Friday, July 17, 2009

New Sermon on the Church Web Site--the one about abortion

Now on the First Christian Church, Disciples of Christ of St. Joseph, MO web site is my June 7 sermon "A Rejection of Christian Terrorism." This was the sermon that I preached in response to the killing of Dr. George Tiller, a doctor who provided third-trimester abortions, at his church in Wichita, KS. In the sermon, I tried to make the point that the many issues surrounding abortion are complex rather than black and white as those on either extreme would have us believe. Because of this complexity, I argue, Christians should stay far away from positions that end up demonizing those with whom they disagree. Instead, Christians should be doing much more listening than speaking, caring than judging and certainly not resorting to violence.

The other point I was trying to make is that some of the same people who view Islam as a religion of hate because of the actions of a relatively few extremist may cheer on or at least not condemn the killing of George Tiller. If it is fair to call all Muslims terrorists, then would it not also be fair to say the same for Christians given the violence of extremists like the one who shot an unarmed man in cold blood while he was ushering at his church? I would, of course, say judging a religion by its most violent extremists is very unfair judgment indeed--whether Islam, Christianity or another religion is in question.

There are a few web resources that I made use of for this sermon that I'd like to share here, since there are so few resources for preaching on abortion other than the millions of web pages devoted to uncritical condemnations of everything from the destruction of an embryo to a third trimester abortion:

1. First, for a helpful (and disturbing) discussion of the rates of unlicensed abortions and mortality rates of women seeking them in countries with restrictive laws concerning abortion see the interview with Michelle Goldberg, author of The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, And The Future of the World, on the NPR program Fresh Air With Terry Gross.

2. I shared in the sermon about the blog post written the week after Tiller's murder by Frank Schaeffer, son of the late Frances Schaeffer--one of the architects of the Religious Right. The younger Schaeffer apologies for his part for helping to inflame the language of opponents of abortion rights. It's a rather remarkable piece of writing by a former leader in the Religious Right.

3. I've heard from conservative Christian friends the charge that Muslim religious leaders never condemn terrorism--a completely false charge, so since I made the comparison between Muslim and Christian terrorists and did my part to reject the violence of my religion's extremists, here is a helpful list of Muslim statements against terrorism, at the website of Charles Kurzman, professor at the University of North Carolina.

4. I also found very helpful the educational resources at the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice web site. I especially made use of Paul Simmons’ helpful discussion of the difference between “potentialities and actualities” in his article “Personhood, the Bible and the Abortion Debate,” in Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice Educational Series No. 3 on the RCRC web site. Simmons notes, “Logically, for instance, no one can deny the continuum from fertilization to maturity and adulthood; however, not every step on the continuum has the same value or constitutes the same entity.”

5. I also referenced the statement on abortion by my denomination, The Christian Church, Disciples of Christ, and noted its description of views that state "life begins at conception" as theological statements rather than scientific ones. The full text can be read on-line at the Disciples for Choice web site and at the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice web site. It's worth noting for those who are not DOC that this statement is not binding upon the denomination's churches or their members. It is only a position statement that all members of the DOC are free to disagree with.

Finally, although I did not mention it in my sermon, I found an article by Ed Knudson at Religion Dispatches to be very helpful. Knudson, a Lutheran minister (ELCA) well-studied on the issues surrounding abortion, offers an explanation to opponents of abortion rights who were astounded that a Christian could be providing abortions in the last term of pregnancy. Tiller was murdered while ushering on a Sunday morning at the Lutheran (ELCA) church he attended.

Grace and Peace,


P.S. I respectfully request that the anti-abortion folks who find their way to this blog and then leave comments telling me how both I and my church are going to hell, because we choose to at least entertain a point of view other than yours--keep your comments clean!!


Sonny Burnett said...

True, born-again, Spirit filled Christians do not destroy human life regardless of what stage it is in.

Anonymous said...

What Franky's piece is remarkable in its insincerity, revisionism, lies, and hypocrisy. He lied about repenting of his hateful rantings when he left the religious movement of his father. He did leave his father's movement to be sure to join the Orthodox. But in joining the Orthodox, he went on further rants against abortion. He did not change his stance on abortion for many years after leaving his father's movement and did not change his rhetoric either. If anything, it got worse.

He has always demonize people who disagrees with him. He has for decades been doing it to his parents, whether he was pro-lifer then or pro-choicer now, often misrepresenting what they say to belittle them.

His apology is fake. If it was real, he would be truthful and said he stayed with that rhetoric long after he left his dad's movement. But, no, he said he left and changed his ways- which is another lie. He left and demonized in the most hateful terms, evangelical Protestants, Catholics, his parents, abortionists, etc., from an Orthodox POV.

Basically, his "apology" is meant to win praises from folks on your side of the debate, while spitting on his parents' graves one more time (he never sees an opportunity to do that to his parents that he does not like, it seems, which highlights again his hypocrisy in continuing to accuse and condemn the pro-lifers, when he is basically blatantly still very much guilty of what he accused others of).

Read his other recent writings on the HP. All of them are meant to inflame the left against the right. He is self-serving in his apology while he knows he will get many free passes for his hateful rants against the right (especially his parents), which he used to be part of.

The bottom line is Franky, whether he was right or left, has pretty much been hateful in ways neither the most calm of the right or left never were. Conservatives disliked him for his hateful ways, regardless of who it was directed at, when he was conservative.

He is just using you to settle old scores with his enemies, most notably his parents. And yes, he did lie about his father. His father never advocated violence against abortionists.

On the other hand, Franky has written statements to Obama and other letters in HP advocating extremist harsh measures against conservatives.

So if someone try to kill or do indeed kill pro-lifers, does that make Franky responsible? It should. By his own logic, he is engaging in terroristic hate speech. And guess what? There has been plenty of death threats and attempted murders at pro-lifers the last month. Funny how the liberal media never mentions these things, whether recently or the last 36 years.

And by his own logic, any more late term abortion doctors get killed, Franky should be held responsible even for his letters in HP. Why? Even now he sees late term abortions as heinous. So I thought saying such things by his reasoning leads to abortion doctors who perform late term abortions getting killed?

See what I mean? Hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

Here is a better more honest way- Schaeffer needs to denounce his own church's stance on abortion, since the Orthodox faith also outright states abortion is murder. So while he carries on the banner of the Orthodox faith, which sees this the same way as evangelical and Catholic conservatives, he also demonizes those that agree with his own church in this and never once state his church is culprit which he accuses others outside his church of. Hardly, honest on his part.

So he needs to denounce his own church to show at least any form of honesty.

And more, he needs to turn himself into the police and be prosecuted. After all according to him, his activities of the past are terroristic that leads to abortion doctors getting murdered.

Want a bet that if the murdered abortionist doctors' families start suing him or prosecutors and police actually go after him as culprit, he will do a 180 degree spin and change his claims?

There are many many millions of pro-lifers in this country the last 36 years. Only 7 abortion doctors have been murdered, none til Tiller in the last 10 years. That makes it in 1 in 5 years in the whole USA. If the pro-life movement breeds such terrorism, how can the abortion doctor's profession be safer than many other professions in the USA? How can there be a 1 out of 250 year murder rate in that profession each state?

Anonymous said...

Since Roe v Wade, in 1973, 5 abortion doctors have been murdered.

45 MILLION unborn have been aborted.

Does 45 MILLION dead bother any of you even a LITTLE BIT?

Will Graham