CATHOLIC CHURCH TAKES CHARGE OF THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT
Exhibit A: the health care overhaul. On Nov. 6, the night before the House of Representatives voted on heath care, Speaker Nancy Pelosi received some visitors. One was Rep. Bart Stupak of
As Stupak later put it, "We want to send a message: If you start messing with abortion and health care, you've got a problem."
The meeting was a turning point. Pelosi allowed a vote on the amendment the next day. It passed.
Connecticut Democrat Rosa DeLauro, a pro-choice Catholic, says she was dismayed that the bishops seemed to be elevating abortion over every other issue, including the health care needs of the poor.
"In their quest to push on the issue of abortion," she says, "they failed in the church's mission. They really act like a bunch of lawyers who are instructing members how to vote on arcane House rules."
DeLauro says the bishops are rejecting the tradition established by John F. Kennedy that Catholic politicians vote according to their conscience, not the dictates of
"The activity that the Catholic bishops have engaged in implies that the church will determine and dictate public policy," DeLauro says. . .
And then there is the battle between Bishop Thomas Tobin of
"The point is that for any Catholic in public office, his first commitment has to be to his faith," Tobin told MSNBC's Chris Matthews. "Not just for a Catholic, but for a member of any religious community. No commitment is more important than your commitment to your faith, because it involves your relationship with God."
THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT AND THE BIBLE
This appeared in the Progressive Review during the Reagan Administration.
Sam Smith, Progressive Review - The ultimate irony of the conservatives is that they pretend to be a bastion of Christian politics when, in fact, they are comprised in no small part of despoilers, usurers, war-mongers, hypocrites, idolaters and groupies of false prophets - all of whom are frowned upon by the book they profess to follow. And their opponents, who are more faithful to the words that the conservatives only quote, are often such good Christians that they never say a mumblin' word about it all.
A TIMELINE OF INCONSISTENT BUT INCREASINGLY CRUEL CERTAINTY
Conscience, 1996 - Most people believe that the Roman Catholic church's position on abortion has remained unchanged for two thousand years. Not true. Church teaching on abortion has varied continually over the course of its history. There has been no unanimous opinion on abortion at any time. While there has been constant general agreement that abortion is almost always evil and sinful, the church has had difficulty in defining the nature of that evil. Members of the Catholic hierarchy have opposed abortion consistently as evidence of sexual sin, but they have not always seen early abortion as homicide. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the "right-to-life" argument is a relatively recent development in church teaching. The debate continues today.
Also contrary to popular belief, no pope has proclaimed the prohibition of abortion an "infallible" teaching. This fact leaves much more room for discussion on abortion than is usually thought, with opinions among theologians and the laity differing widely. In any case, Catholic theology tells individuals to follow their personal conscience in moral matters, even when their conscience is in conflict with hierarchical views.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT ABORTION?
Freedom from Religion Foundation - The word "abortion" does not appear in any translation of the bible. Out of more than 600 laws of Moses, none comments on abortion. One Mosaic law about miscarriage specifically contradicts the claim that the bible is antiabortion, clearly stating that miscarriage does not involve the death of a human being. If a woman has a miscarriage as the result of a fight, the man who caused it should be fined. If the woman dies, however, the culprit must be killed:
"If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth . . ."--Ex. 21:22-25
According to the bible, life begins at birth--when a baby draws its first breath. The bible defines life as "breath" in several significant passages, including the story of Adam's creation in Genesis 2:7, when God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Jewish law traditionally considers that personhood begins at birth. . .
An honest reader must admit that the bible contradicts itself. "Thou shalt not kill" did not apply to many living, breathing human beings, including children, who are routinely massacred in the bible. The Mosaic law orders "Thou shalt kill" people for committing such "crimes" as cursing one's father or mother (Ex. 21:17), for being a "stubborn son" (Deut. 21:18-21), for being a homosexual (Lev. 20:13), or even for picking up sticks on the Sabbath (Numbers 15:32-35)! Far from protecting the sanctity of life, the bible promotes capital punishment for conduct which no civilized person or nation would regard as criminal.
Mass killings were routinely ordered, committed or approved by the God of the bible. One typical example is Numbers 25:4-9, when the Lord casually orders Moses to massacre 24,000 Israelites: "Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the Lord against the sun." Clearly, the bible is not pro-life.
Most scholars and translators agree that the injunction against killing forbade only the murder of (already born) Hebrews. It was open season on everyone else, including children, pregnant women and newborn babies.
"Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones."--Psalm 137:9
The bible is not pro-child. Why did God set a bear upon 42 children just for teasing a prophet (2 Kings 2:23-24)? Far from demonstrating a "pro-life" attitude, the bible decimates innocent babies and pregnant women in passage after gory passage, starting with the flood and the wanton destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, progressing to the murder of the firstborn child of every household in Egypt (Ex. 12:29), and the New Testament threats of annihilation. .
Then there are the dire warnings of Jesus in the New Testament:
"For, behold, the days are coming, in which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the womb that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck."--Luke 23:29
The teachings and contradictions of the bible show that antiabortionists do not have a "scriptural base" for their claim that their deity is "pro-life." Spontaneous abortions occur far more often than medical abortions. Gynecology textbooks conservatively cite a 15% miscarriage rate. . .
The bible is neither antiabortion nor pro-life, but does provide a biblical basis for the real motivation behind the antiabortion religious crusade: hatred of women. The bible is anti-woman, blaming women for sin, demanding subservience, mandating a slave/master relationship to men, and demonstrating contempt and lack of compassion:
"I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."--Genesis 3:16
What self-respecting woman today would submit willingly to such tyranny?
The antiabortion position does not demonstrate love for humanity, or compassion for real human beings. Worldwatch Institute statistics show that 50% of abortions worldwide are illegal, and that at least 200,000 women die every year--and thousands more are hurt and maimed--from illegal or self-induced abortions. Unwanted pregnancies and complications from multiple pregnancies are a leading killer of women. . . ?
Numerous Christian denominations and religious groups agree that the bible does not condemn abortion and that abortion should continue to be legal. These include:
- American Baptist Churches-USA - American Ethical Union - American Friends (Quaker) Service Committee - American Jewish Congress - Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) - Episcopal Church - Lutheran Women's Caucus - Moravian Church in America-Northern Province - Presbyterian Church (USA) - Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - Union of American Hebrew Congregations - Unitarian Universalist Association - United Church of Christ - United Methodist Church - United Synagogue of America - Women's Caucus Church of the Brethren - YWCA - Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice - Catholics for Free Choice - Evangelicals for Choice