4/3/2015 2:00:00 PM
Every now and then I’m handed a newspaper story that warms my heart. This week, two stories got me angry, and reminded me of how much work the Church has to do if it wants to make an impact on the culture in which it’s called to be salt and light.
One of the stories this one
in The Washington Post
by “social change reporter” Sandhya Somashekhar. It highlights a clinic in the well-to-do Friendship Heights neighborhood of Washington that looks like a spa, but is actually a place where you can get your unborn baby killed.
The ads the Carafem clinic prepared for the city’s transit system proclaimed, “Abortion. Yeah, we do that.” It’s part of an effort to “destigmatize” abortion – something that, quite frankly, shouldn’t happen on the Church’s watch.
Carafem, Somashekhar reports, specializes in the abortion pill, and is used in the story to highlight an effort by the abortion industry to make its gruesome business a mainstream part of American life. “We don’t want to talk in hushed tones,” she quotes the clinic’s president, Christopher Purdy. “We use the A-word” (calling it the “A-word” sounds
hushed to me, but I’ve also got a different idea about right and wrong than this guy).
Planned Parenthood spokesman Eric Ferrero typifies this new posture, saying in the story that abortion involves “really complicated personal issues,” but that “we also need to be unapologetic and bold.”
Some of the boldness involves an “Abortion Stigma-Busting Video Competition” sponsored by the Abortion Care Network. One of the winners was a 26-year-old actress and clinic “counselor” who filmed her own surgical abortion (from the waist up, thankfully) and posted it online last year. Sometimes I wonder if I am not making too much use of YouTube; this convinces me that the more Spirit-filled truth I can put on it, the better.
This would all seem comical if it weren’t being used to trivialize such an important cause: the sanctity of human life. To borrow phrases from a recent book of mine, “Living on Our Heads,” it seems that more than ever these days, the bad guys are called good and the good guys are called bad – and life is called bad and death is called good. These efforts to normalize the killing of unborn babies tell me more about the people who think it’s normal to kill than it does about anyone responsible for the deserved negative stigma of abortion. What’s next, an orchestrated campaign to generate sympathy for the perpetrators of drive-by shootings?
The dominant story of this week, however, involves state versions of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). A pizza shop not far from our Elkhart, Ind., campus has become the target of some of the most horrible hate speech you’ll find, all because a reporter from nearby South Bend walked in and asked the owner and his daughter what they thought of Indiana’s new RFRA. They said they’d serve anyone, but would decline a hypothetical offer to cater a same-sex wedding (and while I’ve been through some towns where the local pizza shop was the finest dining to be found, I can’t imagine the pies being the focus of any wedding-reception spread).
The media initially butchered the story in two ways, claiming the shop wouldn’t serve gays because of the RFRA. It corrected the owners’ words, but not the nature of the bill (it protects us from the government, not from any group of people). But it was too late; the shop was inundated with death threats. A high-school coach in Elkhart even tweeted that she’d like to burn the shop down (she’s been suspended, thankfully).
The coverage of the state RFRAs, in Arkansas as well as in Indiana, have provided another example of how the media contributes to our upside-down orientation. I believe RFRAs are good because they protect Americans of all religious faiths from government interference in the practice of their faith. The law is, unfortunately, necessary because governments at all levels have shown that they cannot be trusted to respect the First Amendment rights of religious freedom otherwise. The Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate, unabashedly trampling the religious liberties rights of for-profit businesses and even church-related employers that oppose birth control, is only the most prominent example. Thankfully last year’s U.S. Supreme Court recognized the religious rights of Hobby Lobby, ruling that it did not have to pay for contraceptives that it found morally objectionable, using the federal RFRA to do so.
The harangues you read against RFRA are not, to a great extent, about religious liberty. They are about hatred of the people who have come to benefit from the law – most prominently values voters, though certainly not limited to them. It’s another way the Left can call us racists, bigots, homophobes and every other derogatory term they can think of, and to raise money for their causes. It’s cynical and disingenuous, and incredibly revealing of their character.
The temptation is to dismiss these unfounded criticisms as the rantings of lunatics. But, as we’ve learned most prominently this week in a story about former Senate President Harry Reid, these people tell lies strategically because they understand an important segment of the population – low-information voters – will believe them. Reid called former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a candidate for president, a tax cheat from the Senate floor in 2012. Romney quickly proved Reid liar, producing his tax returns. Asked this week if he regretted his words, Reid demurred, adding, “Romney didn’t win, did he?” He might as well have said, “Yes, I lied, but it worked, and that’s what matters to us.”
We need to tell the truth as well as the other side is lying. The truth is that the RFRA is a necessary law that all states should have, to protect anyone who practices any type of faith expression from government interference. It’s that simple, and that important.
For his part Purdy, the abortion entrepreneur, told Somasshekhar that he hopes to expand the Carafem model to other states. “It’s fresh, it’s modern, it’s clean, it’s caring,” Purdy told the reporter. “That’s the brand we’re trying to create.”
“Caring” – except toward the babies, of course.
This weekend we are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the One who came to give us life, and more abundantly. If we can’t be on the side of religious liberties and life in the face of a culture that more greatly values death, we’ll not have much to say in our defense when we come face to face with Him.
- April 3, 2015