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!!