According to Progressive Christian pastor Doug Pagitt, in a recent opinion piece for USA Today, pro-lifers have finally been exposed as insensitive, hypocritical jerks who care nothing for human dignity.
Citing the continued support for President Donald Trump’s administration by American Christians, Pagitt argues in doing so, religious leaders are rejecting the teachings of Jesus to care for those in need merely to get more anti-abortion laws on the books.
In fact, Pagitt states the following:
“The Republican Party has used the issue of abortion as a tool to manipulate religious leaders across the country. These leaders’ highest concern is self-preservation. They fear God’s wrath and want impunity. But in their fear, they have become blinded and desensitized to all other injustices and inhumanities: children separated from parents, refugees refused safety, women denigrated and abused, and health care denied to the vulnerable. These conservative leaders are willing, at all costs, to make a moral trade — anti-abortion laws and court decisions in exchange for basic human dignity. This impulse for self-preservation allows them to champion an administration that runs afoul of America’s commitment to be a place of protection, that violates the call of the parable of the Good Samaritan, in which Jesus calls his followers to let go of our religious agendas to care for the harmed stranger.”
Let’s suppose he is correct here. Pro-lifers are insensitively ignoring the needs of the suffering minorities, women, and refugees in order to ignorantly pass more abortion restrictions, which Pagitt argues, are ineffective. Let’s say pro-life Christians do not care for abused women, people fleeing wars and political violence abroad, the poor family who may lose access to healthcare, or the needs of many, many other groups. The accusation that pro-life Christians are inconsistent is very common, with every trending social justice movement of the week being trotted out to make the point. Pro-life Christians who seek to limit abortion are callous and insensitive?
Pro-lifers are arguing that it is wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human being. Abortion intentionally kills an innocent human being (a point that many of our critics concede). Therefore, Abortion is wrong. Any objection that fails to address that essential pro-life argument is simply irrelevant.
The only counter Pagitt offers is to claim that criminalizing abortion hurts women, and cites two recent studies to back up his claim. As Dr. Michael New points out though, these studies do not actually show that criminalizing abortion will not in fact save babies. As New highlights, abortion rates continued to climb after the legalization of abortion in the United States after Roe v. Wade. Pagitt is simply wrong to claim that pro-lifers are mistaken in trying to pass laws to protect the preborn. These laws have been proven to saves lives.
As I have written elsewhere, this argument is often raised by a crusader. Doug Pagitt is an example of a crusader: someone who does not care about what pro-lifers are saying but is instead trying to score cheap rhetorical points by making his opponents look bad.
However, suppose pro-lifers did everything he was asking: we rejected the policies of the Republican party, advocated for the poor to have access to healthcare provided by the federal government, and worked harder to end sexual abuse and racism.
What if we did all of that and still engaged in all of the things we already do to help those in need? After all, pro-life groups provide clothing, food, healthcare, and shelter to women in crisis pregnancies. Would Pagitt (and other crusaders like him) then join us in opposing abortion as a moral wrong? I doubt he would.
Which raises the question: why raise the alleged hypocrisy of the pro-life movement in the first place, given that this is not his true reason for rejecting the pro-life argument? Given that his organizations do not seem to offer much support for preborn children and their mothers, Pagitt’s claim opponents are hypocrites is not very believable. He needs to offer an argument for why the pro-life view is mistaken, not simply sit by, and take cheap shots at his opponents.
Additionally, a deeper question needs to be asked of Mr. Pagitt: if Christians are to care for the least of those in our communities—to be more inclusive and oppose violence, exploitation, and discrimination—then why would this not include the preborn? Are they somehow less deserving of our protection than our born neighbors are?
Pagitt calls on evangelicals to “use our vote as a tool for the common good of all people.” Does that include voting to protect the preborn?
Pagitt misses the point on this as well. By simply assuming the preborn are not as human as the born, Pagitt is engaging in a political discourse of exclusion far worse than the type he condemns conservatives for engaging in. If the preborn are as much human beings as the born, then it follows they should not be excluded or deliberately killed when they become a burden or an inconvenience, just as the born should not be.
Pro-lifers are not mistaken to focus extra time and energy on protecting the preborn, especially given the legal, cultural, and yes, political, challenges in the way. Few people, if any, are openly advocating for the legal and constitutional right to intentionally kill the poor, minorities, women, or refugees through dismemberment or crushing. Few, if any, are saying we ought to kill these people at their most vulnerable and in numbers surpassing the millions per year.
However, an entire political party, institutions of higher education, the media, and the US Supreme Court have all allowed and encouraged the preborn to be violently killed in this way for decades.
Until that changes, pro-life Christians who vote for the members of a party that generally claims to oppose the deliberate killing of innocent human beings do not need to apologize. It is Pagitt and progressive Christians of his type who owe an apology for tolerating the intentional killing of fellow image bearers of our Maker in the most vulnerable time of their lives: before birth.
Pagitt criticizes pro-life Christian leader and conservative Franklin Graham for “mocking” the parable of the Good Samaritan by using it as a foundation for his ministry, while still defending Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings.
However, Pagitt is far more guilty of hypocrisy, as he walks past his preborn neighbors on the opposite side of the road in order to ignore the fact they are being assaulted daily in America by the thousands, as he travels to his next social justice summit.
It is worth mentioning that Jesus also condemned the religious hypocrites who claimed to honor God but gave to the poor merely for show. As Jesus said, they already have their reward in full.