Two liberal clergy members who are also among the leadership of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice recently asserted that the majority of people of faith in America support abortion, and therefore, so should their pastors.
In an article published on Monday by the Washington Post entitled “Reverends Like Us Should Never Oppose Access to Abortion or Sex Ed,” Harry Knox and Alethea Smith-Withers, both ordained ministers, claimed that it is their faith that drives their support for abortion and contraception.
“[I]t is why we absolutely believe that every woman should have the ability to make her own decision on whether and when to raise a child,” they wrote. “Her health insurance should honor the full spectrum of care that she might need, including abortion.”
Knox was appointed by Barack Obama to the president’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and Smith-Withers is the founder of Pavilion of God, a Baptist congregation in Washington, D.C. Knox serves as president of the Religion Coalition for Reproductive Choice and Smith-Withers is the chair. Their article published this week sought to assert that not all professing Christians oppose abortion, and to call on lawmakers to lift restrictions from abortion coverage in Obamacare.
“Most people of faith in the United States support access to compassionate abortion care,” Knox and Smith-Withers claimed. “Believers often feel compelled to offer compassion and support to individuals and families who are making the profound decision whether to continue a pregnancy, become a parent, plan for adoption, or seek an abortion.”
The two also stated that religion needs to stay out of politics because the “problem is when one particular religious viewpoint gets written into law, in direct violation of our national commitment to religious liberty.”
“As clergy we are called by our faith to promote compassion, respect, and justice for all—in other words, to love our neighbors as we love ourselves,” Knox and Smith-Withers wrote. “We are passionately dedicated to the belief that every person—not just those with the loudest voices or most money—should be able to make their own decisions about pregnancy and parenting.”
But Clenard Childress, pastor of New Calvary Baptist Church in Montclair, N.J. and director of the Life Education and Resource Network (LEARN) told Christian News Network that while Knox and Smith-Withers claim the Scripture’s command to love thy neighbor, they need to go back and rethink the answer to the question “Who is my neighbor?”
“Jesus understood that [those who asked the question] were prejudice and bigoted toward a segment of society called the Samaritans. These pastors are bigoted and prejudice again toward a segment of society called the unborn,” he stated. “They don’t want to see the unborn as their neighbor. We, the people, have to make the connection from conception that this person is my neighbor.”
“They claim that their support for the killing of the preborn is ‘compassionate’—a claim which reminds me of Proverbs 12:10 which states, ‘The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel,'” added Matt Trewhella, pastor of Mercy Seat Christian Church in Milwaukee, Wisc. and founder of Missionaries to the Preborn.
Besides referencing the command to love your neighbor, Trewhella noted that Knox and Smith-Withers quoted no Scripture throughout the article in making their case for abortion.
“That is because they are peddlers of Planned Parenthood’s propaganda, not ministers of the word of God,” he said.
“[Planned Parenthood Founder] Margaret Sanger would be very happy with the African American woman (Smith-Withers) because Sanger said in her strategy to reach the African American community … to reduce the number of African Americans by sterilization and abortion that they had to have colored ministers that they would basically bribe and pay off to carry their message of population control, which later turned into family planning,” he said.
Both pastors disagreed that with Knox and Smith-Wither’s assertion that most people of faith favor abortion.
“The truth is, for nearly 2,000 years, every Christian denomination opposed both contraceptives and abortion without exception,” Trewhella explained. “In fact, the first Christian body ever in the history of Christianity to propose the accepted use of contraceptives was the Anglicans in 1931. The Washington Post—the very paper which published Knox and Smith-Withers’ article—editorial board condemned the proposal by the Anglicans.”
“They wrote in their March 22nd, 1931 edition, ‘It is impossible to reconcile the doctrine of the divine institution of marriage with any modernistic plan for the mechanical regulation of or suppression of human life. The Church must either reject the plain teachings of the Bible or reject schemes for the ‘scientific’ production of human souls,'” he noted.
Childress said that contrary to the article’s claim that pastors “should never oppose access to abortion,” clergymen must be a voice for the unborn and speak out against their murder.
“I say to the clergy, they must remember who called them. The Democratic Party didn’t call them, nor the Republican Party,” he said. “And their call came from a God that asked them to represent Him—to represent His teachings and His word.”
“How can you not defend life when you read in Jeremiah the fifth chapter, ‘Before you were formed in your mother’s womb, I knew you?'” he asked. “I was already somebody in God before I was in the womb. … The pulpit must reconcile themselves to that verse.”
Both Childress and Trewhella said that it is the responsibility of the Body of Christ to defend the defenseless from those who would seek their demise.
“Christians have a duty to speak out and act against the murder of the preborn by abortion,” Trewhella stated. “They need to demand of their governors and legislators that they defy the federal government that has imposed this bloodshed upon the states and defend the preborn from this unjust, brutal death.”
“It’s obvious, due to the silence of the Church, this encroachment on America has brought this detriment and this holocaust to our land, and the Church will be held responsible,” Childress said. “The Scriptures teach that judgment first begins at the house of God, yet they think it begins in the Congress or the White House—no, it begins with us. And we have been too silent on this issue.”
Childress will be hosting “Say So” marches in Newark N.J., Lawnside N.J., Philadelphia Pa., District Heights of Maryland and Washington D.C. on October 11th, 12th and 13th to speak out against abortion, specifically the 1,786 African American children who lose their lives every day. Trewhella recently returned from holding abortion awareness campaigns at public universities throughout Wisconsin, as well as helming a pro-life tour in North Dakota.