The Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights (RCAR) convened a press conference at the Methodist Building in Washington, DC, in 1985 to condemn abortion clinic bombings, with Board of Church and Society chief Haviland Houston as lead spokesman. “We do not want to see abortion facilities misused or used for birth control,” he said. “But we deplore the use of violence by a movement that encourages bombing of women’s medical facilities.” [“Social Action Head Condemns Abortion Bombings”, Newscope (February 1, 1985)]. At RCAR’s behest, Baltimore-Washington Bishop Joseph Yeakel urged the Maryland legislature to approve abortion funding. He cited the official Methodist stance that urged making abortions available. [“Methodist Calls for Continued Abortion Aid”, Baltimore Sun (March 7, 1985) Page 1D].
Bishop William Boyd Grove, as Board of Church and Society president, declared in 1985: “Many Protestant and Jewish groups view abortion from a different perspective than the US Catholic Conference, and yet all of us hold in high respect the value of human life and do not take the question of abortion lightly. It is exactly the plurality of beliefs that leads us to the conviction that the abortion decision must remain with the individual to be made on the basis of conscience and religious principles, and free from government interference.” [“The Issue Is Not Abortion, But Discrimination”, Washington Post (July 13, 1985) Page A17]. (If such principles were applied to all situations in life, we would be justified in murdering someone who annoyed us or made life difficult. And we would expect the government to pay for the whole process without interfering. What hypocrisy!!) One does not support abortion on demand and yet claim to have high respect for the value of human life.
In 1986, a senior Board of Church and Society staffer and a Women’s Division official joined in a large pro-abortion rights demonstration in Washington, DC. These two Methodist officials also lobbied on Capitol Hill against “damaging” anti-abortion legislation. (I suppose that they had not yet gotten the word that politics did not belong in the church.) Bishops William Boyd Grove of West Virginia and Leontine Kelly of San Francisco campaigned in 1986 for restoring federal funding for abortions in cases of rape, incest and child abuse. [“UM Bishops Join Effort to Restore Abortion Funding for Rape Cases”, Newscope (August 15, 1986) Page 3]. In 1987, a Board of Church and Society staffer joined in a “celebration of religious and reproductive freedom” on Capitol Hill, explaining, “Abortion is a difficult decision, certainly a moral issue, but we need to trust that women can be moral decision makers.” She added, “To equate personhood with an unborn fetus and put those rights above those of a pregnant woman is to deny the personhood of the woman and to consider her body a baby machine.” [“Pro- and Anti-Choice Groups Mark Date of Abortion Ruling”, Newscope January 30, 1987) Page 3]. (Strange but God gave a baby ‘personhood” in the mother’s womb.)
The 1988 General Conference left virtually unchanged the church’s stance affirming the “legal option of abortion” when there are “tragic conflicts of life with life.” [The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1988 (Nashville: United Methodist Publishing House 1988) Pages 94-96]. The 1992 General Conference, meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, continued to approve the church’s abortion stance…but at least continued the disapproval of homosexual practice. [The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 1992 (Nashville: United Methodist Publishing House, 1992) Pages 91-92].
After the 1992 General Conference, Board of Church and Society chief Thom White Wolf Fassett emphasized that while delegates had only narrowly rejected quitting the RCAR, it had still affirmed the church’s “prayerfully pro-choice” stance by a margin of 2 to 1: “The United Methodist Church believes that abortion is a troubling moral decision and that women are moral decision makers.” [“Prayerfully Pro-Choice”, Washington Post (October 28, 1992) Page A24]. (Yes, they make a million such moral decisions every year.)
In 1993, the Board of Church and Society endorsed the RCAR’s call for a national health care plan with “full reproductive health services, including contraception, abortion, pre and post natal care, and voluntary sterilizations.” [“Do We Really Want to Fund Abortions?” Good News (November/December 1993) Page 30]. Later that year, the RCAR moved out of the Methodist Building. [“Abortion Rights Group Moves Out of Methodist Building”, Good News (March/April 1994) Page 39].
Board of Church and Society chief Thom W.W. Fassett joined with RCRC (formerly RCAR) again to urge abortion coverage in the “interest of economic justice for all women and their families.” [Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) statement dated March 14, 1994.]. He joined the RCRC in early 1995 to condemn pro-life groups for “dehumanizing rhetoric” that “encouraged violent and unstable individuals to harm God’s children.” The “open letter” was aimed at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and National Right to Life, among others. Fassett and the RCRC also asked the Catholic bishops to support a “moratorium on protests at family planning clinics.” [“Pro-choice Religious Leaders Call for Responsible Action, Language to End Violence”, United Methodist News Service (January 18, 1995) Pages 1-3]. (This paragraph alone offers up more ‘meat” for commentary than the foregoing presented information. Let me see if I got this right? Economic justice for women and their families can only be obtained by the right to ‘murder the unborn’? And the people who take a stand for the unborn…and for God’s love of all children both born and in the womb…are a ‘dehumanizing’ breed who are ‘violent and unstable’. Which of God’s children are they talking about harming? If ‘family planning’ was all the clinics did they might have a point to make, but when ‘murder of unborn human life’ is part of the equation then we have a whole new, different scenario. Might the church concentrate on the Bible’s expectation of a message to limit intercourse to married couples with the intent of taking responsibility for any human that may result?
In 1996, Fassett and Women’s Division official Lois Dauway joined with RCRC to commend President Clinton for vetoing legislation outlawing partial-birth abortion. East Pennsylvania Bishop Susan Morrison and Wesley Theological Seminary (cemetery) Dean M. Douglas Meeks also signed the commendation. “The government must not legislate, and thus impose, one religious views on all our citizens.” [“Religious Leaders Support President’s Veto of Abortion Ban”, United Methodist News Service (May 1, 1996) Pages 1-3]. (Weren’t Christians challenged to take the Word of God to all the world? Were they to give the world a choice of who and what to worship? These church leaders…and I use the term loosely…wanted no government interference but they wanted government money.)
The 1996 Central Pennsylvania Annual Conference urged President Clinton to sign a ban on partial-birth abortion. The clergywoman who introduced the resolution argued that “this late-term abortion procedure, which suctions the brain matter of an unborn child moments before birth” was extremist and merited church opposition.” [“Central Pennsylvania Conference Opposes ‘Partial-Birth Abortion'”, United Methodist News Service (September 10, 1996) Pages 1-2].
And while we are on the subject of abortion you might not realize the debt of gratitude we owe to that industry. More than 40 Covid-19 vaccines are currently being tested on humans, while another 90+ are being tested on animals. Five of the potential vaccines, some of which have already been approved, include aborted fetal cell lines. The COVID vaccines of AstraZeneca/Oxford University, CanSino Biologics/Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, and INOVIO Pharmaceuticals were derived from cell lines obtained from an aborted baby girl’s kidney. Johnson & Johnson/Janssen uses another cell line from an aborted baby and there are mixed reports about Moderna. Thousands of years ago parents took their babies to the edge of a volcano and threw them into the fiery pit to receive answers to their problems. Today we sacrifice our babies in abortion clinics to solve some of our problems.
Next week we will take a tour of our founders thoughts on the value of life and compare how the church in the founding days believed in the sanctity of life. Many of our founders who were accused of being deist found support for life in the Bible. Unfortunately today that is not always the case both in the character of some of our politicians and some of our church leadership.
“An idol is simply our attempt to reduce or design God to fit our current understanding of Him.” Dan Schaeffer for Our Daily Bread Ministries