I’ve been thinking for a while that the Trump presidency will be the final death of Evangelical Christianity as we know it. I’ve said for years that politics corrupts religion, and Evangelicals’ gross distortion of Scripture to match its politics has resulted in some truly hilarious moments. Anyone remember Andy Schlafly’s “Conservative Bible Project”? Or Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips’ wish to disband the United Methodist Church, a denomination with some 12 million members?
Anyway, I stumbled across this fascinating interview with Evangelical minister Rob Schenck, “once a militant leader of the anti-abortion movement, blockading access to clinics to prevent doctors and patients from entering,” who now disavows his militancy and believes abortion should be a personal choice.
It’s a fascinating interview with lots of good insight. One of the most pointed reflections is how those involved in movements like this lose sight of the mission’s original goal:
This became more about us, about me, about our need to win, to win the argument, to win on legislation, to win in the courts.
And, I’d add, the need to “win” some relevancy in an increasingly secular culture.
Of course, the pro-choice movement has been saying this forever. If you really care about stopping abortion, then you know legally banning abortion doesn’t do that. Instead, you will embrace policies that support women and families. You will favor policies like universal healthcare, paid family leave, affordable day care, etc. Because the problem is that abortion is an economic issue, not a moral one. Anti-choicers have had this one wrong forever. They think it’s about sluts wanting to have sex without consequences.
Being so “pro-life” that you murder abortion providers is the gross, inevitable conclusion to this distorted view. Pastor Schenck says,
I will tell you that my acceptance of that responsibility had to come only after a long period of reflective prayer, of listening deeply to those who were gravely affected by those murders, in therapy with my own — I will be careful to say — Christian therapist, who helped me come to terms with what really happened and how I may have contributed to those acts of violence through my rhetoric, and eventually in a confrontation, a very loving one but nonetheless an encounter, a very strong, very powerful encounter, with the relative of one of the doctors shot and stabbed. … And it was … actually at a Passover Seder table when I was confronted very gently and very lovingly by a relative who happened to be a rabbi of that one abortion provider. In that moment, I realized my own culpability in those in those terrible, terrible events.
BTW, this is the second time I’ve written about Rob Schenck. The first time was when he was opposing Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the Supreme Court because, of course, Obama. I feel like we’ve come full circle.