Saturday, October 20, 2018

Abortion Violence No Solution

Originally published in the <a href="http://dailybeacon.utk.edu/" target="_blank"><b>Daily Beacon</a></b> April 16, 2007<p>
"While the other side is out bombing clinics, we'll be electing candidates!" This quote, from the late California senator Alan Cranston, reflects a very destructive trend in the abortion wars. All too frequently, the attempt is made to generalize the entire pro life movement as being a group of far-right fanatics bent on using violence and coercion to enforce their agenda. Of course, such fallacious logic ignores two important facts:
<ul>
1. These tactics are thoroughly denounced by 99.9% of the pro life community, and<p>
2. Violence and extremism occur on the pro choice side as well. </ul>

Between 1994 and 1998, when abortion related violence was at its peak, there were seven reported murders performed by self styled anti-abortion militants (I will not call these criminals "pro life"). While this is certainly seven too many, there have been far fewer abortion providers killed on the job than in many other professions. It is also noteworthy that when pro life President George W. Bush was elected, the numbers dropped even more dramatically. Nonetheless, in every case, the true pro life movement forcefully and universally condemned these heinous acts. In the words of pro life liberal Jim Trageser:
<blockquote>
“I have vehemently condemned these attacks for the exact same reason I condemn abortion -- we do not have the right to take another's life…To suggest I am guilty or share the blame for these abominable attacks is to stretch the meaning of personal responsibility beyond all reasonable recognition. By this logic, Martin Luther King Jr. was responsible for the Black Panthers because both sought equality for blacks. Extend this argument to its logical conclusion, and Abraham Lincoln shares the guilt for John Brown's terrorism because both opposed slavery…Any effort to stigmatize the entire pro-life movement because of what a few terrorists claim as their motive is nothing more than emotional blackmail.”
</blockquote>
Furthermore, pro lifers are often the very ones involved in bringing the perpetrators to justice. When a Birmingham, Alabama abortion clinic was bombed, it was a chapter of Feminists for Life who offered a reward for the guilty person’s arrest. Similarly, Priests for Life, under the leadership of Fr. Frank Pavone, has also offered substantial rewards for fugitives in clinic violence cases.<p>

We must also note that violent extremism is certainly not exclusive to the pro life side. There have also been many criminal acts performed by pro choice radicals. In fact, Human Life International (www.hli.org) has documented over 7000 incidents of criminal activity by pro choice extremists. They include 880 homicides and other killings, 86 attempted murders, 23 arsons and bombings, 787 assaults, 1,798 sex crimes (including 169 rapes), 59 kidnappings, 420 cases of vandalism, 270 drug-related crimes and .1,577 medical crimes. Some examples:
<ul>
In 1993, pro choice activist Eileen Ornstein Janezik shot and killed Jerry Simon, who was a minister, radio host and pro life activist. Janezik then continued to hold police at bay for six more hours. <p>
In 1994, abortion provider Alicia Ruiz Hanna was convicted of murdering her patient, Angela Sanchez after Sanchez died at her clinic. Hanna then attempted to stuff Sanchez's body into the trunk of her car, as Sanchez's four children looked on.<p>

in 1998, pro choice activist Alfred E. Smith was convicted of murdering his ex girlfriend, Deena Moody, specifically because she refused to have an abortion.</ul>

Regardless of which side of the abortion debate you happen to be on, we should all be horrified by these sort of tactics. How we view the abortion issue largely reflects how we view life, sex, religion and many other "hot button" topics. While meaningful dialog and debate are to be encouraged, we should all find common ground in denouncing violence and extremism wherever it is found. No matter how noble one may perceive their cause to be, violence is never a justifiable way to promote it. To do so is the very definition of terrorism.<p>

#jameshboyd #keepitreal #yourfriendjames

Christians No Foes To Progress

Originally published in <a href="http://dailybeacon.utk.edu/" target="_blank"><b>The Daily Beacon</a></b>, Monday, February 19, 2007<p>
Adolf Hitler once remarked that "Once the enemy has been identified, all proof becomes automatic." When society looks for scapegoats, religious groups have always been an easy target. In today’s world, one of the more common pariahs has been the so-called "Christian Right." However, as we will see, this term is often more caricature than reality. Of course, the movement does have its visible spokespersons (Falwell, Robertson, Dobson, Bauer, etc), but when it comes to individual, everyday citizens, the question becomes a bit more complex: Exactly what makes one a part of the "Christian Right?"<p>
Since the majority of Americans profess to be Christian, few would ridicule a person following that faith in their personal lives. On the other hand, many would argue that "It’s OK to be a Christian, just stay out of politics." Of course, if we followed this logic, we would have to repeal both the anti-slavery movement and the civil rights movement, as they were spearheaded by Christian ministers. Still other would argue that the problem is “legislating morality,” but all civil laws, even the speed limit, legislate morality to some degree. <p>
Martin Luther King wisely observed that "The church is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state." Contrary to popular belief, the goal is not to establish a Christian Theocracy in America (a few "Kingdom Now" reconstructionist groups aside). Rather, the conscience Dr. King spoke of is alive and well in the hearts of Christian citizens who desire to follow Jesus’ command to be light to a dark world. Of course, this involves challenging the "status quo," and often it involves being misunderstood and misrepresented. <p>
For example, if simply opposing abortion is such a "fringe" position, then that fringe would include the very founders of the feminist movement. Pioneers such as Susan B. Anthony, Matilda Gage and Elizabeth Cady-Stanton all saw abortion as an act which devalues human life and in doing so, hinders the progress of women. <p>
The pro-life movement is made up of people from every belief system, including some with no religious belief at all. The underlying concern is that the demeaning of human life is a very dangerous thing. Given the advances in prenatal medical technology, we can detect an unborn child's heartbeat as early as three weeks. Why, then, is it so "extreme" to acknowledge that child's personhood?<p>
Another hot-button issue for Christian conservatives is the "Intelligent Design" debate. It is unfortunate that such a false dichotomy is so often drawn between the worlds of science and faith. Copernicus, Newton, Keplar, Pascal, Mendel, Pasteur and countless other scientific luminaries were Christians.  They would no doubt be appalled at the way their beliefs are being ridiculed by supposedly "enlightened" secularists.<p>
Philosophical and theological enquiries are necessary to any discussion about the origin of life. If we take them away, then our only alternative is to define the universe in totally materialistic terms. Again, it is not only Christians who are uncomfortable with this. Consider the following: "The products of pure chance in the random combination of genes is an invitation to nihilism and spiritual poverty...the view that all aspects of reality can be reduced to matter and its various particles is . . . as much a metaphysical position as the view that an organizing intelligence created and controls reality." Interestingly, this quote comes, not from the podium of a Creation Science rally, but rather from a man named Tenzin Gyatso, otherwise known as the 14th Dalai Lama!  Do these concerns make him a part of this “radical Christian Right?” Hardly!<p>
Many other issues could be addressed, but these sorts of questions are not going away. Religious faith should not disqualify a person from offering answers to them.

#jameshboyd #keepitreal #yourfriendjames

<p>

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Christian Enigma of Donald Trump

So, what is an Evangelical Christian to make of the President? Here is my current perspective, subject to change.

I didn't vote for Trump because of concerns about his moral character and his latecomer status to the conservative cause. I still have concerns about the former, but have been pleasantly surprised at the latter.

For the most part he has been very consistent in supporting issues of concern to Christians. Even the great Goliath of Roe v Wade may finally be in the crosshairs.

Is he a "baby Christian" himself as some have suggested? I don't know, but at the very least he knows who "brought him to the dance."

But on the downside, critics on the left are quick to point out the hypocrisy of crying "character counts" during the Clinton scandals then giving someone like Trump a pass. They do have a point.

The GOP may have forever forfeited its voice for  values and morality. Whatever good Trump may do, I hope it doesn't prove to be a Faustian bargain down the road.

Keep It Real,
James

#jameshboyd #keepitreal #yourfriendjames