May 30, 2012

Watch out for the Pro-Life Millennials

This last week I had the opportunity to hang out with about 50 young evangelicals. These young evangelicals qualify to be amongst that group of Millennials that we are supposed to be worried about. If I believe all the news reports and blogs, these young men and women are just itching for the chance to ditch their faith. They are supposed to be post-partisan and desperate to move beyond those divisive issues like abortion and gay marriage. Yet the more time I spend with Millennials the more I realize their passion for the pre-born likely  exceeds my own.

Don’t get me wrong, in many cases their support for the sanctity of life does not translate into automatic support for a political party, nor should it.

However, I find as the myth of neutrality gives way to the understanding that support for the pro-life position is fundamentally political (in the classical sense of the word), there is a willingness to accept the consequences that come with any political debate. They have already realized instinctively or through experience what David French noted recently,

“So, “post-partisan” Christians, please ponder this: First, as the price for your new path, are you willing to forego any effective voice at all for unborn children?  Are you willing to keep silent when the secular world demands your silence?  After all, that is the true price of non-partisanship — silence.”

Strangely, just as we are winning on the issue of Abortion, numerous “post partisan” young evangelicals leaders like Jonathan Merritt and Rachel Held Evans, have been calling for surrender in the culture war.  Claiming to be committedly pro-life, but demanding a “more nuanced” view, they are willing to engage as long as they can appease their friends on the Left by tacking on “Creation Care” or some other unrelated cause.  When abortion stands alone it is cast as the exclusive domain of the Religious Right. Jonathan and Rachel, have sadly joined the secularist vilification of culture warriors like Pat Robertson and James Dobson,  thereby undermining the real success of saving thousands of babies from certain death. Fortunately, many Millennials are ignoring this call to surrender.

While these pro-life Millennials aren’t making it onto CNN or MSNBC, they are being heard.  The evidence of this is found in two recent news events.  Last week, Gallop released a survey showing the support for abortion in the US is in decline.

“The 41% of Americans who now identify themselves as “pro-choice” is down from 47% last July and is one percentage point below the previous record low in Gallup trends, recorded in May 2009. Fifty percent now call themselves “pro-life,” one point shy of the record high, also from May 2009.”

Recent high profile pro-choice victories, such as having the Department of Justice sue States that defund Planned Parenthood and having thousands of pro-choice advocates leverage the Media and members of the Senate to force the Susan G. Komen Foundation to reaffirm their support for Planned Parenthood, have not rendered increased support for the pro-choice position.

The failure to turn these victories into pro-choice political support and the inability to stem the tide of laws passed to restrict abortions has led the retirement of Nancy Keenan, President of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL).  Stepping down at the end of the year, Keenan is a self-described member of the “postmenopausal militia” a group of feminist activist whose victory in Roe vs. Wade led to the death of 34 million unborn babies.  According to an exclusive report by Ezra Klein earlier this month,

“Keenan said she is leaving out of concern for the future of the pro-choice movement — and thinks she could be holding it back. In recent years, Keenan has worried about an “intensity gap” on abortion rights among millennials, which the group considers to be the generation of Americans born between 1980 and 1991. While most young, antiabortion voters see abortion as a crucial political issue, NARAL’s own internal research does not find similar passion among abortion-rights supporters. If the pro-choice movement is to successfully defend abortion rights, Keenan contends, it needs more young people in leadership roles, including hers.”

NARAL will no doubt find those young people who are willing to “defend abortion rights”, but they will be met with a greater number of young people who are willing to defend the pre-born.

Even though it seems with each new generation there is great fear and trepidation about the future of the Church there are always signs of hope.  We know the Lord promised that “the Gates of Hell shall not prevail” against his church.  In this one, as with every generation, we find men and women willing to trade the praise of men for the glory of the Lord.  These young men and women I met last week have chosen to fight for the unborn, for the sanctity of marriage, for the victims of abuse and oppression, and whatever else the Lord calls them too.  Encouragingly, they don’t fight in the vague name of “Social Justice”, but in the name of Jesus and for the sake of His kingdom. It is my pleasure to know them and fight with them.

8 Responses to Watch out for the Pro-Life Millennials

  1. Randall says:

    Interesting. You think this is “just at the point where you are winning” the abortion debate? Luke, you really have to get out more and talk to a wider sampling. Like women who aren’t evangelicals. Just a thought.

    • Luke Moon says:

      Randall, thanks for you comment. For what it is worth, I know people on all sides of the debate. The basis for people being pro-life, especially women, is not limited to evangelicals. My wife works with a young woman who is extremely pro-life and not religious at all. The basis for her is that her mom tried to abort her and failed.
      Her experience is hopefully unique, but there are many other reasons people chose to be pro-life.

  2. Caleb M says:

    Great write up Luke.

  3. […] Watch Out for Pro-Life Millennials Luke Moon, Juicy Ecumenism […]

  4. Reblogged this on CO and commented:
    “So, “post-partisan” Christians, please ponder this: First, as the price for your new path, are you willing to forego any effective voice at all for unborn children? Are you willing to keep silent when the secular world demands your silence? After all, that is the true price of non-partisanship — silence.”

  5. Peter says:

    “the myth of neutrality”
    After having read both your article and that of David French, I am not sure what you mean by this expression. As best I can tell, you mean for it to refer to young evangelicals who refer to themselves as “post-partisan”, but I don’t see how that definition (whether self-imposed or imputed by others) equates to any kind of neutrality, at least not on the issue of abortion itself. If you mean neutrality in regards to partisan politics, then neither you nor Mr. French make a very convincing case for making partisan politics the vehicle for pro-life advocacy. In fact, you yourself say “in many cases their support for the sanctity of life does not translate into automatic support for a political party, nor should it.” Mr. French does not, so far as I can tell, come out and say that being pro-life equates loyalty to a political party. I think what you and he may mean by “partisan” is the willingness to accept that anytime you take a public position on an issue of public dispute you are engaging in a political action and that you have to be prepared to accept the consequences that come with taking a stand. I think neither “partisan” nor “post-partisan” serve as helpful or accurate descriptions of what it means to be political in regards to abortion.

    This is not just semantics. I used to believe partisan politics was the way to get things done, but no longer do. I, like most people, I believe, I associate the term “partisan” with loyalty to a political party, particularly one of the two major parties. So when I hear you say “partisan” I read that as code for “you must be a Republican”, and not only do I reject that, I think that you are perpetuating an unhelpful conflation of the terms “partisan” and “political” that causes many people to define themselves as non-political even if they feel passionate about certain issues and are willing to act on that passion.

    It would be much more helpful to work at making a clear distinction between those two terms and focusing on the promotion of an understanding of politics in, as you put it, the classical sense. If the young men and women you describe are making sacrifices for the sake of the unborn, then they are being political and are accepting the consequences of being political, regardless of whether or not they themselves understand their actions in those terms.

    While I understand Mr. French’s wish that young evangelicals would show more respect for their elders, that does not equate to blind obedience or support. The pro-life movement needs to have room for internal disagreement and dissent as well as for different underlying philosophies and religious beliefs. Take, for example, the young woman that Luke Moon describes in his comment above who is pro-life but not religious. I think that the failure, which you identify, of the pro-choice movement to be able to leverage its political and judicial victories into greater public support is a sign that the larger cultural shift away from that movement is by itself having a profound effect.

    While the media do play a role in vilifying pro-life people, some of the movement’s “leaders” richly deserve it. No one held a gun to Pat Robertson’s head to force him to go on his own television show on his own network and declare that the earthquake in Haiti was divine retribution for some kind of satanic pact that the Haitian people had made. LIkewise, while there are many public officeholders and politicians who are very sincerely pro-life, there are also a good number of them who just make use of that label and the abortion issue as a political tool.

    • Luke Moon says:

      Peter, thanks for you analysis. The “myth of neutrality” is that once one takes the pro-life position seriously there is a clear understanding that there is not neutral position. In the real sense, it comes down to a choice of whether a baby will live or die. There are ways that one can participate in pro-life advocacy without voting for a Republican or Democrat, but laws on this issue are not insignificant. Look at the sex-selection abortion ban that was voted on in the House on Thursday. 12 Democrats voted for the ban, the rest voted against it. Part of the choice many pro-life Millennials are realizing is that one simply cannot ignore being involved in partisan politics because you don’t like everything the party stands for. Of course everyone has to make that choice, it is part of the growing up the French talks about.

  6. […] co-worker Luke Moon recently wrote about necessary culture wars, which tend to come under fire from the likes of Rachel Held Evans. I […]

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