It’s time for male clergy to stand up for reproductive rights – Baptist News Global
After the Supreme Court hearing of Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, people across the country are realizing that Roe vs. Wade is in jeopardy. Among those who sounded the alarm were a group of women clergy, and their voice has been a bugle call for women’s reproductive rights. They are at great risk of speaking openly about a controversial issue, and it is time that their male colleagues, like me, join them in these risks.
In some ways, it makes sense that the faith-based voices at the forefront of rights to make abortion safe and accessible are women, but reproductive justice isn’t just a women’s issue – it’s a women’s issue. of human rights. More than that, it’s a matter of faith. Male clergy should join their female colleagues in advocating for reproductive rights.
The Supreme Court’s questions appear to be aimed at ensuring that religion does not take center stage in these discussions.
Judge Samuel Alito asked Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart, “Are there any secular philosophers and bioethicists who argue that human rights begin at conception, or at some point other than viability? »
The inference seems to be that because some philosophers believe that life begins at conception, religion is not at stake in the Supreme Court decision. Such statements belie the central fact that the Supreme Court seems poised to impose a religious stance on the beginning of life on a country that overwhelmingly does not share that perspective.
The imposition of a theological position on our nation strikes at the heart of my religious beliefs. As an ordained American Baptist minister, one of the fundamental tenets of my faith is the separation of church and state. The government does not have to impose a theological position on a diverse nation.
“Religious understandings of early life differ.”
Religious understandings of early life differ. Our Jewish Neighbors reject the idea that life begins at conception. The same goes for our Muslim friends, who propose four months as when a fetus gains a soul.
Christian perspectives on this fundamental question run the gamut, and the influential position that life begins at conception is a recent invention. In the 1970s, even the Southern Baptist Convention was pro-choice, but decades of intense messaging from life advocates has left the impression that the Christian position is simply that life begins at conception.
Women’s access to reproductive health care and dignity are more important than these philosophical debates, anyway. When a person makes the decision to have an abortion, she makes the choice that suits her given her situation. To spill Roe vs. Wade only serves to push these decisions into the dark.
I have to wonder how many women will make the decision not to seek pastoral conversations on the subject because of the increased shame and guilt. What was already a vulnerable conversation becomes more difficult in this climate. Worse still, laws like those in Texas could criminalize pastoral counseling that helps women make choices that are right for them.
“It’s time for the clergy to come out of the shadows.”
My faith makes it clear that I stand on holy ground when I affirm a woman’s right to choose. It’s time for male clergy like me to take the risk of saying it out loud. My colleagues will often admit that they hold this position, but they are afraid to speak out on such a controversial subject. Worse still, they might feel like as men they don’t have to, that it’s not their fight.
It is time for the clergy to come out of the shadows. Female clergy leading the fight for denominational support for reproductive rights may well be the light in the darkness that brings us home. Or at least it could lead us to the pulpit with courage.
Michael Woolf is senior minister of Lake Street Church of Evanston, a congregation of American Baptist Churches in the United States and the Alliance of Baptists in Evanston, Illinois. He earned a doctorate in theology from Harvard Divinity School, where he is currently a postdoctoral fellow. Follow him on Twitter @RevMichaelWoolf.
SBC calls for “the immediate abolition of abortion without exception or compromise”
Clergy, social workers and counselors fear being targeted by new Texas abortion law, which Supreme Court allows for now
United Methodists’ ‘reluctant pro-choice’ stance puts clergy and laity at odds with new Texas abortion law
When Being ‘Pro-Life’ Really Isn’t: How I Became an Anti-Abortion Democrat | Analysis by Chris Conley