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December 03, 2008

Life and Marriage (Part 2)

Why They Matter

In yesterday's post, I addressed the first of the three most common reasons offered for why Christians ought to abandon any public posturing against abortion and gay marriage.

Today we look at the second reason, that these issues make us pawns of the Republican party, who really care nothing about the issues. As the email I mentioned yesterday put it,

I recently heard a radio program hosted by this organization that was basically a campaign for the Republican Party because they are against gay marriage and abortion. While I too believe that those things are wrong I must tell you that I AM SICK AND TIRED of people who push for the Republican Party to get into office for two reasons and two reasons only: gay marriage and abortion.

There are so many assumptions being made here, it is hard to know where to begin. First, it is assumed that anyone who supports bans on gay marriage is in a campaign for the Republican party. This, of course, is flatly untrue, especially in California where a majority of African American voters supported Proposition 8 and voted for Barack Obama. This, of course, only proved what numerous polls have showed about African Americans across the country, namely that they are more socially conservative than whites on the marriage issue. (I imagine that the silly, offensive claim that this issue is comparable to the black civil rights issue doesn't quite translate, either. Gay is not the new black. . .) To say abortion is a republican-only issue is also untrue, as it ignores the many, many pro-life Democrats.

Second, it is assumed that these are Republican, not Christian, positions to take. This is not only not true, it also shows a thorough ignorance of church history. The church, from the beginning, has spoken out against abortion (a stance that is clear in "The Didache," a document of church practice that dates from the 1st century A.D.) and in support of the traditional view of family (a stance that is clear in nearly all of Paul's letters).

Of course, history also demonstrates why the traditional family is important. In fact, there are few social institutions whose social impact have been more thoroughly studied. Without exception, no civilization has ever survived the deterioration of the family. See, for example, the work of British anthropologist Joseph Unwin, or founder of Harvard's sociology department Pitirim Sorokin's The Crisis of Our Age, or University of Chicago professor Linda Waite, or Rutgers University's National Marriage Project.

(I don't blame our emailer for this mistake, by the way. As a typical Christian in America, she has had little to no access to any real instruction in history, much less church history in particular. We are abysmal at teaching church history in the evangelical world. This is one of the main reasons, for better or worse, for the growing exodus of younger evangelicals to Anglicanism, Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and the Emergent Church.)

Finally, I must address another claim I heard recently, though this time by a friend and former colleague.

"I think a side note is that I don't consider the Republican Party to be deeply committed to pro-life. If they were, when they had a Republican president, a Republican Senate and a Republican House they would have in fact done something about it and they didn't, which shows that it's a red herring to whip evangelicals in line to their candidacy and it is not an issue that they really care about because they don't do it, they just speak it."

This was said in a forum where the speaker publicly endorsed Obama. As an American, and a friend, I fully support his right to vote for whomever he pleases. I must not, however, let this statement stand unchallenged.

Of course, it is a fallacy to suggest that because Republicans did nothing about the abortion issue, one should vote for the Democrats (especially considering Obama's ultra-liberal voting record on the issue). Still, that aside, it is simply not true that the Bush administration, with the Republican congress, did nothing for the pro-life cause.

My plan was to write a full refutation of this, but another friend and colleague beat me to it. So, here is the list of 25 things that were done by Bush and Congress for the pro-life cause, compiled by my friend, Jeff Myers:

  1. At the beginning of his presidency, President Bush announced that he would veto pro-abortion legislation. This ground many pro-abortion efforts to a halt.
  2. Congress passed and the president signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
  3. The president appointed Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. The new court upheld the federal partial-birth abortion ban by a 5-4 decision.
  4. President Bush issued an executive order banning the use of new lines of embryonic stem cells in federal research.
  5. Congress passed and the president signed the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act, which made it a federal crime not to treat babies who survive abortion.
  6. Congress passed and the president signed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act.
  7. Congress reinstated the Mexico City Policy that bars foreign aid funding to groups that perform or advocate for abortions.
  8. Congress passed and the president signed the Human Cloning Ban and Congressional Republicans stood against a phony ban on human cloning that would have actually permitted it.
  9. Congress passed and the president signed the Child Custody Protection Act.
  10. Congress passed and the president signed the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act.
  11. The House of Representatives passed the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act.
  12. Congress cut off funding for abortion in military medical facilities.
  13. Congress cut off funding for the United Nations Population Fund because it was involved in China's coercive population control program.
  14. Congress cut off abortion funding in federal prisons.
  15. The president instructed all U.N. representatives to state, at every occasion possible, that the United States does not support an international right to abortion.
  16. Congress and the President supported the federal court review of the Florida court order to withhold nutrients and fluids from Terri Schiavo.
  17. Republicans in Congress supported a 2007 effort to deny federal family-planning funds to Planned Parenthood.
  18. President Bush promoted, from the White House, a campaign for public awareness of adoption options.
  19. The White House under President Bush established a federal website that served as a clearinghouse for adoption options.
  20. President Bush increased the tax credit for adoption expenses from $5,000 to $10,000.
  21. President Bush annually declared Sanctity of Human Life Day.
  22. The White House issued a federal regulation allowing states to include pre-natal care health insurance for poor children.
  23. President Bush dramatically increased federal funding for abstinence education.
  24. President Bush encouraged state efforts, spearheaded by Republicans, to pass laws making adoption easier.
  25. Key Republicans authored the Republican Party Platform which stated, "Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed."

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