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January 22, 2013

Do you like this?

I've had many days that I was incredibly proud to be a United Methodist. Many of those have been after natural disasters struck and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) was, as always, one of the first and most important responders. Other days of pride have come when I was reminded of incredible works of compassion like Imagine No Malaria, which has helped cut in half deaths due to malaria in less than a decade. I was even rather proud today to learn that UMC pastor Adam Hamilton would be preaching at the Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service.

Things like these are some of the reasons I've given before for why I am (still) a United Methodist. My recent post on why I love Wesleyan theology represents another point of pride.

And I've had plenty of reservations and frustrations and days when I was embarrassed to be a United Methodist. Watching the catastrophe that was General Conference 2012 was tough. Perhaps best summed up by the tweet, "UMC Judicial Council orders Titanic deck chairs returned to original position." You've seen other disappointments and frustrations in "Why the American UMC is Dying a (Somewhat) Slow Death," "The Stuck State of the UMC," "What does ordination mean?" and "How would John Wesley do bishops' elections?"

But today is probably the day I have been most ashamed to be a United Methodist. The cause for that shame is this joint press release from key representatives for United Methodist Women and the UM General Board of Church and Society.

The press release notes that it comes on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. It celebrates years "devoid of unnecessary deaths." It laments that "we continue to face opposition to keeping abortion safe, legal, accessible and rare." It laments rising maternal mortality rates and women who "die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth." It claims to await God's kingdom on earth, "in which all pregnancies are intended." It uses the word justice four times.

Not once does it mention the unnecessary deaths of unborn children that have come at the hands of people whose conveniences, preferences, or lifestyles were threatened far more than their physical well-being. Not once does it lament the deaths of unborn children or suggest further advocacy for them (other than a passing reference to abortion being rare). It suggests that unintended pregnancies would have no part in the kingdom of God, and even implies that abortion would be an appropriate option in those cases.

How in the world can you write a press release chock-full of "justice" and "kingdom of God" and "unnecessary deaths" without ONCE mourning the killing of unborn children?!?

How can you write this press release and use the word "rare" twice in passing without acknowledging how many abortion deaths are due to convenience, not threat to physical well-being?

by

January 22, 2013

Comments (3)

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We Need to Temper Our Shock

LIke Rev. Ray, I can write an essay on things that make me proud that I am a United Methodist. I could bore you for hours with things that embarrass me about being a United Methodist.

However, I am egregiously embarrassed by one of our pastors making one single issue the litmus test on whether one should be proud or embarrassed to be a United Methodist. It makes me want to ask, "Rev. Ray, don't you have a life?"

I am probably the most reluctant pro-choice clergy in the UMC: with our denomination, I know that sometimes abortion is the least lousy of a series of lousy choices, and that those choices need to be made by the woman, her partner, her doctor, and her pastor. At the same time, I also am appalled that almost 30 of the conceptions in this country are aborted. (Check the statistics in any Almanac for the accuracy of that statement!) There are a lot of easier and less traumatic (for all) ways to prevent an unwanted conception from occurring. We need to be preaching that if one wants to be sexually active, one needs to be responsible about it before getting into bed.

To condemn abortion as the single, most important, and even only issue is to ignore preaching the wholeness in life to which Christ taught us to pursue and to live.

I, too, lament the demise of the Cokesbury local stores. At the same time, I know that brick-and-mortar bookstores are closing right and left, and that these days, every online bookstore uses computerized catalogs from distributors like Ingram and others. We get what we pay for. If we want only to get "religious" books that pass muster with our sensibilities, we have to pay the cost of having brick-and-mortar stores. If we aren't willing to pay the financial cost of that luxury, we have to allow for the fact that cataloging is at best an art rather than a science, and not blame Cokesbury for being as much victimized by distributors as Rev. Ray feels.

Tom Griffith more than 1 years ago

One-sided message about abortion

I appreciate his statement, even if I'm not ready to defund the UMW. Whenever GBCS and the Women's Divison speak about the importance, dignity and rights of children, I have to wonder why they don't concern themselves with children before birth. It's just as incomplete as those on the "pro-life" side who seem to stop concerning themselves with children after birth. Justice pays attention to those who are weak and vulnerable. Children before birth are definitely weak and vulnerable, and adults exercise nearly unlimited power over them. Is this not a justice issue? Why does the child exercise no "choice" and the adult has it all? That's been the law for 40 years, but that does not make it just. Once our Social Principles saw abortion as "the tragic conflict of life with life". The current statement appears to see no tragedy or conflict at all.

Jeanne Devine more than 1 years ago

shocked

I am shocked that this article was given print space. For a licensed local pastor to advocate UMC churches dismantle their chapters and support of the United Methodist Women shows an abject lack of understanding for the depth and breadth of the organization's work and value. Instead of him offering dialogue, avenues of reconciliation or grace, he proposes his own death knell on a life-saving organization. Simply because a person is able to string together sentences in a coherent manner, is that reason to give him this public forum? I think the article and its incendiary sentiment more properly belongs under the "Good News" umbrella.

Pamela Nelson-Munson more than 1 years ago

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