Baptist. Clergy. Abortion advocate. Katey Zeh‘s ministry calling is, uh, unique. For several years Zeh has promoted abortions while working in various roles for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). Now an ordained minister, she is harnessing women of the Bible in an effort to revision abortion as holy.
During an intriguing interview with Baptist News Global, Zeh said the Biblical texts “are set in a very patriarchal context” but that “there is still a narrative of very strong biblical women who found ways to beat the odds and survive and beat oppression.” That supposed narrative is the foundation for her new book Women Rise Up: Sacred Stories of Resistance for Today’s Revolution.
Here’s some of what Zeh had to say about her view of Scripture during the interview:
I became very suspicious of the messaging I was getting as an adolescent, as a Christian and as a girl. I started questioning some of those evangelical messages and that led me to a more academic study of the Bible and the history of Christianity. It opened me up to the realization that Christianity had taken on many forms (beyond) what I had been taught. I hope my book is an invitation to ask some of those questions.
And when asked about her calling and career at RCRC, Zeh explained:
I really felt my call to ministry while volunteering at a reproductive health clinic that performed abortion services. It came from walking through a line of protesters, who assumed I was a patient, and experiencing the violence of people of faith. I thought, can I be someone who looks different from people of faith who were being violent, and be an advocate for reproductive rights? That was the moment I felt called to that work.
Zeh is a former member of the United Methodist Church (UMC) and spends a good chunk of the interview explaining her decision to leave Methodism. In the interview, Zeh explains that she departed the UMC in 2016 after she grew “increasingly concerned about its lack of recognition of women’s reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights.” Readers of this blog will recall that the 2016 UMC General Conference severed formal denominational agency ties between United Methodist Women and the General Board on Church and Society with RCRC (for which Zeh works) after a 35-year affiliation.
Today Zeh is an ordained Baptist minister who attends Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. Pullen is a predominately white, progressive congregation affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists, a fellowship of progressive Baptist Churches. I’m not surprised this is the Baptist church where a professional abortion activist landed. When browsing Pullen Memorial’s website, one gets a strong whiff of universalism, among other things.
For example, at the bottom of Pullen Memorial’s homepage is an invitation reading:
Our community welcomes all: The Certain and the Doubtful; The Excluded and the Included; Rich, Poor and In Between; Divorced, Partnered, Single and Widowed; Atheist, Agnostic, Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant, Islamic, Hindu, Jewish or Nothing; Heterosexual, Homosexual and Transgender; Black, White, Asian, Latino; Citizens and Guests. We celebrate unique gifts and embrace our challenges.
Pullen also “accepts the traditions and rituals of other faiths and does not require a person coming from another faith tradition to be re-baptized.” Quite conveniently, the church leaves membership expectations up to “each individual’s conscience.”
During her interview, Zeh nods towards Pullen Memorial’s seemingly universalist flare. She shares the story of visiting Pullen for the first time and feeling uncomfortable as a Methodist. The woman seated next to her said, “Well, honey, I’m Jewish.” Zhe recalled, “I said OK, if there are folks here from other faith traditions, this is for me.”
Zeh’s interview with Baptist News Global is titled “Inspired by the Women of Scripture, Baptist Minister Champions Reproductive Rights.” But the interview doesn’t actually tell readers how exactly the women of the Bible influence her abortion activism. You have to buy her book to find out, I guess. Curiosity will likely win out, and I will order a copy of Zeh’s book. Because I can’t for the life of me imagine how she will twist Scripture in such a way that her conclusion’s advance her pro-abortion activism.
When I look to stories of women throughout the pages of Scripture, I see only life.
Precious unborn life.
And restored life through—and only through—Jesus Christ.
Just need only look to Mary, the mother of Jesus, for pro-life inspiration in the Bible. An unmarried pregnant teenager who carried her son to term suffered through the pain of labor and delivery, and gave birth to Jesus, our Savior. Where are the “reproductive rights” and will to “beat oppression” lessons in Mary’s story?
It is not my intention to vilify Zeh with this blog post. Only to remind the Church that individuals are working in the name of Jesus to advance the unholiest of practices—murder. And to hopefully warn any naive twenty-something young woman, like I once was, who are unknowingly buying into unorthodox misleadings simply because they are offered by a professing Christian leader.
It is also my prayer for Zeh that her work as an ordained clergy abortion activist will one day soon be a part of her testimony of a former life restored through Christ.