CLEVELAND, Ohio — A group of approximately 15 apostate United Methodist, Episcopal and Jewish clergy recently gathered outside an abortion facility in Ohio to “bless” its services and to “thank God for abortion providers.”
“We gathered here today because far too many religious people forget that God’s love is steadfast,” Harry Knox, president of the Washington-based Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), told the approximately 40 people joining the group for the event. “I’m here today standing alongside my fellow clergymen and clergywomen to say, ‘Thank God for abortion providers.’”
“The religious right has really hijacked the conversation on this issue, and we need to let women know that there are people of faith who are in favor of safe and legal abortion,” added event organizer Laura Young, a United Methodist minister who also serves as the executive director of the Ohio chapter RCRC.
“We want to show the clinic staff and the women who obtain their services and the community that there are people of faith who do believe that abortion is sometimes necessary and that it should be done in a safe, dignified way without shame,” she stated.
Those gathered outside of the Cleveland abortion facility Preterm, which has been in operation since 1974, held signs such as “Good Women Have Abortions” and “Pro-Faith, Pro-Family, Pro-Choice.” Young said that attendees also laid hands on abortion-minded mothers and staff.
The outlet Think Progress reports that the clergy hoped their blessing would protect the facility from “preachy protesters, as well as encourage the strength and bravery of those providing and relying on its services.” Young explained to the publication that if the gathering succeeds, RCRC will move on to other facilities in other states.
She already runs a counseling hotline for abortion-minded mothers who question if it is a sin to end their child’s life.
“It breaks my heart to know women are sitting in pews across the country feeling shamed, believing that they’re cursed for making this decision,” Young told reporters. “That’s a question I get a lot on the phone, ‘Am I going to Hell?’ when God instead is there to support women through it all.”
Knox’s group has been in headlines before and has written prominent op-eds regarding his pro-abortion viewpoint. As previously reported, in September 2014, his article “Reverends Like Us Should Never Oppose Access to Abortion or Sex Ed” was published by the Washington Post.
“[Our faith] 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,” he wrote, along with co-author Alethea Smith-Withers. “Her health insurance should honor the full spectrum of care that she might need, including abortion.”
But Clenard Childress, pastor of New Calvary Baptist Church in Montclair, N.J. and director of the Life Education and Resource Network (LEARN), disagreed.
“I say to the clergy, they must remember Who called them. The Democratic Party didn’t call them, nor the Republican Party,” he told Christian News Network at that time. “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?’” Childress asked. “I was already somebody in God before I was in the womb. … The pulpit must reconcile themselves to that verse.”
There are nine abortion facilities in Ohio. Eight others have closed in the past five years due to inability to comply with state laws or as the result of wrongdoing.