Friday, August 15, 2008

Which "evangelicals"?

With all due respect, who are you, Dr. Reynolds, to presume to speak for the entire evangelical community? And why did you waste my time with your long-winded pontification concerning "what evangelicals want" when you could have easily cut it by 90 percent or more? In the interest of helping others avoid my fate, let me boil your piece down to its essence:

"Evangelicals want to repeal Roe vs. Wade. That means you must vote for John McCain if you're genuinely evangelical."

All your blather about honesty, compassion, and church-state relations are nothing but a verbose smoke screen thrown up to mask the fact that you (and, as you so arrogantly claim, all evangelicals) couldn't care less about those issues. At best, they're entirely negotiable. All you really care about is ABORTION.

John Mark Reynolds: What Evangelicals Want - On Faith at
President Ronald Reagan summarized their [i.e. evangelical voters] views in Human Life Review:

"Abortion concerns not just the unborn child, it concerns every one of us. The English poet, John Donne, wrote: ' . . . any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.'"

We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life--the unborn--without diminishing the value of all human life.

Reagan also exposed a dirty secret of the culture of death. It will still be relevant to evangelicals and any other Christian deciding between Obama and McCain:

Some unborn children do survive the late-term abortions the Supreme Court has made legal. Is there any question that these victims of abortion deserve our attention and protection? Is there any question that those who don't survive were living human beings before they were killed?

Late-term abortions, especially when the baby survives, but is then killed by starvation, neglect, or suffocation, show once again the link between abortion and infanticide.

Fundamentally, evangelicals want to know of McCain or Obama: "What have you done to end this horror? How have you voted?"

The candidate who cannot give a good answer, Reagan's answer, to this question will not get the majority of evangelical votes and is not worthy of a single one of them.
Even that excerpt could have been trimmed considerably. But now that we've gotten to the heart of your moral philosophy, I wonder if I might ask you a few questions of my own:
  • Did you support war with Iraq in 2002 and 2003? Do you support that war today? If you answered "yes" to either of these questions, doesn't it follow that you do not, in fact "affirm the value of all human life regardless of race, age, ethnicity, perceived handicap, or social class"?
  • If you protest that this was a necessary and just war (even though it was never either of those things, as anyone who's been keeping up must now admit) and that, unlike abortion, it doesn't deliberately target "innocents", may I ask what difference the intent makes? Innocents - perhaps millions of them - have in fact died; that number undoubtedly includes many unborn children who died together with the mothers who carried them. It can be argued that abortion isn't performed for the purpose of taking an innocent life either; rather it is deemed legal in recognition of the fact that the mother is not just an incubator but is herself an autonomous human being. So if intent is the decisive factor, you have no moral authority to condemn politicians who do not oppose abortion rights. Unless you're an absolute pacifist.
  • Do you support the death penalty? If so, does it concern you that many innocent men and women may have been executed, wrongly, and that the continued practice of the death penalty is almost certain to result in the deaths of even more innocents? Would you argue for the unfortunate, regrettable necessity of killing a few innocents in order to protect the larger society? If so, your integrity and your logic are both twisting in the wind.
  • Doesn't your framing of the case against abortion belie the weakness of your argument? Otherwise, why would you focus on late term abortion and infanticide? Why refer to "the culture of death"? Talk about straw men. What about abortion in cases of rape or incest? What about medical - or psychological - emergencies? Is the "morning after" pill a no-no? Are early-term abortions acceptable? At what stage of fetal development should termination of an unwanted pregnancy be considered a crime? Who should be prosecuted if it is a crime? The doctor? Attending nurses? The mother? All of the above? This isn't a simple issue to be summed up in trite phrases full of emotion but empty of thought. Have you thought about any of these things?
An honest discussion of these and other questions would be a welcome change from the heated and unthinking denunciations typically launched by the religious right any time abortion is mentioned.

Yours Truly,

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