The Truth About Pro-life Christians

by (@TheIRD) August 16, 2013
(Credit: Photos8.com)

(Credit: Photos8.com)

You have probably heard the story before: American pro-life Christians only care about human life before birth, and afterwards, they turn their backs on the child and mother in cold, Ayn Rand inspired insistence on self-sufficiency. The only thing that matters to these heartless hypocrites is making people take responsibility for their own poor decisions.

This cliche is spouted endlessly by pro-abortion activists frustrated by their primary opposition – Evangelical and Catholic Christians – but one doesn’t expect to find such flat stereotypes peddled in the pages of popular Christian publications. This week though, Relevant Magazine online published such an article, titled “Pro-life is More Than Anti-Abortion,” which makes serious accusations with no supporting evidence, that “the Church” has done no more than yell about abortion while abandoning women and children in need. The story is so common it is almost unworthy of response, but it does provide a good frame to highlight the reality of Christian responses to abortion in light of the wave of new regulations and abortion clinic closures.

The authors, Haley Henderson and Stephen Boyd assert that because Texas’s new regulations mean only five abortion providers will remain in the state, the resulting increase in “unsolicited [lives]” demands that “The Church needs to abandon the harsh rhetoric and manipulation that sways instead of secures. It needs to be prepared to offer help and options for women.” They claim “most Christians and church-goers would say—to the same people who choose to have their baby instead of turning to abortion—that they should take responsibility for their poor choices and not expect the government to provide for them … Ironically enough, the Church’s opposition to abortion has all too often resulted in the abandonment of several Biblical ideas; namely love, grace, compassion and humility.”

The authors write the law will save lives from “unsolicited death. [Which] is a very positive development. But it may also force children into an unsolicited life.” They continue: “There will be an increased risk for babies to be born to young mothers, teenagers and abusive homes. These are needs the Church must be ready to meet.”

Further, they write: “It’s easy to hold up a sign with a picture of a dead baby on it. It’s a lot harder to actually sympathize with a woman who got pregnant and has to keep her baby because there’s no abortion clinic nearby.”

Despite the cliche, Christians overwhelmingly do live out their pro-life convictions beyond merely spouting anti-abortion “rhetoric.” The largest adoption agency in the United States is Bethany Christian Services, which also offers foster care services and support for women with unplanned pregnancies. Religious Americans are also more likely to take in foster children. Recently an evangelical adoption movement has swelled throughout America, with conferences and summits drawing thousands of believers each year.

Additionally, pregnancy care centers (or crisis pregnancy centers) outnumber abortion clinics in the United States, and are usually run by Christian organizations. They do not abandon women the moment they give birth, but rather offer steady support and education for them. There are an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 of these centers throughout the US, with hundreds in Texas. Surely there is room for more outreach to women considering abortion, but it is factually wrong to claim all “the Church” does about abortion is shout and wave signs with bloody photos.

These examples barely scratch the surface, and say nothing of the countless untold stories from families and churches that have actively cared (not merely sympathized) for vulnerable women and children. Just this year, hundreds of people lived their pro-life convictions, offering at a moment’s notice to adopt a baby with Down syndrome to save the child from the parents’ plans to abort.

This is not to say things are perfect. There is always more work that can be done, and there are valid points of criticism concerning the strategy, focus, and message of the pro-life movement. Not all Christians or churches are consistently pro-life.

A consistently pro-life Christian cares deeply for babies and their mothers and fathers throughout their entire lifespan. In contrast, there is nothing “pro-life” about caring for an unborn child’s potentially poor “quality of life” and implying the alternative of death by abortion may be preferable to poverty.

The point of being “pro-life” is not to merely stop abortions in the abstract. Fighting for the unborn child’s right to life flows from a Christian’s conviction that God is the author of all life, and it is not for us humans to determine whose life is worth living. Life is inherently good and sacred, and the most vulnerable and weak are precious to God.

Relevant Magazine’s rant illustrates all the stereotypes and assumptions about pro-life Christians commonly parroted in secular publications. I expect this from a culture that accepts abortion as a given and emphasizes personal choice and autonomy as sacred values, thus can’t understand that there is any substance to pro-life beliefs beyond moralistic power grabs. But Christians writing on the subject should put thought and research before making such harsh accusations at the Church.


28 Responses to The Truth About Pro-life Christians

  1. Kamilla says:

    Thank-you, Kristin!

    Every time I run across that lie, I want to send the one telling it a copy of, “Who Really Cares?”. Arthur Brooks, and several others since, have shown that conservatives (like pro-lifers) give more in time, talent and treasure than liberals (Pro-lifers only care about babies before birth).

  2. John Baker says:

    Surely, there are Christians who oppose abortion who do so with love and compassion for mothers and their children. Surely, no matter how much the faithful might strive, there will be women and children whose needs are not met by society.

    However, the authors are not just repeating a defamatory cliche. There definitely is a part of the population who describe themselves as pro-life whose concerns seemingly begin and end with the birth of the child, who do in fact subscribe to the philosophy of Ayn Rand.

    I have seen many, many political commentators who have suggested that one’s morality consists entirely of how ardently one opposes abortion, to the total exclusion of any other issue. I have seen commentators who have suggested that a vote for a candidate of their preferred political party is the only moral one, and that anyone who disagrees or votes differently is bound for hell.

    In the recent presidential election, the Republican vice-presidential candidate cited his religious faith as the reason for his opposition for abortion. He also called for a reduction in social services for the poor, and claimed that this was consistent with the biblical call for concern for the poor. He also stated in the past that his inspiration for entering politics was reading the works of Ayn Rand. The congressman in question formerly made a practice of giving his staffers copies of Rand’s works as Christmas presents. His allegiance to Rand seemingly came to an end only recently, when he was running for vice president. It seems that his concern was not Rand’s contempt for charity and concern for others, but rather her atheism, which did not go over well with a significant portion of the electorate.

    The article in question may not apply to all well-meaning Christians, but it does address a problem of inconsistency which has existed and continues to exist. A fair argument can be made that Christians should be as visible and vocal about providing support to women who, for whatever reason, do not have abortions and their children. Christians should surely consider whether their views on specific legislation is consistent with their proscribed duty to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort the afflicted.

    If this message is one that offends Christians, it probably should.

    • Greg Paley says:

      It doesn’t offend us. We’re accustomed to nagging from the left. Read Ben Welliver’s comment below, he alludes to how liberals tell conservatives that if we oppose abortion, then we’re supposed to support all the kids that don’t get aborted. that’s really odd, I always had the feeling that the two people who produced the child ought to be the ones to support the child, but in the skewed thinking of the left, pro-lifers who had nothing to do with the child’s conception are stuck with raising it. Weird.

      • Jennifer Lea Akins says:

        So true. The point is to save lives, and then point to where they can get help. We ARE our brother’s keeper in THAT sense…But, I never hear soooo many tired arguments and excuses from every political facet or belief system. Look, you REALLY care about what goes on with these women? Go to a local Crisis Pregnancy Center or to your local 40 days for Life people and get the facts and talk to the people. There is truly more to saving a life. And, the governement only can “do” what the governement can do for the poor. It’s true that churches are failing, but that TOO is NO excuse do to your individual part. Why is it that we have the need to point at a “whole” than to do what we can that God says to do no matter what the outcome because (here’s a concept!) It’s right.
        I believe some are really good at praying and helping the unborn and also there are parts of the body that can go out to the homeless…etc This is ALL God’s work and it goes hand in hand. To seperate and make accusations and assumptions on helpers that do either one, is defeating the purpose: to establish the Kingdom of Heaven.
        Can you tell this stuff makes me absolutely batty???

    • Chris f. says:

      I am sorry but that is lame. I oppose abortion. I oppose government waste. I also don’t expect the government to be my brothers keeper. I open my wallet, I spend my time, I reach out my hand. There is quit obviously room for the government to shrink…and saying such doesn’t mean i want to eliminate all programs, but this blind assumption that government programs are helpful and the best way reflects the typical liberal response of not wanting to get their own hands dirty. The government will do it.

      Our country would be much better off with Paul Ryan as Vice President. Have you not noticed the all around mess Obama/Biden have led us into?

  3. Ben Welliver says:

    Something I often run into on blogs is the stupid claim that pro-lifers have the obligation to support the out-of-wedlock baby that the mother chooses not to abort. People stupid enough to make a claim like that certainly can’t be trusted to represent pro-lifers fairly, so naturally they have no interest in reporting things like the adoption of babies with Downs syndrome.

  4. stephen rhymer says:

    Actions speak louder than words. If the “pro life” activists spent as much time loudly proclaiming their belief that their “pro life” stance includes helping the poor, the sick, the homeless, the unclothed many of us outside their particular brand of activism and faith would see them as more than a one dimensional Christian.

    Instead, we see those committed to eliminating abortion at any cost while apparently doing nothing to help those already among the living.

    Many of the strident anti abortion legislators in Oklahoma spend as much time denying state monetary help to those in need as they do proposing all sorts of anti abortion legislation.

    If churches and those who attend them spent more time helping rather than heckling, we might be a lot father along in solving many of the basic problems our society has.

    Let’s see churches become more activist in their own communities, helping those closest to them.

    • Greg Paley says:

      So you’re saying that if we were really pro-life, we would work to ensure that as many people are on welfare? Interesting point of view there. What is the ultimate goal here – to get 90 percent of the people on welfare? 95? For the left, has the kingdom of God arrived on earth when 99 percent of the people are supported by the government? On a practical level, that does put quite a strain on the 1 percent who work and pay taxes, doesn’t it?

      Why is that when we protest abortion, we are “hecklers,” but whatever the left protests is a holy righteous cause? I just don’t see the defense of innocent life to be “heckling.”

    • Vince Talley says:

      The description “60s radical in a 19th century state” is all we needed to hear. We get it:
      Conservatives are bad.
      Liberals are good.
      The 1960s are long gone, and good riddance. Unfortunately, that supercilious self-righteousness of the Woodstock fossils still exists. We conservatives are still wondering: Why should we be preached to by the stoners who were rolling in the mud at Woodstock? Who endowed them with moral authority? We can look at lovely Detroit and see what happens when those people’s policies are put into practice.

    • Didaskalos says:

      Many churches are active.

      Helen Alvare writes:

      “. . .Religious groups also provide crucial services to needy mothers and infants. John Cardinal O’Connor, the late Archbishop of New York, famously pledged to assist any woman from anywhere experiencing a crisis pregnancy, and the current Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, recently renewed Cardinal O’Connor’s pledge. The Catholic Church—perhaps the single most influential pro-life institution in the United States—makes the largest financial, institutional and personnel commitments to charitable causes of any private source in the United States. These include AIDS ministry, health care, education, housing services, and care for the elderly, disabled, and immigrants. In 2004 alone, 562 Catholic hospitals treated over 85 million patients; Catholic elementary and high schools educated over 2 million students; Catholic colleges educated nearly 800,000 students; Catholic Charities served over eight-and-a-half million different individuals. In 2007, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development awarded nine million dollars in grants to reduce poverty. And in 2009, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network spent nearly five million dollars in services for impoverished immigrants.

      “The Catholic Church is far from the only pro-life religious group that assists the needy. At the Manhattan Bible Church, a pro-life church in New York since 1973, Pastor Bill Devlin and his congregation run a soup kitchen that has served over a million people and a K-8 school that has educated 90,000 needy students. Pastor Devlin and other church families have adopted scores of babies, and taken in scores of pregnant women, including some who were both drug-addicted and HIV positive. The church runs a one-hundred-and-fifty bed residential drug rehabilitation center and a prison ministry at Rikers Island. All told, the church runs some forty ministries, and all without a government dime.

      “No major pro-abortion group or institution has taken on a comparable commitment to vulnerable Americans.”

      http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2011/01/2380/ — “The Lazy Slander of the Pro-Life Cause”

    • rreactor says:

      I always respect an informed opinion, whether or not I agree. However your opinion is ill-informed, because as Ms. Rudolph points out, the Church and Christians are actively supportive of children, before they are born and after. We can always do more, but the enemy has recruited powerful forces to kill, steal and destroy. Sitting on the sidelines is no longer an option.

    • Duane D says:

      when you do your alms, be not as the hypocrites, crying in the streets (about their generosity) but do so in secret, not letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your Father, who knows all things may reward you openly.
      So you see my dears, if we clanged the gong to tell everyone how much we love and care we would be hypocrites.
      None-the-less, thank you so much Kristin for writing this! I despise the lie that my brothers and sisters don’t care, and pray for the liars who defame them.

  5. Cindy Evans says:

    Stephen said, “Actions speak louder than words,” and he is correct.

    Actions DO speak louder than words. Just because the media doesn’t cover the actions of millions of pro-life Christians (both as individuals and in groups) doesn’t mean those actions didn’t happen.

    The media is quick to cover pro-life actions that further their agenda (shooting of abortionists, for example) but they seldom cover actions/events which hurt their agenda: much of the Gosnell trial, Lila Rose’s undercover videos, individuals offering to adopt a Down Syndrome baby and thus saving him/her from abortion, CPCs’ clothing and parenting classes for women who have decided to carry their babies-to-term,individuals who “walk alongside” and mentor a woman who has decided to give birth for 2-3 years after the birth so she can get her life back together and raise the child, families who adopt and raise children the biological mother didn’t want [for whatever reason], etc. etc.

    The examples could go on for hours. Yes, actions do speak louder than words: just because the media doesn’t cover it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. The actions of the media in ignoring these life-affirming people and their actions also speaks volumes about the media’s agenda and complicity in the problem.

    • Ray Bannister says:

      Great comments. We need to soldier on, despite the obvious bias of the media, not to mention the undisguised hostility of the liberal churches.

  6. kferrer says:

    It is terribly disheartening to read about The Relevant Magazine article. It seems to me the writers of the article bought into secular propaganda about the pro-life movement without even bothing to investigate whether it is true. Had the writers done so, they would have discovered that the stereotype is not quite accurate. The is a defeat of the most profound kind in that, we, or at least many of us, have come to believe the lies our adversaries peddle about us.

  7. Karl Kroger says:

    It is disappointing to see IRD once again using the polarizing rhetoric of pro-abortion to refer to their pro-choice opponents. Please stop demonizing those you disagree with. Please stop toxifying the debate.

    • Ray Bannister says:

      “Detoxifying”? Pro-lifers have been accused of a “war against woman.” Hard to get more toxic than that, isn’t it?

      The Candler faculty obviously teaches its students to go out into the parishes and put those rebellious laity in their place. In case you didn’t notice, a lot of the rebellious laity found their place in another church.

      Sorry if pro-lifers offend you, Reverend. We’re not going away. If you claim to care for the marginalized and victimized, your attitude toward unborn human life does not show it.

    • Mike Bratton says:

      Karl, people who self-identify as “pro-choice” are nothing of the sort. The choices of adoption and parenting aren’t on the “pro-choice” list. They, and I presume you lump yourself in with that bilious group, are only interested in the “choice” of murdering a developing child.

      When those we disagree with argue for the viability (pardon the pun) of human sacrifice–known colloquially as abortion-on-demand–how much more demonizing can be done? How much more toxic can the debate be when one side advocates cutting developing children into bits and pieces, and even brings infanticide into their fold?

      Hold a position that isn’t demonic, Karl, and you won’t have to worry about being demonized.

  8. Jonathan says:

    Kristin,

    Bethany Christian Services facilitated 1,262 domestic adoptions in 2012 (source: http://www.bethany.org/assets/2012-Annual-Report.pdf). From my perspective, that’s hardly what I’d call “overwhelmingly living out pro-life convictions”.

    • Jennifer Lea Akins says:

      And, your point is??
      I am in the prolife movement and I can say that the falicy surrounding the mind or care of persons that are willing to pray, sacrifice their time and money to fund saving children and mothers from murder is commendable whether Christian or not. But, especially to the Christian, who wants to stop someone else from aborting (as most people with “those signs” have been on the table and have aborted their child or mutliple child’s deaths), should all the more recieve praise and support from it’s Christian community. The truth is, the Christian community needs to WAKE UP that there is help for these woman to be built up enough to care for the least of these.

    • Jaoni says:

      Jonathan, pulling one number out of a report dosn’t make you an expert on the workings of the entire agency. A friend of mine is a foster parent for babies being adopted through Bethany- she cares for the babies for a few weeks between the time that they are born an the time they can handed over to their adopted parents. From her perspective, the issue isn’t a lack of conviction- it’s the fact that there are a lot of adoptive parents waiting, and not the same number of babies coming through the agency. If you do any research on private domestic adoption, you’ll find out that there are long waiting lists and endless red tape (and thus expenses).

      My husband, kids and I are fostering through our county’s Family Services. And while I do get frustrated with the number of older kids in the system that are waiting for a safe and loving home that could be found in many churches, I am also experiencing first-hand how difficult it is to actually get to help the kids in the system.

      Leftist try to paint conservatives as wanting to completely do away with social services, and conservatives has thus far done a terrible job of communicating that we REALLY want- to make social services actually WORK and provide really help to those who do actually need it. When I am caring for a foster child who came to me with a mouth full of cavities and I still haven’t been able to get it taken care of after 5 months because Medicare has so many hoops for myself and the dentists to jump through, that is a failure. We want to help those who need it- the current system doesn’t do that.

      • Jonathan says:

        Jaoni, you’re right, those numbers don’t make me an expert, but I have good friends who work for Bethany, and in my professional life I collaborate closely with BCS on a number of projects, working together on child protection in developing countries. Another good friend is a documentary filmmaker who focuses on domestic & international adoption issues. That still doesn’t make me an expert, but by no means am I unfamiliar with the workings of the agency, or with domestic & international adoption.

        I’m not criticizing Bethany at all here, sorry if I gave that impression. My point is that when Kristin says that Bethany is the largest adoption agency in the country, we have to put that in the context of the absolute numbers, which are incredibly small compared to the level of need.

        I agree with you that there’s plenty of red tape, many hoops to jump through, many expenses, all of which drive the number of adoptions down, but let me put it this way instead: Is the number of adoptive families waiting to receive a child greater than, equal to, or less than the number of abortions each year? Because if it’s not the first or second option, then in my mind, you can’t claim that Christians are overwhelmingly committed to a culture of life that goes beyond simply prohibiting abortion.

        Are Christians lobbying for widepsread reform of the adoption and foster care systems? How many bills have been proposed in Congress or state legislatures that would make positive reforms there? Is that number greater than, equal to, or less than the number of bills restricting abortion?

        Kristin’s trying to refute the claim that the pro-life movement is pursuing a balanced approach to building a culture of life and ending abortion. All I’m saying is that her evidence isn’t convincing. A truly balanced approach will focus just as much on providing alternatives as it will on prohibition.

  9. Jennifer Lea Akins says:

    If every church had a prolife group in it, connecting people to adoption, parenting classes, etc. and/or referral to pregnancy centers, talks on sex and abstinence…We wouldn’t have the falicy that is going around that these ostracized, yet very active groups aren’t making strides and great efforts to save humans from death, and women from hurt, nor that they are not protecting them, providing aftercare (with love, support, and compassion) or evangelizing them to understand their intrinsic worth.
    I put my money where my mouth is, I donate so where I know lives are being saved. The talk away from this amongst the church needs to STOP NOW.

  10. Pierce Brantley says:

    While I agree with the sentiments of this article I’d have to agree that Relevant’s article was more on point. I was forced to hold signs on the side of the road growing up that said “abortion is murder” etc. The church and my mother both said it was better for a woman to die in child birth than to get help. The church’s that are pro-life do tend to be anti-abortion. They like the idea of judgement and its something we as a body need to work on. If all of the sudden we have to bring people into the church that we are used to yelling at it will be a culture shock for the ones yelling.

    • Valerie Hurst says:

      I’m sorry if yelling offends you, but sometimes a whisper isn’t effective. Unborn children are killed, legally, day after day. I don’t know how any Christian can consider that a minor thing, as it’s our duty to be pro-life (yes, that does mean, in practice, anti-abortion). Your remark about Christians hoping that women die in childbirth is nonsense, I’ve never heard any Christian say anything like that. The pro-abortion side always brings up “the health of the mother,” but that is just a dodge, very few abortions are done because the mother’s life is in danger, she’s aborting her baby because she doesn’t want to be bothered with it.
      Your comment about how Christians “like judgement” is very unfair. No, we don’t LIKE having to protest child-killing, and wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a culture that respected human life? I’d held a few pro-life signs in my day, and I can honestly say that there are things I’d rather be doing on a Saturday morning, but I was there protesting the clinics because what they’re doing is just plain evil. You call it “judgment,” I call it being a voice for innocent beings that have no voice of their own.
      It’s the easy path to conform to our culture. Jesus counseled us not to go along the crowd. Those who live in mortal fear that one of their secular friends will call them “judgmental” need to keep another Judge in mind. Going along with the crowd is not an option for people of faith.

      • Tim Vernon says:

        Unfortunately, the sentiments expressed by Brantley are typical of the younger churchgoers who are what I term EINOs (Evangelicals in name only). They are connected with churches that bear the label “evangelical,” but more often than not such churches are all style (lots and lots of that tedious “praise music”) and zero substance. The typical EINO is biblically illiterate and theologically illiterate, and EINO churches with their emphasis on music, theatrics, and “feel-good” sermons do nothing to give the worshippers a solid grounding in the Bible. The EINO probably couldn’t name even three of the Ten Commandments, but, alas, he definitely knows the Eleventh Commandment, which is “Don’t do anything to make your unchurched buddies think you are `judgmental.’” This is the one command that they take seriously. For this reason, I’m always skeptical when I hear that “evangelical churches are growing,” because people can attend these churches for years and know nothing of the gospel and the demands it makes on believers. I feel sorry for these people because their constant interaction with their peers via texting and Facebook means they are constantly checking their peer pressure, and in all of this God gets crowded out. How do we reach that generation and make them understand that God doesn’t care if we are “cool” or that being true to Him will often require us to take stands that some people are inevitably going to call “judgmental”? We face a crisis on two fronts – some people drop out of church, others stay in church physically but drop out spiritually, seeing the church as just a place for socializing.

        A book called Raised Right is one ex-Christian woman’s story about her embarrassment at being from an actively pro-life family. After leaving home she turned against her family and faith because in the secular circles she now moves in, being pro-life is regarded as Neanderthal. While I can sympathize with people who are trying to put their past behind them, those people need to understand that not all Christians are embarrassed at being pro-life.

  11. Jeff says:

    Perhaps after reading the Relevant article and this post and the comments, it would serve readers well to read this post too before adding any additional comments. http://soulation.org/jonalynblog/2013/08/abortion-re-visited.html

  12. Jacob says:

    I’m pro choice because most people are morons. Morons make more morons.

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