As many know, Senator Obama told Planned Parenthood in 2007 that “the first thing I’d do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.” But how many of us know what the "Freedom of Choice Act" (hereafter FOCA) entails? Here's an attempt to explain what this would mean. It's important to note at the outset that this congressional statute is often presented as codifying Roe v. Wade. Hence, if Roe was ever overturned, FOCA would prevent things from changing. While this is true, FOCA goes far beyond this. The 2007 version of FOCA (for the House bill, see H.R. 1964; for the Senate bill, see S. 1173) includes the following provision:A government may notSection 6 adds:(1) deny or interfere with a woman’s right to choose –(A) to bear a child;(2) discriminate against the exercise of the rights set forth in paragraph (1) in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information.
(B) to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability; or
(C) to terminate a pregnancy after viability where termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman; orThis Act applies to every Federal, State, and local statute, ordinance, regulation, administrative order, decision, policy, practice, or other action enacted, adopted, or implemented before, on, or after the date of enactment of this Act.The section highlighted above in bold italics means that FOCA, if passed, will accomplish two things:
The National Organization of Women says that FOCA "would sweep away hundreds of anti-abortion laws, policies." Planned Parenthood says FOCA "would invalidate existing and future laws that interfere with or discriminate against the exercise of the rights protected." What are some of these state laws? The Family Research Council has complied the following list:
- it would invalidate all current and future statutes, ordinances, regulations, administrative orders, decisions, policies, or practices--at any level of government--that regulate or restrict abortion in any way;
- it would mandate taxpayer funds to be used at the state and federal level for abortion services (not to do so would discriminate against the "rights" of abortion set forth in the bill).
One of the states that has had FOCA-type acts on the books since 1991 is Maryland. The result of eliminating all restrictions and regulations, unsurprisingly, is that the Maryland rate of abortion has risen while the national rate of abortion has fallen. Some people reading the Freedom of Choice Act notice that is says a woman has a "right to choose" "to terminate a pregnancy after viability where termination is necessary to protect the life or health of the woman" (my emphasis). A surface-reading of FOCA (which is seeking to codify Roe v. Wade) might suggest that there is a meaningful, legitimate restriction on late-term, post-viable abortions, namely that abortions are allowed only in cases where a woman would die or be physically harmed. But this simply isn't true. Roe v. Wade was handed down on the same day as Doe v. Bolton, and Justice Blackmun said they were to be read together. Doe defines maternal health to include virtually any factor: "emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age." The effect is abortion on demand--abortion for any reason. So to summarize this act--which again, Barack Obama has promised to sign as his first order of business in the White House--abortion on demand will become codified, all regulations and restrictions will be stripped away, Christian hospitals and physicians will not have a choice regarding the performance of abortion (since their accrediting agencies are approved by the federal government), and teenagers will not have to tell their parents about an abortion.
- All 50 states have abortion reporting requirements
- 46 states have conscience-protection laws for individual health-care providers
- 44 states have laws about parental notification
- 40 states have laws restricting late-term abortions
- 38 states have bans on partial-birth abortions
- 33 states have laws requiring counseling before an abortion
- 16 states have laws about having ultrasounds before an abortion
Friday, October 31, 2008
I've heard about the Freedom of Choice Act but had no idea what it was. I found the following blog by Justin Taylor informative.
Over the past 30 years many churches have focused on building and developing programs as a means to grow the church. This approach has had a lot of success in bringing people into the church, and in many cases helping people enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ. The thinking has been, “The more effective programs you have the more people you will attract to your church.” There is nothing wrong with this approach and it has been blessed by God in thousands of churches across the country.
When I first came to Journey I said that it was not my primary intention to “grow the church.” I said that the reason I came to Journey was to extend the
In the New Testament, the "Kingdom of God" doesn't refer to a geographical boundary (John 18:36). When the New Testament speaks of the
it is referring to the reign of God in the hearts of people. Every time a person opens their heart to the Lordship of Jesus Christ the Kingdom of God expands to one more person. This is what God celebrates … when he reigns in the heart. Biblically speaking, this is Kingdom expansion. Kingdom of God
So our question becomes, “How can a church facilitate this kind of Kingdom expansion?” There is a growing discussion among church leaders across the country about the shifting focus from developing programs to developing people. Personally, I believe we’ll be more effective at “extending the Kingdom” if we focus on people rather than church programs. When we focus on programs our focus is on …well, programs and not people. We can develop a great program but never really develop a person. The two aren't the same. Consider the difference in approach:
Program Development Vs. People Development*Standardized approach ---------------------------Individually customized
Scripted pattern -------------------------------------- Shaped (life coaching)
Participation -------------------------------------------- Life transformation
(get more people in the programs)
Didactic ------------------------------------------Everyone discovers together
(someone stands up and lectures)
Delivery of information ----------------------- Debriefing life experiences
Curriculum guided ----------------------------------------- Life-centric
Plugged in (to existing church programs)------------------------- Pushed out
(to make a difference in the world)
Growing into service ----------------------------- Growing through service
Generationally "silo-ed" ---------------------------- Inter-generational
Compartmentalized (in life) ------------------------------ Integrated
(life and spirituality)
Artificial ----------------------------------------------------------- Organic
Build the organization ------------------------------------- Develop people
Do you see the difference? If you do, then you understand Journey Christian Church a little better. Although there is nothing wrong with it, our focus is not on having a lot of programs by which we try and attract people to our church. We try and simplify our approach in order to focus on people. We try to create and develop environments where people can grow. We focus on people serving people and we believe that our personal growth comes from serving, not from being served.
Ultimately we're less concerned about how many people show up and much more concerned about the state of a person's heart. Having lots of people in a room does not mean that Kingdom expansion is occurring. Kingdom expansion is a matter of the heart and since this is true we will focus on relationships. Our mission statement at Journey is to invite and lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. The better we are at accomplishing our mission, the more the Kingdom will grow.
So, how's your relationship with Jesus Christ?
*Source: Greg Nettle
Saturday, October 18, 2008
It is a risky thing to post something about abortion in a heated political season. However, I found the following blog by Randy Alcorn to be an interesting read. I felt like he was fair, respectful, and truthful about his own convictions.
Judge for yourself.
What do you think? I'd like to hear your thoughtful and respectful comments.
Judge for yourself.
A year and a half ago, when I first heard about Barack Obama, I got excited. I really wanted to support him. An evangelical Christian told me Obama was prolife. I didn’t care that Obama was a Democrat. I wanted a pro-life, pro-environment, pro-racial equality president who took seriously our need to care for the poor and defend the needy.
Granted, I also wanted someone who wasn’t a New Age anti-industry activist with a “Meat is Murder” bumper sticker. I wanted someone who is committed to national defense, but knows when not to go on offense. I wanted someone who doesn’t hear every Douglas fir screaming when it’s cut down.
But, frankly, I relished the opportunity to show I wasn’t a lockstep Republican. I was, and still am, tired of the Pat Robertson sort of Republicanism that supported proabortion-Republican-who-publicly-cheated-on-his-wife Rudy Giuliani because he's the only guy who could beat Hillary. (This was a non-prophetic endorsement on too many levels to count.)
That Barack Obama is an African-American was a real plus to me, and not for superficial reasons. I believed it could help further the vision of Martin Luther King in my favorite speech of the modern era, in which he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” I get tears in my eyes just hearing that speech in my head.
I knew from the first time I heard him speak that Obama was cool. And if the candidate I supported, for reasons of substance, also happened to be cool, that would be a nice plus. I coach high school tennis, and I like it when the kids like me. And hey, my generation invented the word cool! (Of course it also invented the word groovy, but....).
Then the sad day came. I checked out Obama's actual position on abortion and I was demoralized. I found that in every single vote related to the issue he's favored abortion, its legality and even the killing of children who survive abortion.
But Obama is savvy. He wants to attract young voters, including young evangelical Christians who are sort-of-prolife. He knows to say that he favors reducing or limiting abortions. Which is like limiting rather than criminalizing murder and rape and kidnapping and slavery. A candidate could say “I’m personally opposed to rape,” while he has a 100% voting record favoring the legality of rape. And he could say he favors limiting or reducing the number of rapes. But if he actually supports the legality of the hideous crime of rape, discerning people would see through his rhetoric of rape-reduction.
When I discovered Obama was an all-out defender of legalized child-killing, I was disappointed beyond words. And I knew that in the next election, I was not going to get to be cool.
Well, here we are, and I have been asked what I think about the evangelical brothers and sisters who support Obama despite his uncompromising pro-choice stance. I have specifically been asked about Don Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, because Don prayed at the Democratic Convention and has been widely quoted as a supporter of Obama.
On a previous blog I wrote about Obama and McCain, Leanne left in her comment a link to an interview with Don Miller, concerning his support for Barack Obama. (I’m glad she did.) I recommend that you hear directly from Don, who is prolife. Perhaps you should read that interview now so you really hear what he's saying.
I have hesitated to say anything publicly, but there's so much conversation that has been generated by Don's endorsement of Obama, I think I need to. By the way, as soon as I post this, I'm going to send a link to this blog to Don to tell him if he wants to respond I'll publish anything he has to say in a follow-up blog. (This is the same morning I posted this blog, and I just got an email response from Don; I've just deleted a few things that he thought were unfair, though my overall thoughts remain the same.)
First, Don is a friend of mine, and a good brother. He is sharp, kind-hearted, interesting and genuinely funny. He is also sincere. I enjoy hanging out with him, though I don't get to as much as I'd like, four times I think in the last couple of years. By the way, I was one of the pastors at (and am still part of) the church in the suburbs he went to, which he says in Blue Like Jazz was like "going to church at The GAP." I got a good laugh out of that and many other things he said.
A while ago, Don and I had coffee (something we're one on) and talked about things mostly that we agreed about, and some on which we disagreed. You can disagree and still be friends and brothers and Christ-followers, you know.
Don and I agreed that day at Starbucks that many Republican Christians have been used by the Republican Party. We agree that there are other important issues besides abortion and homosexual marriage. (Again, I repeat, Don is not proabortion, he is prolife; he says he has stated his disagreement with Obama on this issue, and I believe him.) Among those common concerns we have are racial justice and concern for the poor, and stewarding the environment. Of course, not all with the same concerns agree on which programs and policies are, in the long run, most helpful in furthering these righteous causes.
Don and I agreed that day that Christians should be first and foremost followers of Jesus, not political parties.
I went on record long ago as being unwilling to vote for a Republican nominee if he was not willing to stand up for the right to life of innocent children. (Don tells me that he too doesn't always vote with his party.) The prolife statement in the Republican platform is probably the most God-honoring thing it says, and if there's a Republican politician who doesn't hold to it, as Senator Bob Packwood didn't here in Oregon, there is no way I'll ever vote for him. Packwood never got my vote even though some Christian Republicans told me I should support him because he was conservative, at least until he was exposed for his sexual conduct. (Click here to compare what the Republican and Democratic Party platforms have to say about abortion.)
John McCain wasn’t my first choice for president. But at least McCain's a hero, he suffered for his country and fellow soldiers. And at least he thinks innocent children shouldn’t be slaughtered, and has consistently voted that way. And he's chosen a running mate who not only professes to be prolife but lived it out by valuing a precious Down Syndrome child that 80% of people would have aborted. McCain and Palin are far from perfect. But I believe they would honestly stick up for the most oppressed and violated people group in this nation, unborn children.
Of course, these days it’s especially not cool to support a Republican, even if he would defend innocent children, because Republicans are part of the party of George Bush, someone who is hated by cool people. (Nobody mentions that the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln, that opposed slavery; they were hated for that too.)
I am deeply concerned about the one, two or possibly three Supreme Court justices to be appointed in the next presidential term. If you listen to the candidates, it's obvious that McCain/Palin would make a concerted effort to choose justices likely to reverse Roe v. Wade and it is equally obvious that Obama/Biden would choose justices most likely to uphold Roe v. Wade.
So, does God care about who his children vote for? In many cases, with not much difference between them, I doubt it. But here's what he says about the needy and afflicted who have no one to help them and are on the brink of death:
"For God will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. He will take pity on the weak and the needy and save the needy from death. He will rescue them from oppression and violence, for precious is their blood in his sight." (Psalm 72:12-14)
The blood of weak and needy unborn children is precious in God’s sight. Please don't tell me abortion isn't the only issue. Of course it isn't. Treatment of the Jews wasn’t the only issue in 1940 Germany. Buying, selling and owning black people wasn’t the only issue in the United States of 1850. Nonetheless, both were the dominant moral issues of their day. Make no mistake about it. In our own day if we support a candidate who defends abortion, who is dedicated to that cause, we are supporting the killing of children. Yes, even if he’s the coolest candidate to come along in decades.
We will stand before the judgment seat of Christ for our decisions, and a vote is a decision in which we assume responsibility for the known beliefs and moral positions of the candidate.
This is not speculation, it is not a spin, it is demonstrable fact: Barack Obama IS committed to continuing the legalized killing of unborn children in this country.
Some Christians claim otherwise. But in his July 17, 2007 speech to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Obama said,
"We know that a woman's right to make a decision about how many children she wants to have and when— without government interference—is one of the most fundamental freedoms we have in this country. . . . I have worked on this issue for decades now. I put Roe at the center of my lesson plan on reproductive freedom when I taught constitutional law. . . So, you know where I stand. . . The first thing I'd do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That's the first thing that I'd do."
If you don't know about the Freedom of Choice Act, it was written by the most radical proabortion activists because they saw informed consent and parental consent laws being passed at the state level. They wanted something powerful that would dismantle anything that could serve to reduce abortions through requiring that people be told the truth before an abortion or before their sixteen year old, who can't be given an aspirin without their permission, can have an abortion.
Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in America. Obama standing in front of them and promising he's 100% on their side is the equivalent of a presidential candidate 160 years ago addressing an assembly of the owners of the slave ships, and saying, “If you elect me, the first thing I will do is sign an act that will insure slaves won’t be freed, and that nullifies any and all voter-approved state legislation that restricts slavery.” (And sadly, yes, even hearing this, some Christians would have campaigned for and voted for him.)
Now, “first thing” means first thing, right? So before helping the poor and protecting the environment and addressing the economy and national defense, what is President Obama going do? He's going to assure that abortion stays legal and that the numbers are NOT reduced, by signing an act that will devastate decades of work at the state level by the prolife movement. Requirements of parental notification and informed consent and bans on partial birth abortions? History, if Obama has his way.
When Obama made this promise, he was either lying or telling the truth. If he was lying, he has a serious character problem. If we can’t trust him to do this, why trust him to follow through on any other promise, including those for which evangelicals are supporting him?
Ironically, however, if Obama was not lying, then he has a far worse character problem. Why? Because he is committing himself to oppose the rights of unborn children to live. I would rather he be a liar than that he be the defender of the killing of weak and vulnerable children, the orphans and fatherless.
I think he is sincere and likable, but on this matter, a matter of enormous significance, it is no exaggeration to say he is standing in defiance of the Creator. (A Creator whose blessing we should not dare ask if we defend the legalized killing of the children He creates.)
It is certainly a bad thing to promise something good, then not carry out your promise, as some Republican politicians have done in the prolife arena. (But though I don't always agree with him, George Bush—dare I even bring up his name?—did appoint two Supreme Court judges who have shown a respect for prolife issues.)
But it is even worse to promise something bad, something that is in fact evil—the furthering of the shedding of innocent blood—and then keep your promise.
We may want to show the world that we Christians are cool enough to support the coolest political candidate who’s come along in decades. I really wanted to. But I just can’t get past child-killing. That's a price for coolness that's just too high.
If you want to hear directly from the candidates about their positions on the shedding of the innocent blood of the unborn, check out these interviews with Rick Warren at Saddleback Church. (Below the videos I close out with some Scripture that makes God's position on this issue pretty clear).
Obama on abortion: (if you are unable to view the video, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRswgN-Wf6g):
McCain on abortion: (if you are unable to view the video, to go www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzJdSlQYd0Q):
God on abortion (no video, just a transcript):
"Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech, for you must not profane the name of your God. I am the LORD." (Leviticus 18:21)
"Do this so that innocent blood will not be shed in your land, which the LORD your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed." (Deuteronomy 19:10)
"Therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will give you over to bloodshed and it will pursue you. Since you did not hate bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you." (Ezekiel 35:6)
Shedding innocent blood? Not cool.
Supporting and voting for those committed to the legalized shedding of innocent blood? You tell me.
What do you think? I'd like to hear your thoughtful and respectful comments.