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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 4:05 am 
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The French Revolution
As Evangelicals Falter, Catholics and Mormons Lead
Evangelical Protestants are failing the social conservative movement. Why?
By David French, February 04, 2011

On January 23, 2011, I stood, overwhelmed, in front of almost 2,000 pro-life students. I was overwhelmed by their energy, by their commitment to defending the defenseless, and by their gracious and Godly spirit. For years I've traveled the country, speaking to thousands of evangelical students, and find myself—even in front of "activist" organizations—virtually pleading for a sliver of courage or a trace of commitment in support of life or marriage. In response, I get encouragement, good words, and all too often nothing else.

But on January 23, it was different. Instead of inspiring, I was inspired. Rather than exhorting others to greater levels of engagement, I was admonished for my own compromises. The contrast between that day and most of my days—the difference between that audience and most of my audiences—could not have been more profound. And this audience was largely Catholic, and the Catholic Church for almost forty years has been the beating heart of the American pro-life movement.

On November 4, 2008, defenders of traditional marriage won perhaps their greatest—and to the secular liberal establishment, most shocking—victory in the almost decade-long struggle against the redefinition of marriage. Proposition 8, a state constitutional amendment establishing marriage as the union of one man and one woman, won a clear majority in California. Although outspent and vilified by the mainstream media, religious Californians opened their checkbooks, donated their time, and endured the scorn of the secular elite to overturn California's judicially-imposed same-sex marriage regime. And where did a wildly disproportionate number of dollars and volunteers come from? The LDS church.

As devout Catholics and faithful Mormons step forward boldly, evangelical Protestants appear in cultural disarray. The most popular of the new generation of evangelical pastors—Rick Warren and Joel Osteen—stay out of the cultural fray. Evangelical youth may have orthodox opinions on marriage or life, but they're increasingly reluctant to voice those opinions, lest they appear "divisive" or "intolerant." In fact, at times it appears as if much of the evangelical world has retreated into a defensive crouch, eager to promote its universally-loved work for the poor while abjectly apologizing for the cultural battles of years past.

Why are Catholics and Mormons increasingly bold when so many evangelicals are increasingly timid? Why are Catholics so often leading on life and Mormons so often leading on marriage? The answer, I think, is theological and cultural, two words that expose profound weaknesses in American evangelicalism.

First, theology. One cannot spend five minutes with thoughtful Catholics without understanding how the defense of life is a fundamental and integral part of the DNA of the church. Since the defense of life is theologically-grounded, it is functionally and practically independent of any secular ideology. Nuns who one day attend a sit-in for immigrant rights may the next day do sidewalk counseling outside of Planned Parenthood. Bishops, "progressive" or conservative, defend life in Catholic hospitals. Catholics who study church doctrine, who immerse themselves in the teachings of the church, understand that to defend life is to imitate Christ. Life is not just an "issue," for a Catholic; it is at the core of the Gospel.

Next, culture. The Mormon church knows what it is like to live outside the mainstream. Born in an atmosphere of violent persecution, with a cultural heritage buttressed by their own perilous trek across the wilderness to the haven of Utah, and with strong emphases on family and church bonds, the Mormon culture is inherently resilient in the face of cultural headwinds. Two-year missions teach Mormon children about selfless service but also how to face rejection and even scorn. Evangelicals, by contrast, are often shocked when co-workers turn on them, or when the country drifts from its heritage. Mormons aren't so easily shaken. After all, the country wasn't theirs to begin with.

For all our many virtues (and there are many: American evangelicals are among the most generous and loving people in the world), we generally have no conception of—or particular loyalty to—"church teaching" and tend to see marriage and life as "issues" rather than integral parts of our core theology. Since we're busy being spiritual entrepreneurs, revolutionizing the whole concept of church every 90 seconds, we don't have the kind of (relative) theological stability that has marked almost 2,000 years of Catholic history, and we can't come close to matching the (again, relative) uniformity of teaching that marks the Mormon experience.

We also lack the shared Catholic and Mormon culture and the solidarity that comes with it. We're more unified than we've been in the past, but we're a collection of subcultures that comprise a shaky, larger whole. And we are often desperate for acceptance. We view the transient scorn of popular culture as a virtual cataclysm, and our distressingly common health and wealth gospels wrongly teach us that Christian faith carries with it measurable earthly pleasures. We lack a theology of suffering. We lack a unity of purpose. And our convictions all too often collapse in the face of strong cultural opposition.

Simply put, we evangelicals are blown and tossed by the cultural winds. Right now, the winds are blowing against us, and our young people are reluctant to engage. But God is sovereign, and the fate of the nation is in His hands, not ours. And if we fail, there are others—some from an ancient tradition, some from a new one—who may very well carry out His work with more faith and courage than we ever could.

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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 11:10 am 
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"Since the defense of life is theologically-grounded, it is functionally and practically independent of any secular ideology."

I disagree with this part. I heard Archbishop Dolan on the radio recently and he said we don't oppose abortion because scripture tells us to, or because tradition tells us to; we oppose abortion because reason tells us to.

It is precisely because this is not a theological issue that we can come into the public square so forcefully. I've talked to some evangelical friends my age who seem to come at everything from a biblical perspective and see abortion/marriage as theological issues and therefore are less willing to bring their view into politics.

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THE TIMES are nightfall, look, their light grows less;
The times are winter, watch, a world undone:
They waste, they wither worse; they as they run
Or bring more or more blazon man’s distress.
And I not help. Nor word now of success:
All is from wreck, here, there, to rescue one—
Work which to see scarce so much as begun
Makes welcome death, does dear forgetfulness.
Or what is else? There is your world within.
There rid the dragons, root out there the sin.
Your will is law in that small commonweal…
G.M. Hopkins.



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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 12:47 pm 
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Miserere wrote:
"Since the defense of life is theologically-grounded, it is functionally and practically independent of any secular ideology."

I disagree with this part. I heard Archbishop Dolan on the radio recently and he said we don't oppose abortion because scripture tells us to, or because tradition tells us to; we oppose abortion because reason tells us to.

It is precisely because this is not a theological issue that we can come into the public square so forcefully. I've talked to some evangelical friends my age who seem to come at everything from a biblical perspective and see abortion/marriage as theological issues and therefore are less willing to bring their view into politics.

All issues are theological. All valid value judgments are based on Gods perspective. A strictly secular value judgment has no foundation and is therefore worthless.



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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 1:00 pm 
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I think it's both scripture and reason.

I think many evangelicals are, rightly or wrongly, scarred by and/or scared of being associated with movements like the Moral Majority and Christian Coalition. That's no excuse but I think it's the reality.

There is also a stream of the evangelical church that believe it is unbiblical to be involved politically. I've definitely encountered that from church leaders and members.

I am involved in the prolife cause locally and most of the other people involved tend to be Catholic. Shame on the evangelical church. The unfortunate thing is not only do we tend to be disengaged politically but also shrink from sharing the gospel. There is a definite need for true revival.

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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 1:13 pm 
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jdbrown wrote:
Miserere wrote:
"Since the defense of life is theologically-grounded, it is functionally and practically independent of any secular ideology."

I disagree with this part. I heard Archbishop Dolan on the radio recently and he said we don't oppose abortion because scripture tells us to, or because tradition tells us to; we oppose abortion because reason tells us to.

It is precisely because this is not a theological issue that we can come into the public square so forcefully. I've talked to some evangelical friends my age who seem to come at everything from a biblical perspective and see abortion/marriage as theological issues and therefore are less willing to bring their view into politics.

All issues are theological. All valid value judgments are based on Gods perspective. A strictly secular value judgment has no foundation and is therefore worthless.


Oops, meant to hit the quote box on your post but hit the like thingy instead (not that I don't like you!). But how do explain how an atheist like Nate Hentoff is staunchly pro-life if one can only reach a pro-life position by their theological perspective?

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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 1:31 pm 
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goalieman wrote:
Oops, meant to hit the quote box on your post but hit the like thingy instead (not that I don't like you!). But how do explain how an atheist like Nate Hentoff is staunchly pro-life if one can only reach a pro-life position by their theological perspective?

A person can come to the correct conclusion about an issue but for the wrong reasons. The problem with abortion is not so much that a human being is killed, but that God forbids that we do it.


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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 3:08 pm 
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jdbrown wrote:
Miserere wrote:
"Since the defense of life is theologically-grounded, it is functionally and practically independent of any secular ideology."

I disagree with this part. I heard Archbishop Dolan on the radio recently and he said we don't oppose abortion because scripture tells us to, or because tradition tells us to; we oppose abortion because reason tells us to.

It is precisely because this is not a theological issue that we can come into the public square so forcefully. I've talked to some evangelical friends my age who seem to come at everything from a biblical perspective and see abortion/marriage as theological issues and therefore are less willing to bring their view into politics.

All issues are theological. All valid value judgments are based on Gods perspective. A strictly secular value judgment has no foundation and is therefore worthless.


Yes, fundamentally everything is theological. What I meant to say is that my evangelical friends see these issues as strictly Christian viewpoints and therefore they think we shouldn't push for them too hard in a pluralistic society.

I think, however, any person can know murder is wrong and can therefore know the unborn child shouldn't be killed. Christian revelation doesn't enter into it necessarily.

Let me quote from Written on the Heart by Jay Budziszewski,
"The Bible maintains that God has not left himself without a witness among the pagans (Acts 14:17). In contrast to special revelation, provided by God to the community of faith, this may be called general revelation because it is provided by God to all mankind. According to Scripture is comes in at least five forms: (1) the testimony of creation, which speaks to us of a glorious, powerful and merciful Creator (Ps 19:1-6; 104; Acts 14:17; Romans 1:20); (2) the fact that we are made in the image of God, which not only gives us rational and moral capacities but also tells us of an unknown Holy One who is different from our idols (Genesis 1:26-27; Acts 17:22-23); (3) the facts of our physical and emotional design, in which a variety of God's purposes are plainly manifest (Romans 1:26-27); (4) the law of conscience, written on the heart, which, like the law of Moses, tells us what sin is but does not give us power to escape it (Romans 2:14-15); (5) the order of causality, which teaches us by linking every sin with its consequences (Proverbs 1:31).
So it is that unconverted Gentiles, who have neither waited at the foot of Sinai nor sat at the feet of Jesus, are still accountable to God."

Anyway, he goes on to quote Romans 2:14-15 that's referenced above: "For when the Gentiles who do not have the law, by nature observe the prescriptions of the law, they are a law for themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the demands of the law are written in their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even defend them..."

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THE TIMES are nightfall, look, their light grows less;
The times are winter, watch, a world undone:
They waste, they wither worse; they as they run
Or bring more or more blazon man’s distress.
And I not help. Nor word now of success:
All is from wreck, here, there, to rescue one—
Work which to see scarce so much as begun
Makes welcome death, does dear forgetfulness.
Or what is else? There is your world within.
There rid the dragons, root out there the sin.
Your will is law in that small commonweal…
G.M. Hopkins.



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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 5:59 pm 
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jdbrown wrote:
goalieman wrote:
Oops, meant to hit the quote box on your post but hit the like thingy instead (not that I don't like you!). But how do explain how an atheist like Nate Hentoff is staunchly pro-life if one can only reach a pro-life position by their theological perspective?

A person can come to the correct conclusion about an issue but for the wrong reasons. The problem with abortion is not so much that a human being is killed, but that God forbids that we do it.


But those two conclusions, I would argue, are in harmony with each other. What would be a "wrong" reason for wanting to stop abortion? God's moral law is written on every persons conscience, some advocate for that law while rejecting He who put it on their conscience in the first place, while many others reject both the law and law giver.

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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 6:30 pm 
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goalieman wrote:
But those two conclusions, I would argue, are in harmony with each other. What would be a "wrong" reason for wanting to stop abortion? God's moral law is written on every persons conscience, some advocate for that law while rejecting He who put it on their conscience in the first place, while many others reject both the law and law giver.

I agree with you on this. There are a number of politically conservative atheists that oppose abortion. S.E. Cupp is an example of this. She was recently horribly insulted by Olbermann (I think that's who it was) and I felt so bad for her. They recognize the humanity of the unborn and understand that if we don't defend all of humanity then eventually it will be us without a defender. I also agree that written on their hearts (even if they don't see it) is God's moral law. Just as laws against the murder of already born adults and children can be defended on non-religious grounds so also laws against the murder of the unborn can be defended without a religious foundation. This whole article lost its persuasiveness for me when it appeared to put Mormons and Catholics in the same category. I see Catholics as part of Christendom, Mormons are not as they reject at least a portion of the Nicene creed. The Nicene Creed is one of the oldest and broadest extra-Biblical doctrinal statement in Christianity. If a church believes that creed then it is part of the broader Christian community. If it doesn't, it isn't.

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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 7:16 pm 
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goalieman wrote:
jdbrown wrote:
goalieman wrote:
Oops, meant to hit the quote box on your post but hit the like thingy instead (not that I don't like you!). But how do explain how an atheist like Nate Hentoff is staunchly pro-life if one can only reach a pro-life position by their theological perspective?

A person can come to the correct conclusion about an issue but for the wrong reasons. The problem with abortion is not so much that a human being is killed, but that God forbids that we do it.


But those two conclusions, I would argue, are in harmony with each other. What would be a "wrong" reason for wanting to stop abortion? God's moral law is written on every persons conscience, some advocate for that law while rejecting He who put it on their conscience in the first place, while many others reject both the law and law giver.

I’m assuming you are a Christian and it is with this assumption that I give my answer.

It is not the death of the baby that is the issue with abortion. It is the fact that someone has committed murder that is the issue. It is the soul of the murder that is in jeopardy not the soul of the unborn baby. It is our responsibility as Christians to show a would be murderer that they are about to violate the law of God. The actual death of the baby is a matter for God.


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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 7:59 pm 
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The only way I can answer the above response is to suggest that you are spiltting hairs that really need not be split. If I'm an unborn baby, I'm more concerned with someone sparing me from being aborted than any other issue at that given moment. If an atheist convinces a woman to not go thru with an abortion, that's a good deed. It's not a deed that can gain one eternal salvation, as no amount of good deeds can do that, but it's a good deed on a human level none the less.

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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 8:10 pm 
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Jdbrown, I think we're talking about different things.

You're saying that in an ultimate sense abortion is worse for the abortionist and mother because they're committing really serious sin, whereas the baby is going to the after life with no actual sin and therefore blamelessly. Therefore, we ought to be more concerned about the ones who are sinning (leaving aside the question of the moral culpability of the parties involved which I'm sure in many cases is diminished due to ignorance).

That's good and fine. We're simply saying that anyone should be able to see that one shouldn't abort a baby by reason.

The civil law is concerned not with keeping people from sin but with protecting the innocent, protecting rights, maintaining justice, keeping order, etc. There is a right to life that's violated in abortion. That's what we're talking about.

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THE TIMES are nightfall, look, their light grows less;
The times are winter, watch, a world undone:
They waste, they wither worse; they as they run
Or bring more or more blazon man’s distress.
And I not help. Nor word now of success:
All is from wreck, here, there, to rescue one—
Work which to see scarce so much as begun
Makes welcome death, does dear forgetfulness.
Or what is else? There is your world within.
There rid the dragons, root out there the sin.
Your will is law in that small commonweal…
G.M. Hopkins.


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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 9:57 pm 
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Miserere wrote:
Jdbrown, I think we're talking about different things.

You're saying that in an ultimate sense abortion is worse for the abortionist and mother because they're committing really serious sin, whereas the baby is going to the after life with no actual sin and therefore blamelessly. Therefore, we ought to be more concerned about the ones who are sinning (leaving aside the question of the moral culpability of the parties involved which I'm sure in many cases is diminished due to ignorance).

That's good and fine. We're simply saying that anyone should be able to see that one shouldn't abort a baby by reason.

The civil law is concerned not with keeping people from sin but with protecting the innocent, protecting rights, maintaining justice, keeping order, etc. There is a right to life that's violated in abortion. That's what we're talking about.

It is because we as a nation have abandoned theology and embraced secularism that we have such a problem with abortion. So, I’m not so sure your appeal to human reason will avail much.


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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 12:23 am 
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jdbrown, appeals to reason are working. Abortion is becoming less and less acceptable to Americans. That's happening at the same time that Americans are becoming more and more secular. Certainly those of us who are Christians are called to evangelize but there is no reason why we can't use reason to defend the unborn.

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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 1:02 am 
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It is actually essential that all Christians realize that the social issues are not matters of faith being imposed on all, including unbelievers, but that these are issues which speak to both faith AND reason.

If we only discuss it in terms of faith, then those who reject God are actually given a valid excuse for such immorality. And I know many Christians who are reluctant to oppose same-sex marriage because they have no perception of its detrimental effects outside of their belief system.

It is as St. Paul says, we must reach people where they are at rather than where we want them to be.



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How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.
-Psalm 1:1-3


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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 1:58 am 
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Your point in relationship to this discussion being...?


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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 2:57 am 
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Miserere wrote:
I heard Archbishop Dolan on the radio recently and he said we don't oppose abortion because scripture tells us to, or because tradition tells us to; we oppose abortion because reason tells us to.

It is precisely because this is not a theological issue that we can come into the public square so forcefully.

I know there has been some elaboration of this downthread, but I was little startled when I read this. I thought surely the Archbishop miss-spoke. Or, surely this quote is lacking something without its context.

I ask myself, is the following based purely [sans scripture, tradition, theology] on "reason"?:

Quote:
'Given such unanimity in the doctrinal and disciplinary tradition of the Church, Paul VI was able to declare that this tradition is unchanged and unchangeable. 72 Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops-who on various occasions have condemned abortion and who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement concerning this doctrine-I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church's Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. 73' -- Evangelium vitae, § 62.3, Pope John Paul II, March 25, 1995

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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 9:41 am 
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VertiCon wrote:
Miserere wrote:
I heard Archbishop Dolan on the radio recently and he said we don't oppose abortion because scripture tells us to, or because tradition tells us to; we oppose abortion because reason tells us to.

It is precisely because this is not a theological issue that we can come into the public square so forcefully.

I know there has been some elaboration of this downthread, but I was little startled when I read this. I thought surely the Archbishop miss-spoke. Or, surely this quote is lacking something without its context.

I ask myself, is the following based purely [sans scripture, tradition, theology] on "reason"?:

Quote:
'Given such unanimity in the doctrinal and disciplinary tradition of the Church, Paul VI was able to declare that this tradition is unchanged and unchangeable. 72 Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops-who on various occasions have condemned abortion and who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement concerning this doctrine-I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church's Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium. 73' -- Evangelium vitae, § 62.3, Pope John Paul II, March 25, 1995


Well, for Catholics, I don't think it is purely a matter for reason. But, certainly it could be for anyone contemplating the morality of abortion.
One crucial sentence of that statement is, "This doctrine is based upon the natural law..." I.e. it's based upon right reason.

I guess the way evangelicals and Catholics see authority in the church accounts for some of the different approaches to politics as well. The bishops always say, a) you're to be engaged in politics, at least by voting, b) bioethics and sex ethics are elements of natural law and non-negotiable.

So it's really a case of ecclesial authority pointing to natural realities.

_________________
THE TIMES are nightfall, look, their light grows less;
The times are winter, watch, a world undone:
They waste, they wither worse; they as they run
Or bring more or more blazon man’s distress.
And I not help. Nor word now of success:
All is from wreck, here, there, to rescue one—
Work which to see scarce so much as begun
Makes welcome death, does dear forgetfulness.
Or what is else? There is your world within.
There rid the dragons, root out there the sin.
Your will is law in that small commonweal…
G.M. Hopkins.


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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 10:15 am 
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The problem with abortion is not so much that a human being is killed, but that God forbids that we do it.

God forbids it because a human being is killed. God has reasons for what He forbids and permits.This is why when we follow His way we're at peace-and when we don't follow His way we end up miserable.Even destroying ourselves.This is why an atheist like SE Cup is pro life.She knows in her heart that abortion is wrong even though she doesn't attribute that knowledge to God.Many people-unless their intellect is so totally darkened-get that some things are just wrong.

I always thought evangelicals were just as strong as Catholics re abortion and some more so.What irks me a great deal is these supposed Catholic politicians.They think you leave the faith off at the door when you go to vote or pass legislation. Pelosi is a great example of that. I know what the Church teaches.It amazes me that any Catholic could have even considered voting Obama. I'm supporting Herman Cain this time around.He gets my vote.
He and Huckabee were both Baptists.They are both strongly pro life.
What i don't like is that people don't consider a conservative candidate unless it's due to economic problems like we have now. If it's over social issues the conservative has less chance of getting elected.
All of us-Evangelical,Catholic,Protestant and Mormon MUST vote Obama out in 2012.
Also,i'm not sure Mormons are all on the same page re abortion.For Catholics the teaching is clear even if they choose to ignore it.Abortion is intrinsically evil and this is a non negotiable.

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