In the past week I have been unsubscribing from a number of email sources to which I had never subscribed in the first place. I receive regular missives, sometimes a deluge, from evangelical and fundamentalist enterprises in the United States which rally the faithful to various Christian causes. I find most of them unsettling, more rooted in tribalism, patriotism and even white supremacy than the gospel of Jesus Christ. I decided that they were annoying enough and toxic enough that I needed to rid my inbox of their messages, although I'm discovering that they'll a challenge to vanquish.
I have not eliminated a couple of sources which are revealing about the right-wing Christian obsession with abortion in the States. You may be aware that the historic Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision which made abortion legal in the US nearly 50 years ago is being challenged by restrictive abortion legislation in a number of States and there are growing calls for it to be struck down by the current Court, which is very conservative in its membership.
Tellingly, states where the laws are prohibitive in order to supposedly protect the sanctity of life often have the highest rates of infant mortality, the poorest public health care, and lousy education systems and social services. It's often white, male legislators who pass these laws and it seems that the US is creeping back toward a darker, misogynistic time. Some Roman Catholic bishops have called for President Biden, a practicing Catholic, to be prohibited from receiving the eucharist because he supports Roe v Wade.
Journalist and now Anglican priest, Michael Coren, has pointed out often, including in his new book, The Rebel Christ, that Jesus said nothing about abortion, nor did the apostle Paul. And that into the 1960's evangelicals had a far more measured outlook on abortion. In a The Walrus article last Fall Coren quoted a United Methodist pastor in the States who came under attack for these observations:
He said that the “unborn” are a very convenient group to organize around because they don’t make any demands of you and they’re not morally complicated—unlike those in prison, those with addictions, or those trapped in poverty. “You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe.”
To give you a Canadian context, the Supreme Court has never declared abortion a constitutional right but in 1988 offered a decision which essentially legalized it. Abortion was decriminalized a couple of decades before that decision but the parameters were unclear.
There are groups which are largely religiously motivated in Canada which attempt to resurrect the abortion debate and a small number of Conservative MP's won't let this go. Former Conservative leader Andrew Scheer was particularly mealy-mouthed on the subject and it was a factor in his losing an election and his job.
Why am I writing about this today? There will be a March for Life rally in Washington DC in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington DC. The emails have been flowing, calling on people to gather from across the nation.
I'll say again that I don't "believe" in abortion as a tenet of my Christian faith. We've had many discussions in our household about this through the years and attempted to be nuanced and thoughtful. I do believe in the right of women to make reproductive choices and that the sanctity of life includes the health and wellbeing of women, so abortion must be a legal option. Let people choose according to their conscience and convictions.
They are requests for prayer for the outcome of today's rally and I would invite the same, but with a different outcome than organizers are hoping for.
The other day I wrote in my Groundling blog about the dearth of hymns celebrating the Creator's gift of Winter. Well, seek and you shall find, knock and the keyboard cover shall be opened! Take a look at today's Groundling offering: