President John Adams once wrote: "Facts can be stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." Never was a statement more true than with regard to the present issue of abortion and politics.

Planned Parenthood is a huge organization. A 2007 Wall Street Journal report said their budget now exceeds $1 billion. Read that again and let it soak in for a moment. Of this budget $336 million comes from the government, thus from our taxpayer monies. Planned Parenthood is responsible for helping one in four mothers have an abortion in the United States. Planned Parenthood also remains deeply involved in the politics of abortion. (If you think this issue is not political then you are fast asleep.)

Planned Parenthood has what they call an "Action Fund" and this fund will give $10 million to political campaigns this year. The goal is to elect pro-abortion leaders. The major effort is to elect Barack Obama president since they know the Supreme Court may have two openings in the next four years. This is why massive support goes to his campaign. These people know that the Illinois Senator has delivered for them 100% of the time.

What disturbs me is how Christians have become persuaded that this issue is no longer quite as important as they once thought it was. And younger Christians are particularly prone to not be passionate about the pro-life issue in recent studies. When I talk to them I see less and less interest in this subject.

As I listen to Christians I sense that the concern to change the culture of death to a culture of life has waned over the past ten years. One strong reason, at least among the young, is the influence of Wallis
people like Jim Wallis and Sojourners. Wallis has successfully caused many to see abortion as just one issue among many similar moral issues. This has been done by linking abortion to the war in Iraq. If they are both the same (morally), and then poverty is also placed on the same moral level as it has been, then abortion becomes a far less important issue. While I have serious doubts about the Iraq war, and while I believe in a society that is committed to lifting people out of poverty, I do not place abortion on the same level at all. For one thing infants in the womb can not speak for themselves or do anything to save themselves. They need us to care for them or they will die. Second, war is terrible but there are some wars that must be fought. Even a pacifist generally sees distinctions, at least a pacifist who holds to classical Christian ethics. Third, poverty is an important issue but poor people are not being systematically destroyed by their fellow human putting them to death. 

Part of the problem here is that evangelicals who have no ethical and moral authority in their lives can make up their own minds about this as they go along. Lacking in substantive ethical thinking most of them will then go with the flow. They do not have the resource of a deeply thought out ethical system that is rooted in classical Christianity. Thank God for the Roman Catholic Church, which sees this very differently. We could all stand to study their way of arguing for pro-life conclusions.

Barack Obama insists that he does not like all these abortions but he has never done a single thing, from what I can see, to stop one, not as a legislator or as a community activist. He even says that he wants to allow his own children to retain this choice if they are pregnant and have an unwanted child. And his voting record is consistent on this point. He is the most pro-choice candidate who has ever run for president, bar none. Hillary Clinton was far more nuanced and reasonable about abortion than Barack Obama has ever been. This is the man who said the question of when a human life begins was "above my pay grade," so I am not surprised at his anti-life political position.

CareNet, a wonderful pro-life organization that is doing a great deal of good in saving lives and helping mothers, is a striking alternative to Planned Parenthood. Do you know how much CareNet gets from the taxpayers for their work? Not one dime. The sad truth is that we Americans allow this to happen and as Christian people we do very little to protest it.

I am not convinced that the street protests and culture warriors for anti-abortion politics have made a great difference in the larger struggle, but at least they have tried. That is more than I can say for the overwhelming majority of Christians who have done nothing at all. I am not apocalyptic about this struggle, but I do think that for every life that is taken we are one step closer to destroying the moral fabric of our entire society.

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  1. James K October 5, 2008 at 8:07 am

    These days I have seen the picture on the TV screen about Sarah Pallin and her infant daughter, which was very impressive. Even though she knew the unborn baby will have Down’s syndrome she did not abort the bady. This is another side of Pro-life politician. Francis Schaffer wrote in his book “A time for anger” he talked about “Science, Medicine and the politics of Death”. We are living in the age of evangelical inferiority complex before advancing scientific development. FDA approved a new drug called “Plan B” that prevents unwanted pregnancy after sexual intercouse. As you said Planned Parenthood spent so much money to promote the culture of death in this “amoral” society. Science can be used for Pro life too. The scientific development made us to see the baby in the womb very vividly even with facial grimace and tiny limbs and sounds of heart beats etc.
    This is time for spiritual anger as well as time for prayer for future generation.

  2. Chris Criminger October 5, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Hi John,
    It looks right now like the most pro-choice, abortion affirming candidate is going to win the White House.
    I will not be voting for Obama but he has ran a more convincing campaign than John McCain. If John McCain loses, its not Palin’s fault or anybody else’s fault but John McCain’s own fault!
    Nor do I have any confidence in McCain if he somehow wins working with this current partisan Democrat led congress and Senate.
    I am probably voting for McCain (although I would rather have at the head of the ticket the less experienced Palin than McCain) but I can not wonder if McCain wins, what will he really do or even can do with how things politically are?
    I sometimes wonder if things might be better with Obama in there and the Republicans (and I pray conservative ones over the mamby pamby moderate ones) take back the House and Senate in 2010? (somehow Americans always vote in balancing power by putting opposing parties in together).
    In the end, I am praying for whoever our elected political leaders are but I am really tired of seeing both parties give us liberals and moderates in sheep clothing as middle of
    the road types or conservative (which none of them really are).
    It seems like *social* AND *fiscal* conservatives are becoming either marginalized or a dying breed in Washington.
    May God bring back unity and passion back into politics.

  3. Adam S October 5, 2008 at 3:16 pm

    I have real issue with your concluding comments. “I am not convinced that…have made a great difference.” I think that the fact that young evangelicals have lived through all of the street protests and other fights but have not seen a difference is a big reason that they don’t see abortion as a make or break issue. Not because it is not as important, but because there are many other issues that are also important, and more importantly, something can be done that will make a difference with them.
    If after 35 years we are not sure that what we have done has made any difference then why are we doing it.
    I am not going to equate any of the following issues, but I do think that they are moral issues that something can be done.
    Torture has been ignored by most of the evangelical church, in fact, evangelicals are more likely to support torture than any other group in the US. Hopefully both canidates will end torture.
    I disagree with your characterization of the Iraq war. Citizens of Iraq do not have a voice in US politics about how the war is fought and so US citizens must speak out. If the war is being fought either unjustly or in a way that causes more innocent deaths than necessary then that is a moral issue that should be spoken out against and one that will make a difference in the next four years.
    Crime and punishment is a moral issue when you understand that those that are in jail, about 70% come from father-less homes, about 80% read at a 3rd grade level or below and 60 to 70% of all crimes are related to drugs or alcohol (it was either a drug crime or the crime was committed while high or drunk.) Frankly both parties are weak in this one but it is still a moral issue that significant changes can be made.
    Education is a moral issue. As noted above with crime, lack of educational opportunity means that we are assisting to perpetuate poverty by not insisting that children be educated. Both parties are wrong in this one again, but both need to be brought together to work on ways to solve the problem because both sides have parts of the solution.
    I am pro-life and I really do want to see abortion ended. I don’t equate the above examples as equal with abortion, but I see them as real issues that can be solved and as long as Christians vote only on abortion, then the Republicans will take the votes and ignore the issue and the Democrats will not pay attention to the religious and work on real ways to minimize abortion.

  4. Patricia (Pollywog Creek) October 5, 2008 at 4:59 pm

    “What disturbs me is how Christians have become persuaded that this issue is no longer quite as important as they once thought it was.” My very conservative 17 year old daughter is finding this particularly frustrating in her conversations with voting-age friends who are both professing Christians and Obama supporters. They tell her that abortion is no longer an important issue.
    “Thank God for the Roman Catholic Church.” Amen! I am not Catholic, but I believe that Catholics have produced one of the best election year pro-life videos. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61wj4tJICcc

  5. Nick Morgan October 5, 2008 at 11:16 pm

    John, this article is all too true! And sadly, even though the Roman Catholic Church has clear teaching regarding the intrinsic evil of abortions and the need for all Catholics to support Pro-life legislation and candidates; many Roman Catholics, including our Legislators, are voting “Pro-choice”. This is a sad reality in our beloved Church. Former St Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke has stated that the Democratic Party is “moving toward becoming a `party of death'”. I hope all of us in the Church catholic wake up to this reality. Though I agree wholeheartedly that issues like war, poverty, AIDS, environment, etc. are issues that require serious reflection and concern from all who claim to follow Christ; Abortion and Embryonic Stem Cell research are intrinsicly evil and require no debate from anyone who wants to be honest with the facts of medical science as well as sound philosophy and Biblical theology. This election is probably the most significant one for our generation; and may God have mercy on us if we don’t take THIS issue more seriously! God bless!

  6. Gene Redlin October 6, 2008 at 9:26 am

    We are in an age when Abortion Clinics Brag about how much business they are doing.
    Judgment will come upon America even greater for this sin. When good is described as Evil and Evil is described as Good we are in an evil generation. A President Obama will only expand this evil by the election of Pro Abortion Judges. You have a choice. To vote in line with the word of God or to vote for evil. To me it’s that Black and White. I don’t see how any christian can see it any other way or frankly I doubt they are a believer in Jesus.
    Here’s what this news story said QUOTE:
    There is just one abortion business in the state of North Dakota and its director says she expects it to set a record this year for the number of abortions done. The Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo has been the subject of criticism in the past over bogus medical malpractice insurance and how abortion affects women.
    The abortion center has been doing abortions for just over ten years and did a record 1,358 abortions in 2003 and another 1,238 abortions last year.
    My comment, bragging about how many babies they murdered this year is “swift to shed innocent blood” in the Book I read.

  7. John March October 6, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    I’m a young evangelical. I’m pro-life, but not convinced republicans are the best pro-life option. Just because republicans give lip-service to being pro-life, I honestly don’t feel like they’ve really gone to bat to change things. Also, would you be willing to interact with the arguments and statistics presented here:
    I think young evangelicals aren’t moving away from republicans because they don’t care about abortion, but because they no longer feel like republicans are the only pro-life option.
    Thank you for all your thoughtful postings.

  8. John H. Armstrong October 6, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Thank you John for this very gracious interaction. I am quite familiar with the Guttmacher Institute and thus the “facts” posted on the Obama link you share in your post.
    All readers should know that the Guttmacher Institute exists to “advance sexual and reproductive health worldwide through research, policy analysis and public education.” This is their own statement, not mine. They exist to promote reproductive freedom in every way and thus want to keep all abortions legal and safe. They are a massive lobby group and advocacy organization, not a watchdog with no view on the outcomes. There are, therefore, numerous ways to refute their use of data and many pro-life groups have done so.
    To say that pro-life agendas have failed is to admit the truth. To say that we should change our approach seems apparent to me. But to argue for “safe, legal abortion” is, in the end, to keep a culture (under law) that promotes and allows the easy destruction of human life.
    No Christians in the historic church have embraced such an idea and one has to do serious contortions with ethics and the early church to not see that faithful Christians always opposed abortion and infanticide. This is not a “right wing” agenda. It is Christian.
    I do not think this election comes down to this single issue but it would take a great deal more to show me why I should vote for this candidate who actually spoke up for infanticide in my own state senate. (He was the only senator who did, arguing the Constitution would support it since it was a reversal to a pro-life stance!)
    What other pro-life option do we have in this election except for the Republican ticket? If you say a third party you will only help Obama who will then change the Supreme Court and the choice of federal judges. I am not endorsing Republicans but a moral, ethical choice for preserving the “least among us.” Politics, in the end, is not about ideals (entirely) but about pragmatism. A pro-choice Obama will have an immense impact upon the nation in the long run. I have seen this evolve since 1973 and I see nothing changing it.
    I go back to my original point. Young evangelicals do not have the “fire” for this issue like I do. I have lived with this for 35 years and remain more committed to ending legal abortions, even state by state if we can get that much, so long as I live. I think what happened is young evangelicals lost touch, in general, with the great traditions of confessional Christianity and thus have no solid foundation in many areas.

  9. sarah October 6, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    One of my friends had an abortion this year. Although several of my friends and I prayed for her and counseled her, she went through with the procedure. She was terrified of raising a child when the father was a guy she barely knew. She was terrified of the stigma and ostracization from her conservative colleagues, church, and neighbors, as a young unwed mother. She did not know how she would be able to support the child or continue on with her job or studies.
    I still have such sadness when I think about it. When I observe young women these days in society, I realized that the fight for abortion is viewed as a way to empower and liberate women. One woman professor I know has a photo of men from the Bush administration signing proposals to stop abortions- a symbol that she views as white rich men trying to control the lives of women in a form of oppression.
    My pastor once asked me to attend a planned parenthood meeting to get to know the people as a prayer that we can do something to stop the abortion efforts. One of their meetings was about providing escorts for scared girls who are going to the clinic, to shield them from abortion protesters. Seeing their fear of protesters as the “enemy” was eye-opening. I wonder how much of a deterrent these protesters are to abortion rates (the ones who yell and verbally harass women). They seem almost counterintuitive sometimes- pushing women even more.
    I feel that efforts like Carenet are exactly what women need for support and counseling. I wish my friend had known about organizations like this, and I really pray that Carenet can exceed Planned parenthood in popularity and recognizability.
    The movie Bella is a beautiful pro-life movie that I highly recommend.
    I also recommend this article in the NYTimes, which describes scientific evidence of fetuses feeling pain: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/10/magazine/10Fetal-t.html

  10. John H. Armstrong October 7, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Sarah writes one of the most important comments on this subject I have read. I totally agree with the arguments she makes and the tone of her post. Our churches have become places where we “hate” sinners and this has led to abortions, not stopped them. This is what I meant about losing this war for life. We must change our tactics if we ever hope to appeal to hurting people.

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