CT Blog

In Defense of Pro-Life ‘Hypocrisy’

Analogies between abortion and other “life issues” are shakier than we sometimes suppose.

Spend enough time arguing against abortion, and you’re certain to deal with accusations of hypocrisy and inconsistency. If you were really pro-life, critics say, there are other, outside-the-womb causes you would champion just as ardently.

In a 2004 interview with PBS host Bill Moyers, Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun and social activist, gave voice to this common complaint. “I do not believe,” she said, “that just because you’re opposed to abortion that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”

Does the pro-life movement have too narrow a focus? Recent Republican efforts to reform our health care laws have vaulted this question back into the spotlight. Opponents ripped the Republicans’ plans as depriving our most vulnerable citizens of health insurance coverage. And they wondered why pro-life conservatives in Congress would neglect going to bat for low-income women—those at greatest risk, in their desperation, of making an appointment with Planned Parenthood.

Both friends and foes are always urging pro-lifers to update their list of priorities. A genuine ally of unborn life, they might say, should also oppose the death penalty. Or lobby for restrictions on gun ownership. Or protest America’s wars. Or fight cutbacks to government programs. Or demand action on climate change. Some even lump campaigns against smoking ...

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The Year Science Took Over the Pro-Life Movement

Even the technology touted at 2018’s March for Life can divide the cause when it comes to abortion policy.

The March for Life has taken place each January in Washington for 45 years, rallying Christian organizations, Republican politicians, and thousands of demonstrators dedicated to a timeless message about the sanctity of life and the need to protect the unborn.

The annual event has always evoked spiritual and political arguments. But this year’s also looked to science and technology to bolster the cause.

President Donald Trump, who spoke to the march by video from the White House, announced that Monday’s Roe v. Wade anniversary would be declared National Sanctity of Life Day (as Republican presidents before him have done).

“Science continues to support and build the case for life,” his proclamation states, referencing the advent of more detailed sonograms and the new possibilities for procedures done in utero as important medical advances for the pro-life cause.

“Today, citizens throughout our great country are working for the cause of life and fighting for the unborn, driven by love and supported by both science and philosophy,” Trump wrote.

Following his remarks, the first-ever offered by video from a sitting president, House Speaker Paul Ryan shouted to a cheering crowd at the National Mall.

“Why is the pro-life movement on the rise? Because truth is on our side,” the Catholic lawmaker said. “Life begins at conception. Science is on our side!”

Bolstered by a young generation of pro-life millennials and new developments in prenatal treatment, advocates see themselves in a better position than ever to change minds on abortion. The Atlantic details this trend in an article out Friday that asks, “Does the pro-life movement have science on its side?”

Science came ...

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Overreach Is the Part of Obama’s Legacy That Trump Should Undo. And He Is.

HHS Announces New Conscience and Religious Freedom Division

Today, the Trump adminstration rolled back some Obama adminstration rules and changed how the government would approach religious and conscience objections.

The Washinton Post reported:

The document released describes an approach to conscience and religious protections that is significantly broader than current regulations. The number of entities that would be covered by the new rule is massive — as many as 745,000 hospitals, dentists offices, pharmacies, ambulance services and others — and the steps any entity must take to show it is in compliance is increased.

The Obama Overreach

The Obama administration, as many of us know, was seen as less-than-accommodating to individuals and groups with deeply-held religious convictions when those conflicted with new politics and laws. Instead of expanding opportunities for conscience-based objections, the Obama administration approach was one that stifled thoughtful conversation and prevented compromise. And, most importantly, they did not make appropriate accommodations for religious beliefs—picking unnecessary fights with groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Rather than seeking to find reasonable accommodation for sincerely held religious belief, the Obama administration consistently overreached with unhelpful mandates and more.

In response, a host of religious leaders—from Rick Warren to President Obama’s own former staffer Michael Wear—composed a letter in 2014 asking President Obama to rethink his practices. They affirmed the need to protect human dignity and advocate for just policies. They agreed that ridding our nation of discrimination was, in fact, a noble endeavor. Nevertheless, they asked that “an extension of protection for one ...

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It’s Official: Trump Turns HHS from Pro-Life Antagonist to Advocate

Department of Health and Human Services reverses Obama-era policies on Planned Parenthood funding.

The Trump administration continued to move toward pro-life policies and against Planned Parenthood with further guidance issued today by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The department has rescinded an Obama administration memo warning states against blocking Medicaid funding for providers that offered abortion. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) now consider that 2016 letter to have overstepped federal regulations; they have restored their position to allow states to regulate their programs within reasonable standards.

While federal funds cannot be used for abortions, Planned Parenthood reports that half of its patients use Medicaid to cover other services like birth control.

“Reinstating the pre-2016 standards frees up states to once again decide for themselves what reasonable standards they use to protect Medicaid programs and their beneficiaries,” said Charmaine Yoest, assistant HHS secretary for public affairs and former Americans United for Life president, according to The Hill.

“This is part of the Trump administration’s effort to roll back regulations the Obama administration put out to radically favor abortion.”

Last year, President Donald Trump signed a law that reversed an Obama-era policy barring states from withholding Title X funds for abortion clinics, and reinstated a ban on federal funding for organizations performing abortions abroad.

The Hill reported that Friday’s move further demonstrates the administration’s support for state efforts to ban Planned Parenthood from Medicaid programs, as Southern Baptists and other pro-life Christians have hoped for years. A Justice Department request in 2017 led abortion opponents to believe the ...

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Are Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Women Any Closer to Finding Common Ground?

A year after the first Women’s March, politics continue to splinter the women’s movement.

Last year’s record-setting Women’s March—filling Washington D.C. and hundreds of other cities with streams of pink hats and feminist placards—launched an important discussion about the place of pro-life and conservative women in the movement, after multiple women’s groups opposing abortion were barred from officially participating.

But a lot has changed in the year since President Donald Trump took office, particularly when it comes to women’s issues. In 2017, America saw women across industries, faith groups, and political persuasions speak out in an unprecedented way against the ongoing endemic of sexual harassment.

The issue proved sadly universal; the #MeToo movement prompted stories from “liberal” Hollywood to conservative Fox News, from “secular” Silicon Valley to Christian congregations, with the launch of #ChurchToo and #SilenceIsNotSpiritual hashtags.

The shared concern over abuse at the hands of men in power, now discussed with more openness and urgency, seems to have the potential to bring women together. But ahead of this upcoming Women’s March, the event maintains many of the political divides Americans have come to expect between women.

Though marches will still take place in Washington, New York, and at 250 other local affiliates, the main demonstration is being held Sunday in Las Vegas, marketed as a get-out-the-vote rally for women in swing states, with the tagline “Power to the Polls.” Adding to the political tension is that it falls on the very same weekend as the annual March for Life in Washington—the country’s largest demonstration against abortion and increasingly a destination for evangelical groups.

While public ...

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The Humble Leader

Lifeway Senior Vice President contributes to a new series

Leadership is often very humbling, and leadership is most dangerous when it ceases to be. Here is what I mean: Leadership is humbling because it is extremely challenging. Being a leader can be deeply sanctifying because humbling opportunities abound.

The messiness of life gets in the way of the vision leaders articulate. Plans rarely go exactly as they are outlined. And the daily burden of responsibility for caring for others is enormous. When one signs up, or is drafted, to be a leader, the person engages in a very humbling endeavor.

Leadership is most dangerous when it ceases to be humbling, when success comes to the leader. When a leader starts to thrive, when the Lord grants success, or when things go better than planned, the leader can easily drift toward pride.

And pride always precedes a downfall.

David, Israel’s second king and the man after God’s own heart, walked humbly with the Lord. As David led with a pure heart and skillful hands, the Lord granted him success. But like the king before him (Saul) and the kings after him (Uzziah), pride corrupted David’s heart.

When David asked who the beautiful woman was—the woman who lived in the house he was able to see from his roof, the woman he wanted more than he wanted his own integrity—he discovered she was married. One of his servants sheepishly asked, “Isn’t this the wife of Uriah?” David’s response was to send for her anyway. After all, David was king, and the king got whatever he wanted (2 Sam. 11).

Earlier in his life, David humbly asked God to keep him in the shadow of his wings, as he was grateful for the Lord’s provision of a cave for his residence (Ps. 57). But on the roof of the palace, David trusted himself ...

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Luis Palau Reveals Stage 4 Lung Cancer, Asks for Prayer

‘It would literally take a miracle,’ says renowned evangelist ready for heaven.

In a 12-minute YouTube video, international evangelist Luis Palau revealed yesterday that he has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

After Palau, 83, and his wife Patricia “had a super busy fall … traveling around the world sharing the Good News like they always do,” explained his son Kevin Palau, the evangelist returned from a long trip to the United Kingdom in December “with kind of a chest cold … that wouldn’t go away.”

“We finally got Dad to go into the doctor,” said Kevin, president and CEO of the Luis Palau Association. “And to our surprise, the early report we got, just before Christmas, was that there was some cancer in one of Dad’s lungs.”

A few days ago, the family learned that the cancer is in stage 4—the most advanced stage, which for lung cancer has (in general) a five-year survival rate of less than 10 percent.

“That’s the reality we are dealing with now,” said Kevin. “[We’re] praying about what that means. … Mostly we are asking for people’s prayers.”

“It was a shock,” said Luis. “I haven’t been in a hospital one night, except when I broke a bone back in 1984 after Mission to London.”

“The first thing you do, in my case, is cry. I think, ‘oh wow, I could be gone in a few months,’” said the senior Palau. But he doesn’t feel “panic or horror.”

“Many people are praying that the Lord would do a miracle,” he said. “It would literally take a miracle. Medically speaking … stage 4 is big time.”

On the ministry’s website, Palau wrote in a health update:

As we seek the best medical advice ...

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Why Ralph Winter’s Missions Mobilizer Is Up for Sale

Shift in global evangelism prompts downsizing of US Center for World Mission’s famous Pasadena property—but not all alumni are ready to say goodbye.

The late missiologist Ralph Winter envisioned a place to “awaken” a million evangelicals to the world’s unreached people groups. It took nearly 10 years of fundraising, and donors big and small, to pay off the $15 million property in Pasadena, California, that became the US Center for World Mission (now Frontier Ventures) and William Carey International University (WCIU).

More than four decades later, with the missions landscape evolving and the Southern California cost of living continuing to skyrocket, Frontier Ventures and the university are in a non-binding agreement to sell the majority of the property their forebears had rallied to buy.

Frontier Ventures president Fran Patt and WCIU president Kevin Higgins confirmed to CT that they’ve been in talks with a potential buyer for the past month. Up for sale are roughly 15 acres of campus, a 2.5-acre soccer field near the Frontier Ventures office building, and a yet-to-be-determined portion of surrounding property, which includes homes, dorm-style residences, and office space owned by WCIU.

The partner ministries plan to maintain a smaller footprint in Pasadena, keeping the Frontier Ventures building known as Hudson Taylor Hall and, at this point, at least half the homes they own. Patt and Higgins declined to discuss the estimated value of the property or the amount of the offer.

“There are still a number of challenges: we need to agree on all the exact details, and that will take time,” Higgins wrote in a blog post in December. “Even once we get to that agreement, there will be significant time needed as the buyer would need to secure their funding.”

The ministries’ leaders have considered selling off a portion of the property ...

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These Trump Advisers Want a Dreamers Deal Enough to Meet with Nancy Pelosi

Evangelicals join the push for protection for young immigrants.

Many evangelicals won’t let partisan divides keep them from rallying for immigration reform, particularly the urgent push for congressional action to allow Dreamers—who entered the US as kids—to remain in America.

Several pastors and members of Trump’s evangelical advisory board met Thursday with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who they cheered for her defense of young immigrants fighting for legal status.

A prominent Democrat in Congress, Pelosi also happens to rank among evangelicals most-disliked politicians; more than half (55%) of self-identified evangelicals had an unfavorable view of her in a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll.

Yet Trump adviser and National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) president Samuel Rodriguez (also a CT board member) told Pelosi today that “America is a better place because of your prophetic leadership” on immigration.

Two more evangelical advisers—Maryland pastor Harry Jackson and Southern Baptist minister Jay Strack—as well as two other NHCLC leaders also participated in the meeting in Washington with Pelosi, fellow religious leaders, and Dreamers themselves.

“We’re joined together in the spirit of bipartisanship, compelled by our faith, to protect our Dreamers,” the minority leader said in a press conference streamed on Facebook Live.

Currently, nearly 70 percent of evangelicals believe Dreamers should be allowed to stay in the country, with 49 percent supporting a path to citizenship and 20 percent believing they should become legal residents but not citizens, Politico/Morning Consult found. (Overall, 75 percent of registered voters want the Dreamers to stay.)

For weeks, there have been talks of immigration ...

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New HHS Division Defends Pro-Life Health Care Workers

Under Trump, federal policy keeps shifting away from abortion rights in favor of religious conscience protections.

Ahead of Friday’s annual March for Life, pro-life Christians celebrated new federal protections for health care workers who decline to administer procedures such as abortion, sterilization, or euthanasia on religious or moral grounds.

The Trump administration announced a new division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) dedicated to hearing complaints from those who face discrimination for refusal to accommodate services that violate their beliefs.

The new Conscience and Religious Freedom Division of the existing Office of Civil Rights (OCR) enforces existing laws designed to protect conscience rights, including new provisions under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that specifically allow providers and insurers to decline abortions and assisted suicide.

Thursday’s announcement continues the administration’s efforts to beef up federal protections for religious liberty, as President Trump laid out in a May 2017 executive order. In contrast, the Obama administration had rescinded conscience protections for health care workers, despite pushback from religious leaders.

“President Trump promised the American people that his administration would vigorously uphold the rights of conscience and religious freedom,” said acting HHS secretary Eric Hargan. “That promise is being kept today. The Founding Fathers knew that a nation that respects conscience rights is more diverse and more free, and OCR’s new division will help make that vision a reality.”

Evangelicals fighting for religious liberty have tried to resist efforts to confine expressions of faith to within church walls, and have pushed for greater protections for their beliefs in the workplace and public life—particularly ...

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God’s Message to #MeToo Victims and Perpetrators

Scripture offers a radical framework for understanding anger and forgiveness.

Young 20-somethings stood in line to speak with me after my workshop, “Is Christianity Good for Women?” They thanked me for tackling difficult passages in Scripture involving violence against women and asked me the expected questions about gender roles in marriage and the family. When I got to the third person in line—a young, beautiful girl, her hair falling in tousled waves—she bent closer and spoke in a low voice.

“What do you think about forgiveness?” she asked. “What role does that play in cases of sexual abuse and rape?” I suspected that she had a story of pain, betrayal, and shame. Although she didn’t tell me the full story that day (the line was long behind her), she did tearfully admit that the counsel offered to her had been to simply forgive the perpetrator. “I still feel angry,” she confessed. “Is that wrong?”

It’s one of the most important questions to ask, especially as the #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements carry us in their angry tides. It’s also an important question to ask when stories like Jules Woodson’s surface and members of Highpoint Church in Memphis stand in solidarity with her perpetrator.

When women suffer violence in the Scriptures, we see God’s own righteous—if also oblique—anger. Sometimes we see divine outrage in the demise of a character, as in the case of King David. I’m not thinking of the way he forcibly took Bathsheba into his bed, although that story, ending in the death of the baby, draws its own conclusions.

Instead, I’m thinking of his daughter, Tamar, who is raped by his son, Amnon (2 Sam 13). David’s anger is impotent and weak, and he visits no judgment on ...

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