Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"That they may be brought to perfection as one"

It’s always depressing to watch Christians fight – especially those so dedicated to the Gospel of Life. But today was a day when the forces of division won small battles in the war for love, unity, and life.

As reported in the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN),
Today during an Energy & Commerce hearing that covered the health impacts of mercury on the unborn Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill) challenged Rev. Mitch Hescox, President & CEO, of the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) on his pro-life views.
"The life in pro-life denotes not quality of life but life itself," said Rep. Shimkus.
EEN’s blog also refers to a statement of the Cornwall Alliance, which made a staunch defense of maintaining the purity of what it means to be pro-life. The Alliance is not pleased about any association of mercury poisoning with issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem-cell research. Here’s some of their statement:
Consequently, calling mercury pollution and similar environmental causes pro-life obscures the meaning of pro-life. And thanking politicians with 100% pro-abortion voting records (even some who support partial-birth abortion) for their “pro-life” position because they supported restrictions on mercury emissions, while rebuking some with 100% pro-life voting records because they opposed or didn’t support the new restrictions, as EEN’s campaign did, will confuse voters, divide the pro-life vote, and postpone the end of abortion on demand in America.
This doesn’t mean we should ignore environmental risks. It does mean they should not be portrayed as pro-life. Genuinely pro-life people will usually desire to reduce other risks as well—guided by cost/benefit analysis. But to call those issues “pro-life” is to obscure the meaning of the term. 
Two fundamental principles distinguish truly pro-life issues (like abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research) from environmental issues. First and foremost, truly pro-life issues are issues of actual life and death, while environmental issues tend to be matters of health. Second, truly pro-life issues address actual intent to kill innocent people, whether the unborn, the gravely ill, or the aged, while environmental issues do not. [Emphasis original]
If environmental advocates still want to support mercury-emission reductions or other environmental causes, let them do so honestly and above board. But they should not promote those causes under the pro-life banner. That is at best badly misinformed, at worst dishonest.
We call on environmentalists to cease portraying such causes as pro-life and join us in working diligently to reduce and end abortion on demand in the United States, which every year kills about 1.2 million babies, amounting to over 54 million in the 39 years since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision.
News of this statement was picked up by The Hill, and the reader commentary below the story shows just how damaging all this is to the credibility of those who defend human life.

As I’ve stated often in this blog and in my columns – and as Pope Benedict XVI states in Caritas in Veritate, words which hover at the top of this blog – there is a link between human life and the environment. To be clear: a link is not an equivalency, but it is a relationship – and relationships are the infrastructure of what it means to be Christian.

Let this point also be clear: The slaughter of the unborn, which we euphemistically call abortion, is a symptom and an effect of our cultural cooperation with evil. Our shared goal, then, is to change the cultural acceptance of this cooperation. And so, if it takes a certain rational approach to change the hearts of some, and another rational approach to change the hearts of others, and a third, fourth, and fifth rational approach to change the hearts of many others, who would be against this? Is there but one way to preach the Gospel? Does not St. Paul remind us that there are many parts to the body, all with their own God-given gifts?
Therefore, I tell you that nobody speaking by the spirit of God says, “Jesus be accursed.” And no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the holy Spirit. There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophecy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes. (1 Corinthians 12:3-11)
Anti-abortion advocates can help their cause by allowing others, if this is their calling, to work for both human life and ecological ends, and to do so under the same titular umbrella. Indeed, there are many goods that can come from the dialogue between issues such as abortion and the public health implications of ecology. Here's one: When a person includes particular ecological issues in their definition of pro-life advocacy, they incarnationally mix among those whose more narrow ecological concerns can then become a path to conversion – to an adoption of the Gospel of Life and, thus, to become as convinced as anyone of the evil of murdering unborn children. Ecology, then, is not an enemy in the war against abortion. It is a weapon and a tool, one which we cast aside at our peril, and the peril of many, many unborn souls.

And so, shall we scatter, each in our own tribe, to the delight of our enemy? Or shall we come together and support the unique good works of each other?

In the hopes of the latter, I contacted the Cornwall Alliance this evening and thanked them for the good work that they do, without mentioning our differences, and offered my help as applicable. I here do the same for the folks at EEN. I make such offers in hope that in Christian fellowship, we can all do our share in defeating the forces of darkness and division with the words of Christ:
I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. (John 17:20-21).

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