“The Devil feeds the poor.”
This is the kind of post that costs me friends, but it’s also a reminder of where the phrase “don’t shoot the messenger” emanates. So if you are a United Methodist Church (UMC) member, keep in mind, the issue isn’t with me, the writer.
I’ll begin by saying that I have several friends who are part of the UMC. They are real Christians. Some simply have been deceived by their own leadership; still others have not understood the magnitude of the blood money in their own congregations. This isn’t my first public comment on UMC and abortion. But despite writing about it for several years, I learned something new this week that causes the fear of the Lord to come over me. I would rather lose friends than stay silent on this issue of Kingdom importance. The UMC is directly tied to the burgeoning abortion rights movement post Roe v. Wade. It is, in fact, part of the reason the church is divided on abortion and cannot find a unified message.
It is impossible to reconcile abortion to Christianity. Abortion advocates would have, unquestionably, told Mary that she should consider terminating her unplanned pregnancy and go on and marry Joseph—to start a family when she was ready—as if we are our own gods and get to decide God made a mistake when He let a baby be conceived. I don’t think I need to explain how the Bible makes it clear a life is a life in the womb. Actually, before he or she is in the womb, the Lord says He formed each of us. (Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 139). Therefore, this post is not to argue whether a baby is a life until a certain stage. And even if the Bible weren’t enough evidence, which it ought to be for anyone who claims to be a believer, science has reconciled with the Bible. We know that a baby’s heart beats by about three-weeks after conception—which is before virtually any woman even knows she’s pregnant. If your heart stopped now, you’d die. Life in the womb is unquestionable. It is wholly impossible to reconcile abortion to a Christian life. Period.
That said, I have been writing about several mainline denominations that are part of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) for years. These include the Presbyterian Church (PC-USA), the Evangelical Lutherans (ELCA), The Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ (not to be confused with Church of Christ), Disciples of Christ (usually the local “First Christian Church,” but not always), and, of course, the UMC. Because UMC is generally the largest and most well-known and often seems the most conservative of these groups, it’s been more of a focus for me as a pro-life journalist.
What I didn’t realize, probably from simply reading too fast when I first read the history page of the RCRC, is that the UMC was instrumental in creating this pro-abortion organization that uses the name of Jesus to justify shedding innocent blood for the sake of a woman being her own god. According to the RCRC: “1973 | Mainline Protestant and Jewish leaders meet at the United Methodist Building in Washington, DC, to discuss the Roman Catholic Church’s pledge to overturn the new U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. This meeting, called by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, leads to the formation of the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights (RCAR).” (emphasis mine). In 1993, the organization, “broaden[ed] its mission and change[d] its name to the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC).” You can read the timeline of the history of the RCRC here.
First, I want to share a bit of what the RCRC does, and then I will explain some information on why you cannot be UMC and separate yourself from complicit bloodshed.
The RCRC can be colloquially described as Planned Parenthood’s voice with some Jesus mixed in. In fact, sometimes correspondence from Planned Parenthood seems tame to the RCRC’s communication and its vehement stand that women of faith deserve abortion rights.
The RCRC suggests churches do various things to further the cause of abortion rights and social justice. The list includes some good stuff—an HIV ministry at a church, protecting people from abuse. That’s the thing with social justice Christianity; there is always enough true justice that people feel like jerks by opposing the false justice. However, it’s a fallacy of logic to imply that one cannot minister to HIV victims and protect abused girls without promoting abortion rights. These are different issues.
But the main issue of the RCRC is abortion, aka “reproductive justice”:
At RCRC, we believe the decision to become a parent or become a parent again, when and under what circumstances are deeply personal decisions best left to a woman to discern for herself… abortion is irrevocably intertwined with one’s ability and desire to parent.
In 1973, Roe V. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court case, ruled that a woman’s reproductive decisions are a matter of personal privacy…. if sex serves purposes beyond reproduction, then a woman has the legal right to both prevent and interrupt a pregnancy. In addition to supporting a woman’s right to control her own body, this decision affirmed the separation of religion and state. There is no religious consensus on when life begins and, as such, codifying one ideological viewpoint into public law undermines the validity and religious freedom of others.
With reverence for each woman’s autonomy and agency …. We call on the government to partner with us in ensuring all women have equal access to safe, legal and moral abortion care.
Rev. Harry F. Knox, RCRC President and CEO, wrote a column as he took helm of the RCRC. In his piece, he details the importance of the UMC in forming the abortion rights organization, as well as sustaining it today. In fact, this article appears on the UMC General Board of Church & Society page, not RCRC,s who simply link to their president’s column.
It is no surprise that RCRC’s United Methodists have had a big influence on our new direction. Reproductive justice is a very Wesleyan framework for studying, thinking, praying and talking about God’s gift of healthy and responsible sexuality.
United Methodists also understood that justice recognizes the good of the community relies, not on draconian rules by which few can abide, but on personal empowerment and sustained local support for people doing the best they can under heavy pressure.
As I have begun reviewing the history of RCRC, it has become increasingly clear to me that leaders of our organization, from the very beginning, have taken seriously Wesley’s admonition that controversial issues like access to health care, women’s self-determination and moral agency, and comprehensive sexuality education require all the benefits of attention to scripture, tradition, reason and experience.
RCRC, which will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2013, is proud that the United Methodist General Board of Church & Society and United Methodist Women were among its founders and continue to be some of its most engaged members.
In the best tradition of Wesley in 18th century England, RCRC has worked to develop a variety of congregationally based education and support programs to help men, women and families in the process of making life choices relating to sexuality and pregnancy. These programs promote sustained good health, and improve chances to create full and meaningful lives.
Few will buy that Wesley was parading around England in the 1700s advocating abortion, but the RCRC and UMC members have to make that framework fit so they have taken righteous social justice and twisted the truth to make it into their own image, which is the oldest trick in the book.
Time and space limitations are prohibitive to presenting all the evidence of the troubling abortion ideology in the UMC, as viewed through their lens in the RCRC, but take some time and read over the information on RCRC.org.
So the UMC endorses, supports and promotes abortion, but how does this affect that sweet couple you know at First UMC who give money to the pregnancy crisis center, had an unwed girl in their home until she had her baby and was able to place him for adoption? Well, a Methodist couple that sincerely pro-life would probably weep to discover the bloody ties in knowing their faithful tithe, which supports their church, also supports abortion. That sweet couple is complicit in the shedding of innocent blood.
The most common argument I hear from UMC members is that “my congregation doesn’t send money to that fund.” Sometimes I hear, “I told the pastors I didn’t want a penny of my tithe going to any national UMC programs.” I appreciate the heart behind these statements, but they are impossible actions to remove complicity.
In response to the protest that we don’t support that fund, the first question I ask is, “which one?” Because more than one UMC fund supports the RCRC, and it’s all the same overall organization; united under one governance. But let’s say they don’t support one fund. So what? If you’re a UMC member organization you have financial ties to the main UMC governing board. If you give them money, you support what they do. Period.
Practically speaking, if you financially support a church in the UMC denomination, you are helping to financially support the propagation of abortion. The most primary reason for this is fungibility of funds. The word fungible means: “(especially of goods) being of such nature or kind as to be freely exchangeable or replaceable, in whole or in part, for another of like nature or kind” (Dictionary.com).
Its history is a good explanation of why you can’t limit your money.
People try this one with Planned Parenthood all the time. It sounds like this: “Planned Parenthood does a lot of good things, and it’s okay for that, just not abortion.” Nice try. If you donate $400 to Planned Parenthood and specify it for cancer screenings, it will put your $400 toward the cancer screenings fund—and then turn around and take $400 from its cancer screening budget and put it in its abortion fund. See how they legitimately and legally honored your request and you helped pay for the abortion of a first trimester baby? Because that’s exactly what happens when you try to keep your money given to the UMC, and other RCRC churches, within the church itself so you don’t support that “abortion stuff.” You still do, but now you’ve been conned. Legally. Worst of all, you’re living in deception.
John Wesley, founder of Methodism, was the fifteenth of nineteen children, and a godly man who taught repentance from sins. The current UMC structure not only avoids teaching repentance, but would advocate telling Susanna Wesley that 19 children were probably too many and it would be okay to choose not to birth some of them. Like John. Or Charles.
Lest you think that the abortion thread of United Methodism isn’t really that thick, you need only to look at the history. The UMC jumped into promoting abortion rights just after the Supreme Court ruled abortion was legal. For 43 years now, the money running through one of the largest denominations in the world has been red with the blood of innocent children. This ideology isn’t limited to one faction of the UMC. It is in their Book of Discipline, which is the guiding document for the denomination. In fact, their statement on abortion is fraught with a troubling lead (emphasis mine):
The beginning of life and the ending of life are the God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born. Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion.
But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child
In short, the UMC believes that we have the right to be god and decide who lives and dies. It’s a stunning statement that should elicit the fear of God in any believer. God, the very Creator of human life, has taken a back seat to the ideology that makes us creators and destroyers; we are little gods in this term of thinking. But our God will have no god before Him. He is not mocked.
In fact, so married to abortion rights is the UMC that the denomination even made a resolution in 2004 and 2008 that issued support for the RCRC. Here are some excerpts of its reaffirmation in 2008:
WHEREAS, The United Methodist Church was a founding member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice in 1973;
WHEREAS, these Coalition member organizations hold a wide variety of views regarding policies relating to specific issues of reproductive choice such as when life and personhood begins but, nevertheless, share common religious values, have official pro-choice policies, and are committed to working together to ensure reproductive choice for all persons through the moral power of religious communities; and
WHEREAS, the Religious Coalition supports the right of all persons to have access to a wide range of reproductive health services including… abortion services…
WHEREAS, factions within the United Methodist Church whose stated goal is to have the General Conference go on record in opposition to all abortions regardless of the reason are working towards the goal of severing all United Methodist ties with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice;
Therefore, be it resolved, that the United Methodist 2008 General Conference go on record in support of the work of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and
Be it further resolved, that the 2008 General Conference affirm the continued membership of the General Board of Church and Society and the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries in the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
Last November, the UMC commented further on its abortion stance. That article sought to present that abortions should be rare and never used as birth control, but goes on to remind readers of the resolution on “Responsible Parenthood.” This resolution says, “We believe that continuance of a pregnancy that endangers the life or health of the mother, or poses other serious problems concerning the life, health, or mental capability of the child to be, is not a moral necessity” (Resolution 2025 “Responsible Parenthood”).
The resolution then says:
In such cases, we believe the path of mature Christian judgment may indicate the advisability of abortion. We support the legal right to abortion as established by the 1973 Supreme Court decision. We encourage women in counsel with husbands, doctors, and pastors to make their own responsible decisions concerning the personal and moral questions surrounding the issue of abortion
Advocating abortion when the “health” of the mother is at stake is the catch-all loophole that means a woman can get an abortion for any reason. It includes mental health and justifies abortion if the woman is scared or feels her life would be too altered by being pregnant and she can’t handle it. It’s the oldest loophole in the book for late-term abortion consent, used by doctors who commit partial-birth abortions saying the need was the “health of the mother.” To say abortion is sad and we discourage it, but, “hey, since some women need them we will just keep running this organization that promotes abortion in the name of Jesus.”
(Have a look at more of the UMC take on abortion with this search from their website.)
Finally, I’ll point out what is probably the greatest irony I’ve seen in an RCRC email. It came a couple Christmases ago in a letter from its leader, Knox. I’ll let his words speak for themselves:
The Christian tradition says that Jesus advised his disciples to, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you dressed like sheep, but inside they are vicious wolves. You will know them by their fruit.”
These laws, and the anti-abortion legislators that promote them, are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They say one thing that sounds very nice, but we know them by their fruit. They want nothing more than to deny women the right to decide to have a child on her own terms.
They’re telling a lie. In biblical terms, they’re bearing false witness. Where I come from, that’s a sin.
These false prophets – these vicious wolves – are tearing women’s rights to shreds. And they need to be stopped.
This is who the RCRC is—people who think those who oppose abortion are tearing women to shreds, forgetting the person who is literally torn to shreds. False prophets, they call us, for speaking life in the womb is sacred. That they would call those who uphold the right to life as bearing false witness is an irony too tragic to stomach.
Currently over 800 UMC delegates are in Portland, OR for the United Methodist Church’s General Conference. Much ado has been made over whether the church will formally permit same-sex marriage and ordination of homosexual ministers, practices not allowed in the current Book of Discipline (though many UMC ministers have married homosexual couples and the churches are generally “open and affirming,” meaning homosexuals may worship without fear of being judged for their lifestyle, but instead welcomed regardless of what sex their partner is). This debate will produce national headlines later this week and has been the topic of many news articles, such as this one from the Washington Post last week; however, it almost doesn’t matter what that outcome is because a bigger issue is hovering that would still leave the denomination in a practice of unrepentant sin of innocent bloodshed. You see, the UMC has been swimming in blood money from a practice that goes against the heart of the gospel since the time that abortion became legalized. Whatever the delegates decide this week in Portland, unless they disavow abortion and pull all ties to the RCRC and all affirmation of abortion, they will drown in their own blood money.
My hope, which is a yucky word for it, is that the current debate over other issues that seems to elicit more response from the average believer, will actually split the church so that the true believers will rise and create a church where the Bible is upheld rather than used as a justification to kill babies and put the name of Jesus on the blood. There are millions living in either deception or willful disobedience to the Word of God by being complicit in the shedding of innocent blood.
Jesus has shed His blood once and for all. No other innocent blood ever needs to be shed for a person to live an abundant life.
I began this article with a quotation from a leader; it has impacted me for years. “The devil feeds the poor,” he said. His point was that the antichrist spirit that is in the world today (I John 2:18, 4:3) will entice and engage people with a mantle of social justice. The devil does “good” things to get people in his court of compromise. “Oh, you’re starving and need a home? Here’s a feast and a condo. You’re still going to hell, but you don’t know it because you’re comfortable.” The church needs to do good works; faith without works is dead (James 2:17), but that good must be truly in the name of Jesus. It’s not helpful to feed the poor and heal the sick and lead them to hell. Social justice is good—in the name of the real Jesus. A true Christian will love the mother in a crisis pregnancy. It certainly is our responsibility to care for her, counsel her, financially support her, help her forge a plan for adoption or raising her child. It’s our job to love her through it all. It’s our job to feed and clothe her if she needs these things. But it is not our job to justify the shedding of the innocent blood of her baby to bring some temporary relief. This is what the United Methodist Church has been doing since the decision in Roe v. Wade was rendered.
We are either pro-life or we’re not.
We are either Christians or we’re not.
“I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!- Jesus (Revelation 3:15-16, NLT)