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Commentary: Straight Talk about Christianity & Abortion

Holy City Sinner

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By: Skip Johnson, Guest Writer

Bible-believing conservative Christians should explain why they believe abortion equates to baby murder. Nothing in the Bible indicates that. 

Most foundational Jewish texts assert that a fetus becomes a person at birth.  The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) does not mention the word “abortion.” The closest it comes is Exodus 21:22-25, which says that if two people fight and it causes a woman to miscarry, the person responsible must pay a fine. That’s all.

Jesus never mentioned the word “abortion.” For that matter, neither did anyone else whose writings became the New Testament. They all accepted the Hebrew Bible in its entirety.

Yet, the Roman Catholic Church has never approved of abortion. The issue came especially into focus in 1679 when Pope innocent XI issued the papal bull Sanctissimus Dominus, which condemned, among other things, two propositions related to abortion: Proposition 34, which said it should be lawful for a woman to procure abortion, and Proposition 35, which stated: “It seems probable that the fetus (as long as it is in the uterus) lacks a rational soul and begins first to have one when it is born: and consequently, it must be said that no abortion is a homicide.”

That was just 45 years after Galileo was brought before the Inquisition on charges of heresy because he believed the earth revolves around the sun.  He begged the priests to just look through his telescope, but they refused because they said the Bible told them everything they needed to know about the solar system.  Since then, the church has changed its position on heliocentrism, but not on abortion. It solidified that position in 1869 by writing into canon law prohibition of abortion at any stage of pregnancy.

As for the Protestant Church, abortion was never much of an issue in any of the denominations until 1979, six years after the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision, and then it had nothing to do with religion. It was all about politics.

In her deeply researched book “The Power Worshippers,” Katherine Stewart shows how in the late 1970s the IRS began threatening the tax-exempt status of religious groups that ran racially segregated schools – specifically, Bob Jones University in Greenville, S.C.  High-powered Christian nationalists –among them Bob Jones Sr., Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Paul Weyrich — decided to “restore America’s moral foundation” by taking over all governmental bodies by creating a hot-button issue that had nothing to do with segregation. They considered women’s liberation, school prayer, bashing communism, but settled on abortion.

The plan worked astonishingly well — so well, in fact, that today abortion has become  the single most powerful force guiding the Republican party and a virtual litmus test for being a Republican.  The plan helped elect Donald Trump president, moved the Senate sharply right, packed the courts with conservative judges, and planted anti-abortion bills into the legislatures of all 50 states.

Skip Johnson is a former Marine, a retired newspaperman and author of two nonfiction books, The Gospel of Yeshua: A Fresh Look at the Life and Teaching of Jesus, and Charleston: The Brief History of a Remarkable City. He also is the founder of Allgood Copywriting. which provides writing services to businesses and nonprofit organizations.

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