A group of liberal clergy gathered at a Fort Worth, Texas abortion clinic to “bless” its staff and patients, sing “Hallelujah,” and support abortion as a woman’s “God-given right.”
The Texas Observer reported liberal clergy organized by the Religious Institute gathered last Thursday, November 9, to pray for God’s blessings over the abortion clinic and counter the narrative “Anti-abortion advocacy is often inextricably tied to religion.”
The pro-abortion prayer event was organized by Kentina Washington-Leapheart, a minister who earned her Master of Divinity degree from the United Methodist-affiliated Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and director of programs for reproductive justice and sexuality education at the Religious Institute.
“We’re trying say [the extreme right’s] narrative isn’t the only narrative related to faith,” Washington-Leapheart told the Texas Observer. “Women seeking an abortion are largely women of faith. They’re not having an abortion in spite of their faith, it’s in many ways informing the decision they make. … They have a God-given right to make decisions about their life.”
The Religious Institute is a Connecticut-based interfaith advocacy group co-founded by Unitarian Universalist Minister and sexologist Debra Haffner. The organization’s stated purpose is to advocate for “sexual health, education, and justice in faith communities and society.” The organization touts some 8,500 participating religious leaders from over 70 faith traditions.
The Religious Institute’s website provides clergy with “Scriptural reflections, sermon starters, and exegesis” that supposedly certify abortion and unorthodox Christian sexual ethics as reconciled by God. A quick search of “reproductive justice” issues in the website’s Revised Common Lectionary-Year B database revealed 28 Scripture verses purportedly affirming abortion as a “God-given right.”
For example, liberal clergy hoping to advance unrestricted abortion-on-demand on All Saints Day are offered a rather far-reaching exegesis for scriptures assigned that day in the lectionary: Isaiah 25:6-9, Psalm 24, Revelation 21:1-6, and John 11:32-44. Below is the accompanying “sermon starter”:
The readings for All Saints Day may be focused on the promise of the life to come, but they contain many resonances that hint at a better realm that can exist in the here and now. Isaiah describes an extravagant banquet on a mountain that ends the despair of “all peoples.” The psalm proclaims that “the earth’s is the Lord’s and all that is in it.” Revelation imagines a great city in which every tear will be wiped away and “mourning and crying and pain will be no more.” In the reading from John, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead and tells the crowd to “unbind him and let him go.” Just as Lazarus is raised and released in this earthly life, so too are the expansive visions in Isaiah and Revelation not otherworldly visions for a future reality but instead an encouragement to build flourishing societies now. The preacher on this day could show how one of the ways in which these societies could be built is by ensuring reproductive justice for all.
Such blatant support for abortion in the name of Christ is not wholly uncommon. The Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) has challenged denominational support for abortion rights over our 36-year history.
In July 2015, IRD Anglican Program Director Jeffrey Walton reported liberal Christian leaders praised Planned Parenthood for “doing God’s work.” The clergy were a part of the abortion giant’s Clergy Advocacy Board and included leaders from the United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church and American Baptist Church.
At the United Methodist 2016 General Conference, delegates voted to withdraw two of the denomination’s agencies from participation within the pro-abortion group Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). “In contrast to the United Methodist Church, RCRC dismisses the value of unborn human life. RCRC even promotes rituals to bless all the work of elective abortion clinics, describing aborting unborn children as always ‘holy work,’” commented John Lomperis, IRD’s UMAction director and an elected General Conference delegate.
Our Holy Scriptures include numerous passages expressly indicating the value of innocent human life, including personhood bestowed by God the Creator at the moment of conception. We pray the Lord reveal his truth to these liberal pro-abortion clergy. We pray they quickly reverse their false teachings grossly misleading vulnerable women and harming unborn children.
There is nothing “holy” about advancing the destruction of innocent baby girls and boys in utero as a “God-given right.” May the Lord have mercy.