Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Abortion is Not a Religious Issue

[Today's post is by Christian pro-lifer Sean Sullivan. It was originally posted on the Students for Life of Michigan blog and is reprinted with permission.]

In a recent editorial titled “Abortion Focus Will Cost GOP Michigan,” esteemed writer Nolan Finley argued that the abortion issue should be avoided by Republicans and should be relegated to religious groups.

He writes, “If some Republicans see ending abortion as their main mission, they should get out of politics and join a religious group, where they can concentrate on changing hearts instead of laws.”

I completely disagree. And here’s why. In its most basic form, the role of government is to uphold justice. Abortion, while certainly a religious issue, is also an issue of justice.

The government has laws prohibiting murder. Murder is certainly an issue opposed by religious groups but it does not make it a purely religious issue. It is an issue for which both religious and non-religious people can rally behind and pursue justice.

However, when murder is convenient for a large number of people and its impact is minimal, then murder/abortion is allowed. The child’s death is not felt by relatives or family or friends who have never gotten to know the child, thus making the emotional devastation of a death more confined.

Abortion is supported because it makes some people’s lives easier at the expense of a people group (small children) who cannot advocate on their own behalf.

How incredibly selfish and unjust!

Two hundred years ago, William Wilberforce, a member of the British Parliament, fought to abolish slavery. While certainly motivated by his religious convictions, he recognized it as an issue demanding justice for those enslaved.

Through “back door” tactics and laws, he managed to abolish slavery in Great Britain 31 years before Lincoln signed the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in America.

Slavery was both a religious issue and an issue of justice for an oppressed people group. Abortion is no different though perhaps more dire since it is always a choice between life and death.

People today who accuse those opposed to abortion of establishing religion make one of two potential mistakes: Either they think that the separation of church and state is actually something in the Constitution when it is not, or they think that what the Constitution does say about establishing religion is in some way related to the abortion topic when it is not.

Yes, religious people oppose abortion. We think it is morally wrong, but we also think adultery is wrong and taking God’s name in vain is wrong. We aren't pushing for laws regarding those things since they are religious issues and between mankind and God.  Abortion is more than a religious issue. It is an issue of justice for children and we oppose it on those grounds.

In conclusion, I think it is great that some Republicans see ending abortion as their main mission. They are champions of justice. Not religion.


Clinton Wilcox said...

Excellent post. I'm starting to hear "abortion is a religious issue" so much from pro-choice people, and that silly claim responded to so often by pro-life people, that I'm starting to think that they're really just being deliberately dishonest to rally supporters.
Though I disagree that adultery is only a "religious issue." We don't pursue laws against it because it's not really feasible to make laws against it. But not only does adultery break a contract (the marriage contract), but it's also an issue of morality that even the non-religious can oppose.

Melissa Hunter-Kilmer said...

Thank you! That is *exactly* what I think! It is a civil rights issue, and that trumps its status as a religious one.

If abortion were solely a religious issue, and if (for example) the Catholic Church was trying to change society in accordance with its values, then Catholics would be trying to change divorce laws. They aren't. Nobody is even thinking about it. Divorce is a civil matter. Moreover, the legality of divorce does not kill anybody. Abortion—well, not so much.

Great blog post!

Oksana said...

But the Catholic church is trying to restrict contraception...

Helen said...

How do you respond to the fact that in places where abortion is banned, numbers of abortions go up and many thousands more women die? 60% of whom already are mothers?

Helen said...

Yes, but they are trying to restrict equal marriage - which is also a civil matter.

Helen said...

It's not deliberately dishonest. While this blog exists I am yet to meet a person - in real life - that is an atheist and anti-abortion.

Clinton Wilcox said...

Rest assured, these people exist in real life. I've even met a couple. :D

It actually was a dishonest tactic by the pro-choice side. Bernard Nathanson, who was the founder and past president of NARAL, talked about in his book, Aborting America, that despite the fact that they had churches and pastors on their side (pro-choice), then were constantly making it a religious issue (pro-lifers are just religious bigots) in the media in order to rally support for their side. It's still widely believed and parroted, but it's quite easy to rebut. Especially since even religious pro-lifers use secular arguments.

LN said...

Do you have a source for this claim? I'm very interested in this kind of data.

LN said...

Hi Helen, my name is Ellen Snyder and I'm a female atheist pro-lifer. You can check me out on facebook if you think I'm lying.

Here's more:

I don't see what meeting them in person has to do with their existence and testimony.

Aaron said...

Marriage is also a civil matter.. Yet Catholics are constantly trying to make it in accordance with its values. I think they're a bit confused.

Aaron said...

It's probably thought that pro-lifers are religious because that's the reason that prominent Republican figures give - "Life is sacred, a gift from God." They just about always say something like that. So if it really isn't about religion, then perhaps the leaders of the party that largely supports pro-lifers need to change their vocabulary.

Clinton Wilcox said...

Actually, some great pro-life philosophers are planning a seminar for pro-life politicians so they can start making the pro-life case more persuasively (and avoid making stupid comments like Akin's). Plus, some politicians are actually great at making the pro-life case. Say what you want about Rick Santorum, he can defend the pro-life position with the best of them.

Theodoor Westerhof said...

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