by pastorj; originally published mid-2004
I think we are overlooking the elephant in the room when it comes to this question… While there are certainly other issues separating the evangelical right from the Democratic party, the abortion issue seems like the deal breaker to me.
Jim Wallis, editor of Sojournors magazine, wrote a very insightful editorial in a recent issue about whether or not there is room for Pro-Life Democrats in the Democratic Party. He discussed how abortion was just one of the “sanctity of life” issues that socially active evangelicals and Catholics cared about — others are the death penalty, human rights issues, global poverty and AIDS,education, etc. All of these other issues have strong representation in the Democratic party. They are what make me a Democrat. Now I understand that Democrats are the pro-choice party — that is a very important part of their message and witness. But is there a way to remain pro-choice as a party — and still make room for those moderate evangelicals who would not see abortion criminalized — and yet would fight fiercely to lower the number of abortions in our country. Jim Wallis thinks so.
His recommendation: remain pro-choice–but then, rather than just using the abortion issue as a litmus test every four years (as both the Republicans and Democrats have done) actually try to decrease the numbers through education, contraception, new jobs, resouces for pregnant woman, and incentives for adoption. Make the choice a real choice so that women can choose something other than abortion. These kind of programs might even open up dialogue across the aisle with moderate Republicans–and we might actually do some good around this issue rather than just stagnate in the current impass.
Here is a wonderful statistic concerning this issue that I recently heard from my family practice physician. There have been studies around the world concerning what actually slows the abortion/unwanted pregnancy rate. I will have to ask her for the citation. She said that what they have found is that contraception and ad campaigns have not slowed the numbers. Sex education has not slowed the numbers. Abstinence campaigns have not slowed the numbers. The only things that have been statistically proven to lower abortion/unwanted pregnancy rates are higher education for high school girls and small start-up business loans for women. Her point — when girls feel like they have something to lose they make better choices.
Now, wouldn’t it be interesting to hear the Democrats’ call for better jobs, better public education, a living wage, etc. cast in Pro-life terms??? It certainly would uncover the hypocrisy on the right (i.e. wanting all babies to be born but then refusing to invest in their future through cuts to programs like Head-Start, etc.)
I, for one, do not want to see abortion made illegal. But I do believe that every abortion is a tragedy. The argument that the rights of a fetus should have no bearing on our decision-making process seems a bit disingenuos to me. A pregnant woman whose unborn fetus was harmed by pollutants in the environment would be outraged at the harm to her child–and rightfully so. I just don’t believe we should legislate this one. The Democrats have it right that change will not come (in any just way) through legal means. Individuals have to change–our economy has to change–our education system has to change–for true change to occur.
I, however, still refer to myself as Pro-Life. I do so because when the term was first coined (before it was hi-jacked by the religious right) it was not just about abortion. It was about health care and human rights, it was about ending poverty and providing education. It was about the sanctity of every human life–and treating each person with dignity. Giving each human a true chance at a future and a place at our collective table. It was for so many things that the Democrats have stood for for so many years. I am an evangelical. I am a Democrat. Is there room in this party for me?
thanks to UMC pastor Rev. Jerusha Neal, “pastorj”
Here are comments added to this article in 2004
I am a staunch Democrat, and believe there are probably many more pro-life Christians out there who have not been hood-winked by the hypocrisy of evangelical Republicans. If only Christians would engage their brains. Our mandate to help widows and children (which in my mind includes abandoned mothers) is far clearer in the Bible than our mandate to legislate marriage or morality. If one would live morally one should be willing to be taxed to assist the poor, to be taxed to promote education about the advantages of adoption, to be taxed to establish programs that lift women out of poverty. Pure Capitalism is not consistent with Christianity.
Furthermore, Chrisitianity does NOT support the hypocrisy that has caused the situation in Iraq which has opened up more widespread rape and murder of women and children than likely happened under Saddam. If we were truly Christian wouldn’t we find ways to practice loving our enemies?
Kimberlea Johnson | 11.03.04 |
The decmocratic party is hostile towards Christianity… I appreciate you for being pro-life but the democratic party is not going to change for you.
PleaseThink | 10.28.04 |
I hope that there’s room for you, because I need a seat at the table, also.
signed,evangelical Christian and passionate democrat
Anonymous | 08.12.04 |