. Other candidates are reluctant, but Obama is not. He is the only one who has consistently talked about the cross, about redemption, and about repentance. Many white evangelicals have a misconception about Barack…they believe that because he is a Democrat, he cannot be a Christian. But times have changed, culture has changed, and political parties change. So one of the reasons I support Barack is because he is my Christian brother, and other Christians are rejecting him.

But that has little to do with his candidacy. In short, there are a few issues I agree with Barack on.

Senator Obama is going to move us past the impasse in our cultural war, something I think of as a cultural Vietnam. On the issue of abortion, he is the only candidate who has a plan to reduce the number of abortions. John McCain’s only plan is the same old trick: say that you are pro life and offer no plan at all other than to criminalize abortion. I simply think that plan hasn’t worked, and we have to face that fact and look for other ways to make progress.

I realize this is controversial, that there are many who would rather vote for a pro-life candidate and keep the abortion rate the same, on principle. And like them I believe in the sanctity of life, I simply think we need to begin making progress, and Barack is offering progress. He is also standing up to his own party on the issue and moving the party forward to elevate the issue of the sanctity of life within the Democratic Party. I also see this as progress. I do wish we could end abortion completely, but the Republicans have not spelled out a realistic plan to do so, and until they do, I won’t vote for a candidate who simply throws us a pro-life line and no plan. It seems insincere.

But let me add this: I do wish Obama were pro-life. His plan to reduce the rate of abortion is a great step for the party, but I also wish he would defend the unborn to a greater degree.

However, at this point, in this election, with these two candidates, I think progress will be made with Barack. Not enough progress, but some progress, especially within the Democratic party, who may soften their stand on the sanctity of life.

A personal connection with me regarding Obama involves the initiative he is taking with responsible fatherhood. He has already drawn up legislation to change the welfare state to stop rewarding families whose fathers leave, and is working to change the economic structure so fathers who stay with their families are given tax relief. This has been an age-old problem that was written about in George Gilder‘s book Sexual Suicide. (Gilder’s) book is a Conservative’s economic manifesto, but Barack sees a lot of value in Gilder’s ideas. But because Barack is a Democrat, Conservatives are unable to even consider his ideas.

BWC: A lot of folks view overturning Roe v. Wade as a pipe dream. But electing John McCain could very likely tip the scales of the Supreme Court toward the conservative side, and Roe v. Wade could be overturned. Do you think the impact of Barack Obama’s plans on abortion would outweigh an outright reversal of the Supreme Court’s decision?

Don: If McCain cared about the issue of abortion enough, he would move forward on the issue. He might draft a constitutional amendment that would make abortion specifically unconstitutional, the way George W. Bush talked of doing with gay marriage. George W. Bush could have done something like this when he had majority votes in both houses of Congress.

But I feel like they didn’t touch the issue because it would have cost them politically. I simply do not see McCain’s stand on abortion being as strong as conservatives think it is. He changed his mind on the issue only a few years ago, in fact. I think it’s a ploy to get votes. If McCain were strong on the issue, he would call it murder, saying abortion should be criminalized, and perhaps Cindy McCain would talk about the issue. Sara Palin would talk about how abortion should be criminalized.

Instead, they throw the pro-life line at us and go on doing nothing. It should make conservatives furious, but it doesn’t. It’s like the argument has become a game about racking up rhetorical points, rather than saving lives. I see this as hypocritcal, and I support Obama’s plan to make actual headway on this issue. The future may change this for me, but at this point, I see some hope on the horizon.

BWC: Is there something to be learned from the failures of the Religious Right? For 30 years, they’ve aligned themselves with the Republican party with very little to show…are you concerned your decision to campaign is just a pendulum swing to the Left?

Don: I don’t know that there is little to show. Religious leaders are very powerful, and Republicans cater to them and cannot win without the religious vote. That said, Republicans have pitched us two issues and reduced the Christian worldview to Gay Marriage and Abortion.

They had to do that because their economic policies are Biblically debatable. And occasionally there are battles won on the two fronts they’ve given the white church, but if you are asking if it was worth it to sell the church to the Republican Party, I would say no. Abortion is still legal, and many Democrats oppose gay marriage. So I don’t see the use in staying in this impasse any longer.

BWC: Some church leaders advocate an “Endorse no one, advise everyone” policy. Do you see yourself breaking from this mindset?

Don: I suppose so. I intend to vote for Obama, so I would consider that an endorsement. I feel free to talk about that. I don’t have a cynicism about elected leaders. I think they are human, that The Fall happened to them just like it happened to me. I recently went to Uganda with a diplomat who, because of his rank and power, could start the court system up in the north, and get kids out of prison who should have gotten off with time served. There is so much good that only diplomats can do.

I think it is very fashionable to remain independent right now, but I don’t see the use. I am willing to look uncool to help the first African-American become President, and to have a strong, Christian leader in the White House. Besides, if I were not willing to work alongside somebody, I doubt they’d be calling to ask for my advice. I see this as a historical race, and I want to be willing to take some heat as an early adapter. And there are many early adapters.

Most evangelicals polled will vote for Barack. It is only the very conservative, mostly white suburban churched who are leaning toward McCain. Today on the news I heard a pastor say you could not possibly be a Christian and vote for Barack Obama. I cringed when I heard it, because yesterday in Colorado I met with about thirty African-American pastors who love Jesus and know Jesus, who will be voting for Barack. I wondered what they might think when they hear something like that, an angry white man telling them they do not know Jesus, and that they are going to hell. When we pick up a bullhorn and speak from within our insular communities, without so much as talking to people who come from another perspective, we do a great deal of damage. I don’t want to be a part of that. But I don’t think my endorsement of Barack is quite like that. I am not saying to the church that they do not know Jesus unless they vote for Barack, or that they are going to go to hell or anything. I am simply saying I am voting for Barack, and explaining why.

BWC: Do you see a difference between voting for a candidate and campaigning for a candidate?

Don: I see a difference socially. We consider it patriotic to vote, but unfashionable to campaign. But that doesn’t matter to me right now. I want to be on the right side of history on this one. Ethically, I do not believe it is wrong to campaign. Biblically, I don’t think it’s wrong either. It just doesn’t look cool, that’s all.

Twenty years from now, when my children asked what I did during this historical campaign, I want to tell them that I went out and worked, made calls, went door to door, and was able to stump for Barack. There are many in my parents generation who regret not being able to say that they worked hard during the civil rights movement, and I don’t want to miss this opportunity.

BWC: You’ve mentioned the goal of ending the violent rhetoric of the “Culture War”. While the division of America has been perpetuated by both sides, a statement like “Stop The Culture War” seems more directed at conservatives, and could be viewed as rhetoric in and of itself. How, practically, do we bring about an end to that sort of language? Do you think the values on either side of the culture war are truly in conflict?

Don: I don’t intend that statement toward conservatives alone. I think both sides feel like the other side is the enemy. But I know both sides. And both sides have very good people working hard to do what they feel is right. I think we have to make it clear that because we support one candidate doesn’t mean we hate the other. I don’t hate John McCain. I like him, in fact. But when I do the math, Obama is my candidate.

I hate the negative advertisements just like everybody else. But those advertisements work on the ignorant, and it gets simple thinkers heated up. We just have to have the discipline to be civil. Many of my friends will vote for McCain, and members of my family too. But it doesn’t matter to me. Family comes first, and so do friends. When I’m on my deathbed, Barack Obama and John McCain won’t be there, but my friends and family will. So they come first, and they are more important. I just won’t let myself get too heated about this stuff. It’s not worth it.

BWC: Are Christians participating in the electoral process are being forced to choose “the lesser of two evils”? I don’t mean to say Barack Obama or John McCain are evil, but supporting either side seems to demand a compromise of our beliefs on some level. Maybe our anti-abortion stance supersedes our beliefs on war, and vice versa.

Don: I think this is basically true, but I’m not drawn to the negative tone of that popular phrase. I don’t think John McCain or Barack Obama are evil. I think they are both good men. But the fall happened, and so things here on earth are messy and no leader is going to be perfect until Christ comes back. Until then, we educate ourselves on the issues, do some careful math, and vote for a candidate that we think will govern the best.

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    119 Comments

  • ariele says:

    i like that donald, i do.

  • Douglas Johnson says:

    In this interview, Mr. Miller said, “He [Obama] is also standing up to his own party on the [abortion] issue and moving the party forward to elevate the issue of the sanctity of life within the Democratic Party. . . . I support Obama’s plan to make actual headway on this issue.”

    I suppose these are references to Obama’s very recent (post-nomination) talk about promoting “abortion reduction.” But anyone who has been paying attention knows that this is nothing more than a short-term public relations “messaging” strategy, cooked up at liberal think tanks, especially Third Way, where veteran pro-abortion activists specialize in developing strategies to help hard-core pro-abortion politicians camouflage their positions.

    The problem is that the real Barack Obama has a long and consistent record, and he is firmly committed to an agenda of policies that, if implemented, would greatly increase the numbers of abortions performed.

    Here is an example how the real Obama has been “moving the party forward to elevate the issue of the sanctity of life. . .” On July 17, 2007, Obama stood in front of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the lobbying-political arm of the nation’s largest abortion provider, and pledged, “The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.”

    Obama is a cosponsor of this so-called “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA) (S. 1173). It is a bill that would invalidate virtually every federal and state limitation on abortion, including all parental notification and consent laws, waiting periods, and limitations on public funding of abortion. Or, as the National Organization for Women put it, it would “sweep away hundreds of anti-abortion laws [and] policies.” These laws in the aggregate have saved — are saving — countless lives.

    Cardinal Justin Rigali, in a September 19, 2008, letter to members of Congress, explained with great clarity the sweeping power of the language contained in the FOCA:

    “First it [the FOCA] creates a ‘fundamental right’ to abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy, including a right to abort a fully developed child in the final weeks for undefined ‘health’ reasons. No government body at any level would be able to ‘deny or interfere with’ this newly created federal right. Second, it forbids government at all levels to ‘discriminate’ against the exercise of this right ‘in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information.’ For the first time, abortion on demand would be a national entitlement that government must condone and promote in all public programs affecting pregnant women.”

    Rigali added: “We can’t reduce abortions by promoting abortion. . . . We cannot reduce abortions by insisting that every program supporting women in childbirth and child care must also support abortion. No one who sponsors or supports legislation like FOCA can credibly claim to be part of a good-faith discussion on how to reduce abortions.”

    But, you need not take his word for it, or mind. Read what Planned Parenthood said about the FOCA, here:
    http://www.nrlc.org/FOCA/PPFAfoca-questions-12445.mht

    Obama also advocates repeal of the Hyde Amendment, the law that since 1976 has blocked almost all federal funding of abortion. This has been one of the most successful “abortion reduction” policies ever adopted. By even the most conservative estimate, there are more than one million Americans alive today because of the Hyde Amendment — some of them are probably turning out for the Obama campaign’s “Faith, Family, Values Tour” meetings. Even the Alan Guttmacher Institute (linked to Planned Parenthood) and NARAL admit that the Hyde Amendment (and the similar policies adopted by many states) have resulted in many, many babies being born who otherwise would have been aborted — indeed, the pro-abortion groups periodically put out papers complaining about this effect. Obama has also pledged to make abortion coverage part of his proposed national health insurance plan.

    In this connection, it is important to understand that the Hyde Amendment must be renewed every year, because it is a “limitation amendment” on the annual Health and Human Services appropriations bill. During some years, the Hyde Amendment was preserved only because Republican presidents threatened to veto, or did veto, HHS funding bills that did not contain the language to continue the ban. But renewal of the Hyde Amendment would be difficult if a president insisted that any funding bill that contained it would be face a veto.

    Obama even advocates repeal of the national ban on partial-birth abortions, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 2007 on a 5-4 vote, in a ruling that Obama harshly criticized. Indeed, one of the major purposes of the “Freedom of Choice Act,” according to its prime sponsors, is the nullification of the ban on partial-birth abortions.

    Mr. Miller refers in passing to a “Human Life Amendment” to the Constitution. It should be noted that the Constitution does not give a president any formal role whatever in the constitutional amendment process. (An amendment requires a two-thirds vote in each house of Congress, and ratification by at least 38 state legislatures, but not the president’s signature.) With respect to regular bills, however, such as the “Freedom of Choice Act,” the president’s hand holds great power: to veto the bill — thereby protecting hundreds of pro-life laws and saving countless human lives, which is what a President John McCain would do if the “Freedom of Choice Act” reaches his desk — or to sign, as Obama has pledged to do.

    Let me close with with just more example of how Obama would “make actual headway on this issue.” Across the nation, crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) provide all manner of assistance to women who are experiencing crisis pregnancies, and they save the lives of many children. Late last year, RHrealitycheck.org, a prominent pro-abortion advocacy website, submitted in writing the following question to the Obama campaign (as part of a candidate questionnaire): “Does Sen. Obama support continuing federal funding for crisis pregnancy centers?”

    The Obama campaign response was short, but it speaks volumes: “No.”

    Douglas Johnson
    Legislative Director
    National Right to Life
    Legfederal//at//aol-dot-com
    http://www.nrlc.org

  • Jordan says:

    Now THAT’S how you start a conversation off!

    Thanks very much for your post, Mr. Johnson.

    Jordan Green
    BWC

  • John Pattison says:

    Regarding Obama’s position on abortion:

    I personally can’t see the logic in the stance of those who say they are “personally opposed to abortion but don’t believe it’s the governments place to legislate the issue” – words, it should be said, I’ve never directly heard from Obama – though I’m doing more research into that position.

    I am highly sensitive to the fact that the most vocal critics of abortion are men. (Feminists for Life, an organization whose members include Sarah Palin and one of my heroes, Martin Sheen, is a notable exception.) It doesn’t surprise me that many pro-choice women feel like the “anti-abortion” position is just another form of patriarchy. I’d like to see more women speaking for the pro-life side. And, when men speak from that position, I’d like to hear a greater appreciation for the link between abortion and social justice (poverty, access to health care, and the burdens of modern society).

    I also don’t think overturning Roe will dramatically lower the number of abortions in this country. It will throw the issue back to the states. A few states could conceivably outlaw all abortions, but most will not. We would also lose the existing federal restrictions on certain procedures, though we could expect states to enact their own restrictions.

    I’ve also found data which shows that those countries with the fewest restrictions on abortion actually have the lowest abortion rates, while certain countries where all abortion is outlawed have some of the highest rates of abortion.

    I think if we’re serious about reducing the number of abortions in this country followers of Jesus should do a better job of promoting the sanctity of ALL life, including life outside the womb. I agree that babies are especially helpless and deserve special protection, but so do the civilians killed in our country’s air attacks in Iraq and, most recently, Afghanistan. When the people calling for the protection of life in utero are the same people beating the drum for an unjust war, the pro-life message gets lost. We undermine our desire for a “culture of life” by sanctioning the torture of enemy combatants and executing criminals (snuffing out any opportunity for redemption). The Catholic idea of the “seamless garment of life” is a powerful concept worthy of serious consideration by evangelicals.

    All that being said, I am voting for Barack Obama despite his pro-choice position, not because of it. I appreciate what Donald says here about Obama’s plan to reduce the number of abortions. I also agree that the Republican Party officials seem more interested in using abortion as a wedge issue to win elections rather than doing something about it.

    I’m reminded of the line from Obama’s acceptance speech in which he said “What has also been lost is our sense of common purpose, and that’s what we have to restore. We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country.”

    Finding common ground is the foundation we need to begin our conversation on this and so many other vital issues. Obama seems ready to have this conversation.

    I’ll respond to the rest of the interview with Don in another comment.

  • Leanne says:

    I’m sad to say that I was starting to doubt my “gut”. I was thinking, after reading this interview (and listening to this conversation for the last year in various news outlets and F2F discussions) that maybe I WAS one of “those” Christians.

    You know, the kind Donald was talking about. I was thinking, while reading this interview, that I WAS closing my mind. My opinion WAS formed and I was NOT wanting to try and find a common agreement with those willing to work w/in Obama’s pro-choice/pro-life (still not sure what he is) stance.

    I came back here to confess and found Douglas Johnson’s comments.

    I’m still interested in the dialogue but for me, the conversation just got a heckuva lot more interesting.

    Well done, Mr. Johnson!

    Good thoughts, Mr. Miller.

  • melanie says:

    Whew! Gutsy.

    I’m not sure I agree with the statement “most evangelicals are voting for Barak,” but maybe that’s because I live in a bubble.

    What Don is doing is going to work. I don’t mean it guarantees a democratic president, but rather that more and more Christians are going to see things differently because someone who they think of as one of them is taking a surprising stand. It’s going to confuse people first, then it’s going to wake people up.

    The challenge is to continue to befriend the conservatives who don’t see things the same way we do(not stooping to criticize Dobson, for example). The thing the enemy (the real enemy) most wants and may get, is a civil war among Christians. We cannot allow that to happen.

  • Jeremy Botter says:

    Thank you for posting this interview. It’s comforting to know that there are indeed others who believe that supporting Barack Obama doesn’t mean you don’t love Jesus.

  • nathan says:

    I continually lament the fact that Ron Paul is not the Republican nominee. I find his stances on everything to be the most lucid and consistent i have ever heard on the national stage. I will be taking his advice and voting for a third party candidate. This is not a protest vote to say i don’t want Obama or McCain (though i don’t want McCain), but rather it is a vote to change the system. I’m greedy; i want more change than the two entrenched parties can offer. I’m done voting for platforms i agree with no more than half of. I want more options. I want the media to recognize that there are other ideas out there besides the mainstream Democrat and Republican ones. I want a political system that properly reflects the diversity and complexity of the issues that face our nation, rather than one that simplifies it to two “enemies”, two idolized and vilified personalities.

    I am voting third party and campaigning for them to tell the media to stop ignoring Green, Libertarian, Constitution candidates or independents like Nader who are on the ballot of almost all the states. I am voting third party to try and get those parties enough votes to get federal funds next time around. I am voting for the long term, not just the next four years.

  • Leanne says:

    Jeremy made a very good point. I have a very hard time with my brothers and sisters in Christ using each others opinions, political or otherwise, as a barometer of their faith.

    So Donald Miller is voting for Obama? Good for him for taking a stand based upon the convictions of his heart. Even better is his apparent willingness to allow everyone else the same privilege.

    Like Melanie said, let’s not play into the real enemy’s hand.

  • johnsr says:

    I guess I read Miller’s answers differently. To me he sounds like a little boy trying to justify a bad decision when he knows it makes no sense.

    There are certain issues that should be “wedge” issues, should make you take a stand. Killing children is one of them. This is our generation’s issue whether we wish it or not.

    I am afraid that if Donald Miller lived in the time of Lincoln he would have opposed him in favor of someone else who would reduce slavery rather than trying to abolish it. If he lived in the time of Churchill he would have opposed him in favor of Chamberlain and appeasement. Is this really, as he says, the way he wants his family to remember him?

    There come times in our lives when we stand for what is right, even when it means the cool kids won’t like us, or we are going to seem hard-nosed – simply because it is the right thing to do. Some issues really are black and white.

    I have been and continue to be a fan of Miller’s writings. He is talented and creative and makes me think of things in new ways. I do not doubt his sincerity, just his wisdom. But there are just some things that are wrong. Period. No smooth talk is going to change it.

    On this issue, Obama is wrong. I have a hard time saying it, but his voting record, starting at the state level, is nothing less than a support for infanticide. Especially when he said on the floor of the Illinois senate that giving rights to children born in botched abortions would be dangerous because it would open up the possibility of rights being given to children who are yet unborn and be a blow to abortion rights. This is the man who says he wants to bring us together on this issue?

    For all their faults (and they would probably admit to many) at least the McCains/Palins live their commitment to life as parents of adopted and special needs children. That is something to be honored and speaks much for their character. Also, as a fairly new grandparent I must applaud their love and support for a pregnant daughter, welcoming the new child- quite different than Obama’s saying he wouldn’t want his daughter “punished” by a child should she make a mistake like that.

    I am sorry. Mr. Miller can try to talk around it all he wants. He will not convince me.

  • Bryan Catherman says:

    Don Miller has put himself out there in a bold step; one that I would argue is bigger than we’ve seen from politicians and Christians in 35 years. He’s taking a different look at the issue of abortion and encouraging people, especially other Christians do dig deeper and do the same.

    We only seem to talk about Roe v. Wade in election years. And it’s just talk. The word “overturning” appeared in the conversation only minutes after the opinion’s release in 1973 and nothing has changed. Thirty-five years of the same old rhetoric.

    But what we don’t often hear is how this magic overturning will take place. Please, please don’t simply tell me it’s about appointments to the courts, I know better than that.

    As a Christian and one who finds abortion to be a vile act, I remember learning about the court and slowly coming to the realization that overturning Roe is not as simple as it sounds.

    For starters, the court system is built on long-standing traditions; cases decide cases (aka: case law). Article III of the US Constitution grants the courts power in deciding “Cases” and “Controversies” but says little to the specifics; therefore, most of the rules of the court have developed through a history of tradition. Overturning cases is an extremely rare practice.

    But even if new appointments were made and the court wanted to overturn Roe, they don’t simply say, “Okay, it’s time we reverse that ruling.” Even if they could take up any issue that fancied them (some might call that legislating from the bench), they can’t because the court system just doesn’t work this way.

    First, a case or controversy must be brought before the court. A petitioner brings a legal claim of harm in which a respondent may answer to, and then the Justices decide the outcome.

    However, there are some additional requirements. Donald Miller can’t take a case about abortion before the courts because he doesn’t have standing to sue (at least not that I’m aware of). “To have standing to sue,” according to Understanding Constitutional Law 3rd Ed. by Redlich, Attanosio, and Goldstein, “an individual bringing a lawsuit in federal court must have a direct personal interest in the governmental act she challenges.” A mother or father has a direct personal interest. I believe that an unborn child, if defined as a person and afforded the rights of a citizen, would also have an obvious direct personal interest and that interest could potentially have representation like many other child services. However, at present, the definition of an unborn child is not such that the unborn child has this level of rights in a court of law. So, that leaves the father. (We’ll come back to this in a moment.)

    Next, there has to be some actual or legal harm. In the case of abortion, an abortion will probably have to actually have occurred that violated the right of another. Because the mother can choose to have an abortion or not, she is not legally harmed by the act, that is to say her right has not been violated by the government or another party. Considering that we’ve already established the lack of legal standing of the unborn child, this leaves only the father. Imagine a father who wished to keep and raise the child but the mother had an abortion against his wishes. Now the father would have standing and an actual harm, but what court would rule to place the ultimate decision in the hands of the father rather than with the woman carrying the child? That’s a highly unlikely ruling.

    So ultimately, if Christians wish to see Roe overturned, we need to press on our elected politicians more. We need not to “overturn” Roe v. Wade, but instead find a way to give a voice to the unborn. We can no longer afford to simply be okay with the misguided judicial appointment rhetoric.

    And in the meantime, we need to start looking for successful ways to prevent the need for abortions. It’s been thirty-five years; that should be enough time to see what works and what doesn’t. It’s a big problem and I agree with Don on this one; it’s time for a fresh approach.

  • John Pattison says:

    I don’t understand the mindset that would end all debate, end all conversation, over a single issue – when there are so many that bedevil us. The state of things is bad enough that ten months from now we may be wishing we had the luxury to debate abortion. No time, though. I’ve got to go forage for food like the main character in “The Road.”

    Don, at the very end of the interview, brought up a point to which I can relate. He talked about weighing all the issues, doing the math, and picking the candidate we think will best govern the country.

    As I said in my last comment, I am voting for Barack Obama despite, not because of, his pro-choice position. But I have done the math and John McCain and Sarah Palin have been found wanting.

    This nation is facing a whole host of crises. I don’t need to list them out, but I will, for rhetorical effect: a reputation in ruins, a world that distrusts us, neighbors distrusting each other, splintered families, a broken political system, Social Security facing bankruptcy, the skyrocketing costs of health care, the ballooning national debt, terrorist threat, nuclear proliferation, two wars (for now), and the looming collapse of the American and world economies. (Oh yeah, and in 2005 we let an American city drown.) We are witnessing firsthand the spiritual and practical bankruptcy of many of the policies of the Bush administration – though there is plenty of blame to go around. John McCain has long ago abandoned the facade of “maverick” and is doing the best he can to identify himself with the policies of the Bush administration in an effort to win the support of people from my faith tradition. And it’s working.

    Obama – while far from a perfect candidate – offers clear alternatives from Bush and McCain.

    I was on the fence until tonight. I was going to vote for Obama but I was uncomfortable actively working for his election. To paraphrase a friend, it felt like I was erecting empire only to knock it down. But there is too much at stake. If it means being intellectually dishonest for the next 40 days, so be it.

    I am going to do everything I can to get Obama elected, while trying to maintain a commitment to the poor, to the marginalized, and to “the least of these,” and to creation. I hope very much that I have the chance to be a thorn in the side of a President Obama.

  • Leanne says:

    You know, John, you raise a good question about whether or not a single issue should color our decision in who to vote for. I never would have thought it, being a card carrying Dem and a NPR loving, Oregonian native (who was raised “free to be you and me”) but………….

    Something happened when I came to Christ and what I realized, for me, is that the sanctity of life was THE thing that I could not ignore.

    Believe me, I was actually SICK about it last election but for me, there was this conviction, the kind you get when you know God is speaking to you directly in a clear and loving way, that let me know it was okay to get “hung up” on abortion.

    The reason it’s okay to me may seem simple and lacking in intellectual savvy but you know what? I think that’s the way God would have it for this girl.

    Just like I don’t bother myself with all the various programs and methods out there for reaching the lost (not that they aren’t helpful to be aware of) because I know I’m not the one who is going to do anything (it’s GOD who calls His children home), so is my view on this issue.

    In “witnessing” to others, all I need to “preach”is Christ crucified. Getting hung up on everything else (doctrine, denominations, etc.) only serves to remove Jesus from the situations He’s presenting me with.

    Same thing with politics.

    Now, that doesn’t mean that I bury my head in the sand or that I chastise anyone else for being convicted otherwise but for me, I keep it simple and foundational.

    Abortion is about as “child-like” as it gets.

  • Leanne says:

    Randy Alcorn posted some great stuff on his blog. I mentioned the discussion we’re having here as one worth checking out.

    If you’re interested:
    http://randyalcorn.blogspot.com/

    I haven’t watched/read the videos/articles yet but I thought it wouldn’t hurt if we all could speak as factually and knowledgeably about this as Douglas Johnson, myself included.

  • John Pattison says:

    Leanne,

    I’m concerned now that I may have come across as condescending. I didn’t mean to imply that single-issue voters lack intelligence or savvy. I don’t understand it, but that is as much about my personality as anything else. I embrace complexity, even adore it. It sometimes happens, though, that I make things complex which are actually quite simple.

    I admire your devotion to the pro-life cause and appreciate the way you articulated it with such simplicity and grace.

    Thanks for your commitment to civility. I apologize if I came across as anything close to disrespectful.

    John

  • Douglas Johnson says:

    John Pattison wrote: “Regarding Obama’s position on abortion: I personally can’t see the logic in the stance of those who say they are ‘personally opposed to abortion but don’t believe it’s the governments place to legislate the issue’ — words, it should be said, I’ve never directly heard from Obama — though I’m doing more research into that position.”

    Well, Obama does want the federal government to “legislate the issue.” He wants a federal statute that would knock down virtually all barriers to abortion, including late abortions — a statute that would continue with undiminished force even if Roe v. Wade is entirely overturned. As I explained in my earlier post, Obama is a cosponsor of S. 1173, the “Freedom of Choice Act,” which would prohibit any level of government from having any policy that would “interfere with” access to abortion, whether for adults or minors. The bill would also prohibit any government agency or official, at any level, from engaging in any action that would “discriminate against the exercise of” the right to abortion with respect to any “benefits, facilities, services, or information.” Aside from clearly eliminating the Hyde Amendment and all other laws that restrict public subsidies for elective abortions, this sweeping anti-”discrimination” clause would cover everything from rural health clinics, to health education programs in public schools, to pro-life proclaimations by public officials.

    But, if you want to hear directly from Obama on the question of legislating to limit abortions, here are some statements from his July 17, 2007 speech to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

    “We know that a woman’s right to make a decision about how many children she wants to have and when — without government interference — is one of the most fundamental freedoms we have in this country. . . . I have worked on this issue for decades now. I put Roe at the center of my lesson plan on reproductive freeom when I taught constitutional law. . . .So, you know where I stand. But this is more than just about standing our ground. It must be about more than protecting the gains of the past. We’re at a crossroads right now in America — and we have to move this country forward. This election is not just about playing defense, it’s also about playing offense.”

    Minutes later, he made the statement I quoted earlier: “The first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.”

    I think perhaps this is not the sort of “headway on this issue” that Donald Miller was hoping for, in the interview above.

    (There is much more of this sort of thing in the Obama speech and the question-and-answer session that followed. Videos of both are posted on various internet sites. A transcript of both the speech and the question session is posted here:
    http://lauraetch.googlepages.com/barackobamabeforeplannedparenthoodaction)

    If Obama ever said he was “personally opposed” to abortion, I didn’t see it. However, he did say, on March 29, 2008, at a town hall meeting in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, “If they [my daughters] make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.”

    John Pattison also wrote: “I am highly sensitive to the fact that the most vocal critics of abortion are men.”

    I have been involved with the right-to-life movement at the national level for over a quarter-century, and locally before that, and that certainly has not been my observation. The board of directors of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), which is a good reflection of the national right-to-life movement because it consists of a delegate selected by each state’s affiliated Right to Life federation (along with eight elected by the membership at large), has been predominantly female during the entire time I have worked for the organization (since 1981), and I think earlier as well. The current ratio on the NRLC board is nearly 2-to-1 female, which has been fairly typical. Most of the organization’s presidents have also been women, including the current president, Wanda Franz, Ph.D., who has served in that capacity since 1991. Most of the presidents and executive directors of state Right-to-Life organizations are also women. It may be that by “the most vocal” you mean “the ones I usually see on TV,” but that of course in partly a function of the decisions that network producers make about who to seek out. In some cases, such mainstream media gatekeepers go to people who fit their mental image of what a pro-life activist should look or sound like, rather than to people who really represent the grassroots pro-life movement locally or nationally.

    Having said that, it is not the critics-of-abortion-movement, it is the right-to-life movement. The reason that we are “critics of abortion” is that it is a violation of the right to life, and men and women should be equally concerned with the right to life. Men and women enter this world by the same route. And certainly, at least half of the humans who are killed by abortion are female — indeed, more than half, due to the growing prevalence of sex selection abortion in some places.

  • Lisa says:

    Wow!! Initially this blog post and all these comments left me speechless, but I do have some thoughts to share.

    Like most here, I am pro-life. I recently had a miscarriage after 8 years of trying to conceive, and know personally the sanctity of life. I remember learning that the first sign of life God gave my baby was the beating heart. And, I saw the heartbeat and the baby on the ultrasound and instantly loved that child. I still grieve today for the baby I lost.

    With that being said, I personally vote this November on only one election issue. Are not the lives of the servicemen and women equal to that of the unborn? My husband served in Iraq. I feared daily for his life and neither of us support this war after our own experiences. We have friends who have spent three of the past five years over there. I grieve for their lives and for their families. I grieve for my brother who filed bankruptcy this year due to economic woes. And, I grieve for my mother who struggles to pay her medical bills because she is retired and lives on a fixed income with little insurance coverage. I fear for the day she may have some catastrophic illness. To me, all these issues are of equal importance in this election. I believe that the current administration has failed the citizens in all these areas over the past eight years. And, I do believe it is time for a change. I believe that Obama will make more change in these areas than McCain will. McCain has become a Bush “yes man” in recent years, and I do not trust his judgement.

    Just as John Pattison, I will vote for Obama in spite of his stance on abortion. I do not believe either party will ever do anything about hot button issues. It is all rhetoric and as soon as elections are over, nothing is said or done about abortion. I believe that rather than waiting for legislation to change or the slim possibilty of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, that we, as Christians, need to begin with education. It’s not enough to educate our children on abstinence alone. They need to have a full sex education and understand consequences of choices they made. Then, they need to understand and feel loved enough that should they become pregnant, they can actually go to their parents to discuss the options rather than obtaining an abortion. I think the majority of abortions likely come from staunch Christian homes where children do not feel safe to tell parents of the sin they have commited. That is where the travesty lies in my eyes!

  • Coop says:

    Donald Miller has been one of my heroes of the faith since I read Blue Like Jazz five years ago. However, I have been perplexed by the way he has decided to promote the ideas of the american political system. After reading Claiborne and Haw’s Jesus for President, I am not sure how Christ-followers can align ourselves with an empire and a president rather than pledging our allegiance to a King and His kingdom. I plan to vote Jesus for president. I still love Donald Miller. I’m just confused.

  • Lisa says:

    Paragraph 3 in previous post: I meant to say, “I personally cannot vote this November on only one election issue.”

    Sorry!

  • Leanne says:

    @JP (John Pattison)-Can I call you JP? :D

    You absolutely did not offend. In fact, it is your very personality and your passion that I was responding to. I am thrilled you could see I was doing the same and honor that.

    *smiles*

    I think this is EXACTLY “WJJD” ;)

    @ Lisa- you nailed it completely. For you, there are other issues, equally as important, equally as impacting. I think that is JUST what God intended when He knit each of us together.

    We’re different, people, and that’s not a bad thing. Yes, for those of us who follow Jesus, we have a leader unlike any other, but, I truly believe if we are in line with His will we’ll KNOW what to do.

    “You will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right or turn to the left.’, right guys????

    (and I’m not talking about some checks and balances system or some “holy scorecard”, either, but rather if we are living and loving with Him so deeply that when He speaks to us, we HEAR Him)

    So, just ask He has wired us differently so that we might be able to reach the myriad of people in this lost, lost world, so had He done so with this election, this blog and this very day.

    Is it just me or is that something to CELEBRATE?!?!?!

  • Tim Miller says:

    Thanks, Donald, for an insightful and fair article on the subject. However, I have to disagree with your statements about Obama’s abortion position. (Disclaimer: I have endorsed McCain.) Obama’s position is that it is necessary to change hearts, not laws, to end abortion.

    Real change doesn’t work that way. Slavery didn’t end only because hearts were changed (although that was necessary). Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and the Constitution was amended to end slavery, even though many people still thought it was right.

    The Civil Rights movement determined that laws must be changed; in fact, a many southern conservatives argued that hearts should change FIRST. Martin Luther King and others rejected their logic, and rightfully so.

    Barack Obama doesn’t talk about changing hearts on the environment; he talks about signing the Kyoto accords, requiring alternative energy, and providing tax incentives. His opinion seems to be that those who disagree will catch up to the law.

    Finally, it is incorrect to state that abortion rates remain constant under pro-life leadership. Under President Bush, abortion rates have declined (according to Planned Parenthood and Right to Life; Sojourners Magazine has a different view). In my own state of Michigan, restricting late term abortions and requiring parental notification have made a significant decrease in the abortion rate.

    I would love to endorse a pro-life Democrat for president, but so far even moderate Democrats are bowing down to Emily’s List and Planned Parenthood.

    It is not enough to talk about Jesus, the cross, and redemption. David Duke can do that as well as I can. The gospel must be lived.

  • James says:

    As a Bible-believing Christian, I am PRO-LIFE and will vote ALL my values. That means I am against war, against the death penalty, against discrimination, against destroying life on this planet through pollution and oil addiction, in favor of welcoming the alien, and against policies that lead to violence and poverty around the world. Life doesn’t begin at conception and end at birth. Though he is far from perfect, this is why I support Obama for President.

  • Kay Hart says:

    Man! I’m in love with you guys! All of you!!! This is the first forum that I’ve found where Christians who disagree are carrying on a gracious and thoughtful debate. Seriously, you have inspired me. I had begun to lose hope and faith in the American church, and you have all restored that faith.

    No matter which side you are on I hope you will join me in praying and working to see these kinds of discussions become the norm in Christian circles. Create a blog. Leave messages on Facebook. Talk to your friends. We’ve got to work together to restore integrity and grace to the church in America if there is to be any hope of restoring it to the political process.

    As for the abortion issue, I have to say that I really appreciated Douglas Johnson’s posts. They were helpful and insightful. However, I’m still voting for Barack Obama. Abortions happened in this country before Roe v. Wade, though we’ll never know how many. Criminalizing abortions has never stopped abortions.

    A friend of mine just got back from Poland. She said that as a member of the EU Poland must allow abortions. However, she said that the spiritual climate is such that it has one of the lowest abortion rates in the world.

    I’m tired of being used by Republicans with no genuine commitment to life. Ending abortion requires two things, a spiritual awakening and an economic environment that includes healthcare for pregnant women and children and hope for the future. I’m ready to see real reductions in the number of abortions and I’m not willing to put principle above reality any longer. Who cares if we get abortion criminalized but fail to actually reduce abortions?

  • Douglas Johnson says:

    Kay Hart,

    Of course, only you will decide who you will vote for. But, I hope that you will not kid yourself into thinking that if Barack Obama is elected, that it will not increase the number of abortions performed. The abortion policies to which Obama is firmly committed, including his desire to nullify the state and federal pro-life laws and policies won at great cost over the past 35 years, will substantially increase the number of abortions, to the extent his policies are achieved.

    The administrations of the Republican presidents have, in fact, implemented and advanced pro-life policies that have saved many lives, and that continue to save lives. Space here only allows me to give a few examples, but many additional examples can be found on the NRLC website section titled “Presidential Records,” here: http://www.nrlc.org/PresidentialRecords.htm

    Here’s one example: The so-called “Mexico City Policy,” originally adopted by President Reagan, which cut off U.S. aid to organizations that perform or promote abortion “as a method of family planning” overseas, has had an enormous impact in reinforcing the pro-life laws that already protect unborn child in many less-developed countries. Each of the Republican presidents has implemented this policy. President Clinton removed the policy, and indeed the Clinton Administration actually pressured foreign governments to adopt a doctrine that abortion on demand was a fundamental right and should be freely available everywhere. The Clinton Administration also pumped hundreds of millions of dollars to the most aggressively pro-abortion organizations. As a U.S. senator, Obama’s first abortion-related vote was in favor of an amendment to nullify the Mexico City Policy. (That amendment passed the Senate, but was dropped in the face of a veto threat from President Bush). Of course, Obama would nullify the executive order that enforces the Mexico City Policy immediately upon being sworn in.

    Just during the tenure of the current President, and thanks in substantial part to his efforts, we have won enactment of the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act in 2002 (Obama killed a virtually identical bill in the Illinois legislature in 2003), the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in 2004, the Hyde-Weldon law in 2004 (a sweeping federal anti-discrimination shield for pro-life health care providers), the Unborn Victims of Violence Act in 2004, and others. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated, in one fell swoop, the bans on partial-birth abortion that had been enacted by more than half of the states, but in 2007, the same Court upheld the congressional ban on partial-birth abortions, on a 5-4 vote, with President Bush’s two appointees voting to uphold the law.

    Moreover, as I touched on earlier, the pro-life movement has won enactment of literally hundreds of state laws related to abortion that, despite the severe limits imposed by the Supreme Court’s pro-abortion rulings, are do save many lives. Studies by both pro-life researchers and pro-abortion researchers agree about this effect, although of course the pro-abortion side uses different language to describe it. These laws include informed consent laws (some of which now require that ultrasound images and/or information on fetal pain be made available), waiting periods, and parental notification and consent laws. All of these laws would be knocked flat by the “Freedom of Choice Act,” regarding which Obama promised Planned Parenthood, “The first thing I’d do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.”

    Also, allow me to revisit the question of government funding for elective abortion. In 1993, there was debate in Congress over whether to continue the Hyde Amendment, which since 1976 has blocked federal Medicaid funding for abortion. The Congressional Budget Office (at that time under Democratic control) wrote, “Based on information from the Centers for Disease Control and from States that currently pay for abortions using state funds, the federal government would probably fund between 325,000 to 675,000 abortions each year [if the federal government resumed Medicaid funding for abortion]. The increase in the total number of abortions would be smaller, however, because some abortions that are currently funded by other sources would be partially or totally paid from federal funds . . .”

    The Hyde Amendment, and the similar policies adopted by many states, are saving many lives. According to a 2007 NARAL factsheet, “A study by The Guttmacher Institute shows that Medicaid-eligible women in states that exclude abortion coverage have abortion rates of about half of those women in statesthat fund abortion care with their own dollars. This suggests that the Hyde amendment forces about half the women who would otherwise have abortions to carry unintended pregnancies to term and bear children against their wishes instead.”

    Although Speaker Nancy Pelolsi and most other Democratic congressional leaders are hostile to the Hyde Amendment, the law has been extended anyway because President Bush issued a letter in early 2007 saying that he would veto any bill that weakens any existing pro-life policy (see http://www.nrlc.org/Records/PresidentBushToPelosiProLifeVetoes.pdf). However, because the Hyde Amendment (and a number of similar provisions that govern other federal programs) must be renewed annually, things could change quickly under a president determined to re-establish federal funding of abortion on demand.

    Kay Hart, you hope to see increased “healthcare for pregnant women and children,” which you see as one factor to reduce the number of abortions. But even in this area, if you look at the record, you will find that with Barack Obama, where pro-abortion ideology conflicts with that goal, the pro-abortion ideology always wins.

    Here is one example: The State Children’s Health Insurance (SCHIP) program is a federal program that provides funds to states primarily to provide health services to children of low-income families. Under a regulation issued by the Bush Administration in 2002, states have the option of covering unborn children under the program, a policy known as the “unborn child rule.” Among its other effects, this rule allowed states to provide SCHIP services to pregnant women who were undocumented aliens and therefore otherwise ineligible for SCHIP, because the rule established eligibility through the child. However, the rule was harshly attacked by the abortion lobby (since they oppose any law or policy that recognizes the unborn child as a human entity), and it would be on the “hit list” for a future administrative repeal by any administration allied with these groups. Therefore, in August, 2007, during consideration of legislation to reauthorize and expand the SCHIP program, pro-life Senator Wayne Allard (R-Co.) offered an NRLC-backed amendment to codify the “unborn child rule.” The Allard Amendment would have written explicit language into the SCHIP statute to guarantee that a covered child “includes, at the option of a State, an unborn child.” The amendment further defined “unborn child” as “a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development, who is carried in the womb.” Senator Obama voted “no” on the Allard Amendment failed, and it failed by a single vote 49 to 50. (Roll call no. 302, August 2, 2007.) The “unborn child rule” continues in force — but only on the authority of the current president. It will be on the Obama hit list.

    Here is another example, which I touched on earlier: There are a great many “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs) in this country, mostly funded privately, that provide critical assistance to a great number of women who are experiencing crisis pregnancies. In recent years, a very modest amount of federal money has been made available to CPC networks in some states. Pro-life members of Congress for years have sought legislation to substantially increase this funding, but it has been blocked by lawmakers allied with the abortion industry, which includes the current Democratic leadership of both the House and the Senate. This continuing disagreement over such funding is the reason why the prominent pro-abortion advocacy operation RHrealitycheck.org included the question I quoted above on its presidential candidate questionnaire. Here again is their question: “Does Sen. Obama support continuing federal funding for crisis pregnancy centers?” And here again is the official written response from the Obama campaign: “No.”

    So, Obama has already told us that he wants to stop federal funding for crisis pregnancy centers, and that he wants to include funding for elective abortions in his proposed national health care system, and in Medicaid. There is an ideological consistency, and if that ideology becomes the ideology that emanates from the Oval Office, the result will be quite the opposite of a reduction in abortions.

    Kay Hart, you also wrote, “Abortions happened in this country before Roe v. Wade, though we’ll never know how many. Criminalizing abortions has never stopped abortions.”

    Actually, when the unborn child is protected by law, it does stop many abortions. Not all, but a great many. There is abundant evidence that the effect of making abortion on demand legal, and all that flows from legalization, greatly increases the number of abortions performed.

    In the years immediately after Roe v. Wade was handed down, as the modern “abortion industry” was being established and freestanding “abortion clinics” established across the nation, most states adopted requirements for reporting legal abortions, so we have a handle on how many legal abortions have been performed annually since Roe. The curve went up sharply for quite a number of years — for example, the number of legal reported abortions increased by about 75 percent just between 1974 and 1981, leveled off around 1.6 million for a number of years, and then began to drop to the current annual level of about 1.3 million. From this trajectory and from analysis of data from before Roe, researchers have come up with responsible ranges for the number of abortions that might have been performed annually in the U.S. prior to legalization, and it is a small fraction of the current figure.

    The effect of removing legal barriers to abortion, and of creating a situation in which abortion can be turned into a big business, results in a great increase in the number of abortions performed, with many people relying on abortion as a method of birth control. Even Stanley Henshaw, Ph.D., the longtime research director for the Alan Guttmacher Institute (closely linked to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the nation’s largest abortion provider) has written, “In most countries, it is common after abortion is legalized for abortion rates to rise sharply for several years, then stabilize, just as we have seen in the United States.”

    You also wrote that Poland “has one of the lowest abortion rates in the world.” This would be additional evidence for my case, because, while I am no expert on the subject, it is my understanding that abortion remains generally unlawful in Poland, under a law enacted in 1993. I understand that there are exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or for certain serious medical conditions. Last year the European Court of Human Rights awarded damages to a Polish woman who purportedly qualified under an exception in the law because of a serious medical condition but who was nevertheless unable to obtain an abortion. A news story summarizing the ruling said it “obliges all 46 member states of the Council of Europe to ensure abortions are available where they are legal,” but in most cases, they are not legal in Poland.

    Douglas Johnson
    Legislative Director
    National Right to Life Committee (NRLC)
    http://www.nrlc.org

  • Anonymous says:

    Let it be said out loudly, it is axiomatic that the issue of “pro-life” as political agenda, is pure stunt. The real agenda should be about “medical safety of an abortion”.The pro-life issue should be stricken and removed from political campaign agenda, because how it’s being used today, offers only divisive energies, that helps to foster a false option of one party and bitterness among voters.

    The total responsibility to, copulate, give time, moral support, and economic substance to a child, etc., is intrinsically a personal family matter. Sex is what brings the young one being aborted, so want to make sex a political agenda then? The pro-life issue is a disrespectful attacks on adults who for whatever reason chose not to continue a pregnancy, and no God has given the power to anyone to overrule that individual right.

    Furthermore, the proponents of the pro-life agenda, are first to start frivolous war against other nations, killing thousands of adults, it is then an overbearing act of hypocrisy on their part, to profess they’re “pro-life”. It’s instead, pro-disrespect and pro-death.

  • diane says:

    I am completely pro-life from natural conception to natural death.
    I am a Christian.
    I am a Democrat.
    I live in a Red County where people have openly and honestly questioned my faith and salvation because of my political preference.

    The phrase “the sanctity of life” has been used here, in these comments and I would like to add my 2 cents. Sanctity of life is far more reaching than just abortion. It includes universal health care, the environment, war, poverty and poverty alleviation. To simply vote ‘pro-life’ while ignoring the other major issues that define and maintain life is …well, it’s unChristian.

    One thing I have noticed in my conversations with pro-life Republicans is that none of them volunteer in local Right to Life chapters. Their definition of being pro-life is voting once every 4 years. It does NOT include volunteering for Bethany Christian Services, adoption agencies, new mom networks, abstinence programs or programs to keep kids off the streets. Are those organizations not all pro-life? Don’t they need your time? How can one claim to be pro-life but not actively pursue the preservation of life? This continues to perplex me.

    Abstinence programs are allowed in public schools. They need volunteers. Two days ago one of my students was shot and killed by a gang while walking down the street – what is the response of a pro-life Republican? What are they doing to preserve life in poor, under-resourced neighborhoods?

    For 20 out of the last 28 years we have had a Republican president. Each term I hear Republicans hold their breath, cross their fingers and say, “This is the time…this guy will overturn Roe V. Wade.” Yet I don’t see that we are any closer to making that a reality.

    Please, if you vote pro-life, step up to the plate and DO SOMETHING about it. Yes, it will require your personal time and energy but you will finally be preserving “the sanctity of life.”

  • Douglas Johnson says:

    Diane wrote: Each term I hear Republicans hold their breath, cross their fingers and say, “This is the time…this guy will overturn Roe V. Wade.” Yet I don’t see that we are any closer to making that a reality.

    Senator Joseph Biden said: “I strongly support Roe v. Wade. . .That’s why I led the fight to defeat Bork. Thank God he is not in the court or Roe v. Wade would be gone by now.” South Carolina Democratic debate, April 26, 2007.

    Senator Barack Obama said: “With one more vacancy on the Court, we could be looking at a majority hostile to a woman’s fundamental right to choose for the first time since Roe versus Wade, and that is what is at stake in this election.” Speech to Planned Parenthood Action Fund, July 17, 2007.

  • diane says:

    With all due respect Mr. Johnson, I was making a reference to how PEOPLE should work to make change and not rely on VOTING.

    To quote more stuff at me isn’t helpful and actually solidifies my thoughts about pro-life Republicans.

    It demonstrates that I was not heard.

  • Kate says:

    I have to agree with Diane that our faith must be met with action, just as it says in James.
    And like everyone else, I just wanted to add a few things. I think that abortion is wrong, and if Roe v Wade is overturned, that would be great. But the decision to have an abortion is a symptom of the bigger problem of our brokenness, and a law will not fix that. When I look at Christ’s example, I do not think of him campaigning or voting (not that these things are wrong). He was more concerned about real people, much to the dismay of Zealots… Romans 8 says, “through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.” The law is powerless to change hearts, and so if our brokenness cannot be manifested in abortion because of a law, it will show itself in another way. As Christians, we are called to get our hands dirty, and get to know and love women who are pregnant and want a way out. In fact, we should be loving them before they get to that point.
    That’s why I do not vote solely on my feelings about abortion. If Roe v Wade is overturned, and that child is born, what happens next? Will that child be treated well by parents who didn’t want him? Will she grow up in poverty with no hope for the future? Jesus came that we “might have life, and have it more abundantly,” and I think that this should be what Christians think of when they promote the sanctity of life. Our actions, more than our votes, should fight for everyone to understand the life that Jesus came to give.

  • Tim Miller says:

    It’s very easy to point out inconsistencies in the pro-life movement, no question. But many of us who are pro-life attempt to live out our convictions.

    I have friends who have adopted single mothers and helped them through the difficult process of beginning an independent life with their children. My inner-city church and pastor work tirelessly to support single moms (as well as married moms) who choose life — and we celebrate Life Sunday and participate in Life Chain.

    Randy Alcorn, who was referenced in a previous comment, was interviewed while participating in Life Chain (this Sunday, by the way). The reporter made this same accusation — that pro-lifers care about babies until they are born. Alcorn disagreed, citing his family’s actions in adopting a single mother, financially supporting orphans, and working to improve society in other ways. Then, he introduced the reporter to his friend, a pastor who had adopted 15 (I think, I may be 1 or two off) special needs children. The reporter wasn’t interested.

    Sure, many of us single-issue voters support McCain, but that’s not the whole story. It’s just one part of the larger battle which is changing the culture for life.

    I don’t want to attack anyone; I have friends who are Christians supporting Obama, and I don’t want this disagreement to hurt our ability to reach people with the life-giving gospel.

    However, I strongly believe that abortion is the defining moral issue of our time. That’s a judgment call, and you can disagree with it.

    If it’s true, then I must do everything in my power to stop it and to transform a culture that is bent on destroying itself.

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