HOUSTON, Texas — Two pastors at a Baptist church in Houston, Texas have penned open letters rebuking megachurch leader Jack Graham after he publicly praised his church member and Republican House committee Chairman Jeff Leach, who announced last week that he would not allow the “Abolition of Abortion in Texas Act” to move forward because it “subjects women who undergo abortions to criminal liability.”
“I am both saddened and angry,” wrote Stephen Bratton, the pastor of preaching at Grace Family Baptist Church. “You have used the power of the pulpit and your influence as one who is supposed to speak for the Lord to effectively endorse the murder of another 55,000 children in Texas in the next year and 110,000 over the coming two years before our legislature meets again.”
As previously reported, Leach, who leads the committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence, released a statement last Wednesday advising that House Bill 896, authored by Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, would not be advanced to the full House.
Leach, who identifies as pro-life, stated that he has been active with pregnancy resource centers on a personal level and has “authored and supported some of the nation’s strongest laws.” But, he contended that because of this and his stance on life, he cannot support the bill because of its criminal penalties surrounding the abortive mother.
“My commitment to advancing the pro-life cause is stronger than ever, and that’s why I cannot in good conscience support House Bill 896 — legislation that subjects women who undergo abortions to criminal liability and even the possibility of the death penalty,” Leach wrote.
“Trusted pro-life legislators and advocates agree with me that this bill moves our state and the pro-life cause in the wrong direction and it will not be advanced from the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence,” he stated.
Leach had outlined during the hearing for the bill that while he “hates” abortion and considers it to be “murder,” he doesn’t want women to have to obtain post-abortion ministry behind bars.
Graham, who is Leach’s pastor at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, retweeted the announcement, remarking that he supports the chairman “one thousand percent.”
“I support @leachfortexas 1000 percent. He is a caring and courageous congressman who is leading Texas citizens with grace and truth,” he wrote.
Leach also shared Graham’s words, writing, “Thank you, pastor. Blessed to have your support and to follow in your footsteps boldly fighting for life and serving & meeting women at the point of their need. God is doing great things and the tide is turning!”
According to the church website, Prestonwood Baptist Church has more than 42,000 members and is one of the largest churches in America. Graham is known for his PowerPoint national television and radio broadcast, as well as his books “Man of God” and “Unseen: Angels, Satan, Heaven, Hell and Winning the Battle for Eternity.”
Graham was the president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 2002-2004, and in 2015 he served as the honorary chairman of the National Day of Prayer. He is also a member of President Trump’s Religious Advisory Board.
However, some have now expressed disappointment in both Leach and Graham, including Bratton and his pastor of discipleship, Aaron Wright. Grace Family Baptist Church is of the same Southern Baptist organization as Graham.
“How is passively holding a bill back that seeks to make abortion illegal within the state either caring or courageous? To whom is Representative Leach being caring?” Wright wrote in a post published to the church website on Tuesday. “Certainly not to the children who are aborted. In what way is he being courageous? Standing by while the innocent are slaughtered isn’t courage.”
“If abortion is the murder of innocent life, how is it that you believe there should be no criminal consequences for committing murder?” he asked.
Bratton, who was among the 330 people who testified before the House committee last Monday — a hearing that lasted for over eight hours and concluded at approximately 3 a.m., said that if the state does not criminalize abortion, it only perpetuates the bloodshed by giving residents free reign to have their unborn children slaughtered.
“Mercy and compassion demand laws that PREVENT murder by exacting equal justice for all. If there is no justice, there is no reason to cease evil acts,” he wrote. “Because you have endorsed this position, you have removed justice from the equation, thereby giving sinful men and women no reason to discontinue the act of murder.”
Wright said that he also does not believe, as claimed, that the bill would result in the death penalty for mothers who lay upon the abortionist’s table. He opined that the assertion is “spin.”
“Don’t believe the spin that claims the bill requires all women who have an abortion to face the death penalty. That is not true, but it does declare that abortion should be declared illegal by the state,” Wright stated. “And that declaration results in the criminality of abortion, which is consistent with the sixth commandment. We are commanded to protect those who cannot protect themselves. This requires action.”
Bratton lamented that because Leach shelved the bill, an estimated 110,000 unborn children will die in Texas until the legislature convenes again in 2021. He also mourned Graham’s public support for Leach’s conclusion.
“Your endorsement of the shelving of HB 896 is essentially authorizing the deaths of approximately 110,000 pre-born children in this state, and you will be held accountable before God for those deaths,” Bratton wrote.
“You are choosing the passive pathway — the pathway of least resistance — the pathway of comfort and civility. Do you not realize the harm that you are doing in leading others down this pathway? Why would you openly encourage others to walk down this road?” Wright asked.
Both pastors urged Graham to reconsider and to rather urge that the bill move forward.
“I implore you to repent of this action and to demand with all the authority that God has given you that abortion be abolished in the state of Texas,” Bratton stated.
“Brother, I am calling you to repent of your action in supporting civilized passivity in the face of murder because it is inconsistent with the word of God and even the natural order,” Wright exhorted. “A civilized passive rebellion to tyrannical evil is no resistance at all. Instead, it is participation. Both Scripture and history are replete with such examples.”
As previously reported, women who kill their newborn children may be, and have been, criminally charged in Texas, but should the child yet still be in the womb when murdered, the mother is exempt from penalty due to a current exemption to homicide law. Tinderholt’s bill sought to remove this exemption, and that for the abortionist.
“These exceptions where a mother can do something a father can’t do [they need to be removed],” a police officer declared during last week’s hearing. “A father, if he doesn’t want to accept responsibility of his child and slips pills into a drink, and takes the life of his child, that’s capital murder. A mother, [if] she slips a pill [and] doesn’t want to accept responsibility — down her throat, takes the life of an individual, it’s fine, pat on the back.”
“In law enforcement, how can we say this is just?” he asked. “Our hands our tied where we’re forced to be unjust in our dealings.”