Monday, February 24, 2014

Are Prolife Christians Really Prolife?

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Last week, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee issued a moratorium on capital punishment saying. There are too many doubts and too many flaws raised by its application.  Inslee concluded that the death penalty was inconsistently applied. He further stated that Equal justice under the law is the states primary responsibility. as such, in death penalty cases, I'm not convinced that equal justice is being served.

Inslee's moratorium on capital punishment follows the lead of many other governors throughout the country. In 2013, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper issued a similar moratorium for the same reasons as highlighted by Jay Inslee as did Oregon governor John Kitzhaber in 2011. The most noted of this rash of issued moratoriums rests with Illinois governor, George Ryan in 2000.

I think it only fair to inform the reader of my personal views on this subject so that my salient point is not lost. I am a Pro-life Christian. That is a term that generally evokes scorn in most people who regard themselves as enlightened and progressive. That is fine, I understand completely. In fact that I appreciate their scorn is partly the reason, I am writing this particular commentary. Let me explain:

No one likes a hypocrite. When someone takes an absolute position on an issue or a behavior, we have an expectation of sincerity and consistency. Well forgive if there is a show of (seeming) remorse on the part of the one caught in the lie, but only to a point. For the most part, well always tend to be just a bit skeptical around a proven liar or hypocrite for the remainder of their lives. When that person is someone in a position of power, the situation becomes somewhat muddled. We may hate the fact they lied to us or were hypocritical on one issue, but there are so many others we agree with them on that we regard it as a wash. This cognitive dissidence is challenging to surmount to an ideologue, hence our current state of political leadership.

Of the four governors I mentioned above, three of them belong to the Democratic Party. Of those three, all are morally against the death penalty for a host of reasons. Of course they cited what I regard as genuine procedural and Constitutional reasons as well, but for the most part, the impetus for the moratorium is ideological. The last governor I mentioned on the list is a member of the Republican Party. George Ryans rationale for the moratorium in Illinois, while he was governor, is not too dissimilar than that of the three Democrats. Here is the difference and what it is that troubles me so. Those who hold anti-death penalty views disproportionately tend to be members of the Democratic Party. This makes Governor George Ryan a rarity within his own political party. To me, this is a shame, but I'll circle back to just why I think that it a bit.

The three aforementioned Democratic Governors who have stated very publicly a host of moral and Constitutional reason for suspending the death penalty in their respective states all hold to the view that there is absolutely no problem with abortion. (Cue the groans from the reading audience. Abortion?? Again?? Give me a break!) Ah so you say, but wait. I do have an interesting point to make here and one which you may not be expecting.

Governor George Ryan stands apart from his colleagues not only in the Republican Party but from his Democratic colleagues who have issued moratoriums on capital punishment as well. What is this issue which separates them? George Ryan is truly pro-life; the others are hypocrites. Why do I say that? Well, the record speaks for itself. George Ryan not only issued a moratorium on capital punishment in Illinois, but he also holds that abortion is murder. In other words, he holds genuine pro-life views. Pro-life is pro-life period. The aforementioned Democratic governors are all pro-abortion; ergo they are not truly pro-life, but rather anti-death penalty. Their stand on abortion nullifies Their moral base for rejecting the death penalty.

I feel it necessary at this juncture to clarify specific parameters concerning killing before we go further. The act of war is a commentary all its own and I have long contemplated how I would like to write on the subject. War is sometimes inevitable, and in war, people die. I am not going to address that in this commentary. Suffice to say, I would very much like to see us as the human race progress beyond the need for war, but as long as ego and pride reign in the human heart, such will remain an impossibility. 

Likewise killing because you are defending yourself or others from imminent danger is one thing about which I have absolutely no qualms. There is cause and effect in our world, and if one attacks another with deadly intent, one had best be prepared to pay the ultimate price. That too is a separate issue which I have given much thought and may write about in a future commentary. However in the case of state-mandated, institutional killing, be it an execution, or an abortion, there is never the imminent threat to anyone save for the individual about to be exterminated.

I will now digress for a moment for an editorial comment. Please don't get sidetracked because I didn't use the politically correct buzzwords of anti-choice or pro-choice; these are manifest misnomers since from a medical standpoint a pregnant woman is carrying a separate, distinct being within her. Unless and until that being can be consulted as to their wishes respecting their lives, there is no choice argument to be made here. We are talking about abortion. If you are for it, embrace the terminology.

Abortion, even to those who believe in it, is uncomfortable for a host of reasons. On a basic, visceral level, we all know we are killing life which if left to its own devices would grow into a living, breathing human being. None goes into a hospital to have a sebaceous cyst or a tumor removed with the belief that if left to its own devices, these growths would manifest a living, breathing human being. A quick biopsy of the tissue would show that the DNA is an exact match for the host. A biopsy of a fetus within its mother's womb would show a completely separate DNA structure; a completely different, distinct being which just is not finished growing yet. This isn't ideological; it is a medical and scientific fact. Again a level of cognitive dissidence is employed to proceed upon the false premise one is not embracing a culture of death.

However, what of my friends on the other side of the political and ideological aisle; what of my Christian brothers and sisters who have absolutely no problem strapping a human being to a chair, a post, a medical gurney and taking their life? Are these people not engaging in the same level of cognitive dissidence they accuse the other side of possessing? Here is where the argument gets interesting, but sadly completely misses the central point of a pro-life stance.

Pro-life means precisely that: Profile. If one is to take a position that killing a living, breathing human being is wrong, especially when it is institutional killing, then we are forced to define what exactly defines a living, breathing human being.  Clearly, those who hold to more Progressive Liberal views have decided to themselves that the unborn are not living, breathing human beings and as such, are not entitled to those same rights and privileges. By contrast, those who hold to Conservative Christian views have decided that those who have committed certain crimes against their fellow man have forfeited their right to life. Thus at both ends of the spectrum, we have (seemingly) good people espousing a culture of institutionalized death and rationalize this point by stripping a human being of their humanity.

The cost to the state in appeals and housing of an inmate on death row is astronomical. When the typical length of time on death row is fifteen years, the dollars add up rather quickly. In the end, the execution is carried out with very little in actual return for the dollars spent. For an inmate securely locked away on death row, how is a society made any safer by then killing them? As a point of practical reality, it is not. As a point of law, I am not qualified to answer. I realize that a sentence must be carried out as imposed by a court of law, but we as a people have to begin looking at whether or not the imposition of certain types of sentences are not only wasteful from a fiscal standpoint but harmful to society as a whole. Let me explain:

When we glorify the institutional killing of another human being, what message do we send to our youth? I can only speak to my personal experience on this subject, but I have been against the death penalty for as long as I can remember. I would say that the most formative teachings I had on the subject were watching the documentary series, The World At War from the 1970s. Watching the bulldozers push piles of bodies into open pit graves while Lawrence Olivier somberly intoned the brutality of the Nazis made me physically ill. I was perhaps ten years old at the time. Asking my father, who had been in Germany right after Berlin fell why these people were killed. He explained that the Nazi government executed them. The word execution was negatively burned into my brain. A country could execute its populous and call it something good.

However, surely this wasn't something I as a citizen of the United States would have to worry about; our country wouldn't execute its own citizens so impersonally, would it? Well in the mid-1970s, executions had been suspended by the Supreme Court in 1972 via the decision Furman v. Georgia whereupon the Supreme Court found the death penalty being imposed unconstitutionally, violating the Eighth Amendment grounds of cruel and unusual punishment. (As a point of irony, this same court ruled that a woman's privacy rights implied under the 1st, 4th, 9th, and 14th Amendments granted her the ability to abort her unborn child just 12 months later. More on that later.) Then I saw a made for television movie called, The Execution of Private Slovik starring Martin Sheen.  I was just eleven years old at the time, and I haven't been able to watch the movie since such was the impact it had on me.

This from Wikipedia:

The Execution of Private Slovik is a nonfiction book by William Bradford Huie, published in 1954, and an American made-for-television movie that aired on NBC on March 13, 1974. The film was written for the screen by Richard Levinson, William Link and by Lamont Johnson who was the director, the film stars Martin Sheen.

The book and the film tell the story of Private Eddie Slovik, the only American soldier to be executed for desertion since the American Civil War.

In 1949, a Pentagon source revealed to Huie the existence of a European graveyard of unnamed American soldiers. Huies probe identified the grave and name of the only American soldier executed for desertion since the Civil War. The story of neer-do-well Eddie Slovik is an example of Huies masterful reporting and his tendency to anger the mighty. Eisenhower, who authorized the execution, tried to stop the book.

I am well aware that an example was being made of Slovik; desertion was not to be tolerated. Many American men and boys were killed in battle and did not necessarily want to be placed in harm's way any more than did Eddie Slovik. I realize now that the movie was also a great propaganda statement to keep the U.S. Supreme Court from lifting its ban by showing the humanity of those facing the ultimate punishment. What struck me was the institutionalized method of the execution. It was handled in much the same clinical manner as a tooth extraction. It'll hurt for a bit, but then it'll all be over. This incident also takes us back to equal justice under the law proviso. There were 49 death sentences for desertion handed down by the military courts during World War II, but only one execution was carried out.

Thus for good or for ill, the institutionalized killing of human beings by the state has always struck me as a grave evil which colors any of the good that may have come before or after. When we as a people place so low a premium on life, we can find ourselves rationalizing just about anything. Good people who march and protest against abortion, have absolutely no qualms about state-sponsored execution. Good people who march and protest against capital punishment, have absolutely no qualms about state-sponsored abortion. It could be said that the only ones who are against these rationalizations are those whose lives are about to be extinguished.

On the one hand, the argument is that individual humans have engaged in acts which have resulted in their state-sponsored deaths; they are responsible for their own actions. On the other hand, those facing extermination are not regarded as human beings at all despite all the evidence to the contrary. In both instances, it has become a matter of practicality to merely kill. Eddie Slovik was a troubled man with a life-long pattern of behavioral problems. He was initially classified as 4-F by the army as a result of his prior criminal record, but a workforce shortage resulted in a reclassification to 1-A. He was well aware of why he was the only one of the 49 men convicted of desertion to face death and said so. His last words in front of the firing squad were, "They're not shooting me for deserting the United States Army...thousands of guys have done that. They're shooting me for bread I stole when I was twelve years old."

As Christians, why are we so willing to allow state-sponsored executions? On the surface, this question almost seems laughable. Consider this case out of Florida. On November 4th, 1980, twenty-seven-year-old Larry Eugene Mann kidnapped ten-year-old Elisa Nelson as she was riding her bicycle to school after a dentist appointment. Without going into the details, suffice to say that Mann killed Elisa Nelson in a nearby orange grove. He murdered her, as she tried to fight him off. Due to the appeals process, it took 32 years for the State of Florida to execute Elisa's killer. Larry Mann was finally put to death on April 30th, 2013.

The case is horrific, and there is no way that I am going to attempt to dismiss Manns acts as anything other than depraved. To sate his own sexual lusts, he killed an innocent little girl and deprived her a life. Elisa would be forty-two years old today and most likely would be married with children of her own children that will never be born because of Larry Mann. When one contemplates the experiences, the joys, the sorrows, the successes, the defeats, the breadth of experiences lost due to a life taken so soon, there can be nothing other than sorrow. Larry Mann was evil. That is not in question. What is in question is our primary role as Christians. Mann was already behind bars and hadn't killed anyone in all of those 32 years of incarceration. Is it an affront for Mann to continue to draw breath while his tiny victim cannot? Mann would have never tasted freedom for the remainder of his life with or without the death penalty, and as a society, we would have taken the higher road by imposing equal justice under the law and leaving Manns eventual disposition to God Almighty.

However, killing is easy. Since Cain killed Abel, we've all become aware of just how fragile life is. Abels death wasn't the last through unnatural means outlined in the Bible; there are records of tens of thousands of murders--perhaps hundreds of thousands. I am going to point out some uncomfortable truths here which will not sit well with my fellow Christians. Because it is uncomfortable, doesn't make it any less true. Here is a passage from the book of Ezekiel:

Now the glory of God of Israel went up from above the cherubim, where it had been, and moved to the threshold of the temple. Then the Lord called to the man clothed in linen who had the writing kit at his side and said to him, Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.

As I listened, He said to the others, Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion. Slaughter old men, young men, and maidens, women and children, but do not touch anyone who has the mark. Begin at my sanctuary.

- Ezekiel 9:3-6

Here is an uncomfortable question for my fellow Christians: How is what the God of Israel who commanded the six soldiers to mark some and kill others any different from what Larry Mann did? Is it the opinion of these Christians that since the command came from God, any 10-year-old girls who were slaughtered by the Hebrew soldiers were more or less guilty than Elisa Nelson? As a point of fact, both were 10-year-old girls minding their own business, and both were murdered by the hands of men they did not know, nor cause offense. They were killed merely for what they were: 10-year-old girls. In one case, it was a matter of opportunity, in the other it was because she had the misfortune to have been born into a family which did not hold to the beliefs of the Hebrews, ergo, no mark upon her body by a stranger was allowed. For this, she was murdered and perhaps more.

I am not attempting to be melodramatic, but I am trying to illustrate just why it is that good Christians can be aghast at certain types of wanton murder, but then look away when other types of killing are committed. Of course, the rationalization of the murders committed in the Old Testament is that these were a people who deserved to die because they did not believe in the God of the Hebrews; they were, therefore, evil people and their deaths were on their own heads. I will state very clearly here and now that my understanding of scripture clearly shows that this thinking is absolutely in error. Let me explain:

I have often used this passage of scripture before because it is powerful. In it, we see Christ, who is God Almighty, dealing with a situation which under the Law (read the Old Testament Law given to Moses on Mount Sinai from an angel   [Acts 7:38, Galatians 3:19-20] ) was a capital offense:

At dawn, he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now, what do you say? They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

However, Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her. Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?

No one, sir, she said.

Then neither do I condemn you, Jesus declared. Go now and leave your life of sin.

- John 8:2-11

To be true to His earlier words and commands as outlined in the Law He supposedly wrote, should Christ not have aided in the stoning of the adulterous woman? Why did He allow her to live? Moreover, why did he countermand His own Law? Are we not taught that the God of the Old Testament and Christ are, one and the same? If so, why do they have such starkly different views on the pro-life question? Without any real debate, it is clear the Old Testament God has no problem killing those who displease him. Christs take is entirely different. The Old Testament Gods tactic is more along the lines of weeding out those who don't fit in, while Christ is interested more in total reconciliation.

When the Manson family killed Sharon Tate, her unborn baby and the others with her in Los Angeles in the summer of 1969; when they murdered the LaBiancas the next night, events were set into motion which eventually placed five people on death row in California. Charles Manson, Charles Tex Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkle and Leslie Van Houten all faced death in Californias notorious gas chamber for their parts in the grisly murders. Manson was 37 years old at the time of conviction. The other four were barely in their 20s. It was made clear at trial that these were kids who had been sucked into Manson's strange visions of a war and a subsequent utopian society in which they would be an integral part. This brainwashing by Manson didn't deter Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi from getting a conviction with a death penalty as punishment. It was only as a result of the Supreme Court suspension of the death penalty in 1972 and a subsequent moratorium in the State of California that same year which reduced their sentences to life with the possibility of parole.

Consider the lives of the Manson Family players who faced death. I am cognizant that this will be an extremely unpopular opinion, but what these people did with the extra time they were given is a point of fact and one of which a Christian should remain well aware.

           Susan Atkins became a Christian in 1974 and wrote a book about her life. Her faith cleared the fog of Charles Manson's indoctrination from her mind, and she was able to see clearly what she had done to Sharon Tate and her baby. She died of brain cancer while still in prison in 2009.

            Charles Tex Watson also became a Christian and has spoken much about his life and conversion. He has started a prison ministry called Abounding Love. He still resides in the California penal system.

            Patricia Krenwinkel has kept a perfectly clean prison record and has earned a Bachelors degree in Human Services. She works in such programs as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and teaches illiterate prisoners to read. She does not shy away from her crimes.

           Leslie Van Houten likewise has kept a clean record in prison, earned a college degree and does what she can to help others in her sphere to not make the same mistakes she has.

           Charles Manson remains unrepentant of his actions, insists that he is factually innocent since he was not the one who killed and is still waiting for the war he prophesied back in the summer of 1969. Update: Charles Manson died in prison on November 19th, 2017 of a heart attack brought on by numerous medical issues attributed to old age. Manson was 83 years old.

My whole point in listing these people and what became of them is just this: How many lives have these people touched in a positive way since their execution dates were nullified? Do the people who live with them see Christ in their lives or not? While Manson has remained the twisted, bitter man he was back in 1969, his followers with only a couple of exceptions have grown up and realized the horror of what they did. In imposing the death penalty on people, are we removing the possibility of any future good they could contribute to our society? The answer is an obvious Yes, but I have to wonder just how much thought is actually given to such an answer.

Consider Saul of Tarsus in the 1st Century AD. He was a young man then, perhaps in his mid to late 20s. He was raised as the son of a Pharisee (A Jewish religious sect prominent in that age) and entered into the same teaching when he became of age. By all accounts, Saul was a zealot and a determined ideologue. To him, the Christian faith was an abomination and an extreme offense before God Most High. To him, followers of the Christ were beyond recanting; they deserved to die and with the same prejudice that had been outlined in Ezekiel 9:3-6. Saul either participated or at the very least observed as the Disciple Stephen was stoned to death as described in Acts Chapter 7. To Saul, Stephens death was a job well done.

Shortly after that, Saul and a contingent of men headed for the distant Syrian city of Damascus to kill the small, but growing Christian community which resided there. As is well known amongst the Christians of today, Saul was interrupted on his journey by the Spirit of God. This confrontation was so profound that Saul abandoned his mission and reevaluated his entire purpose in life. It didn't happen right away as he states in Galatians 1:17, he went to Arabia and spent three years there. Saul later abandoned his Hebrew name for that of Paul as he focused his ministry on the pagans in the Hellenized world. His Latin name would be far more embracing to them, and so he did what he could to meet them where they were.

The point of my relating Pauls experience is simple. Paul regarded himself as the foremost of sinners (1st Timothy 1:15) and was well aware of the pain and terror hed brought to others. Paul was either directly or indirectly responsible for many horrendous murders which included men, women, and children. He did these acts because he had convinced himself it was for God. However, for all his training, Paul really didn't know God at all. He had allowed his own hatred and bigotry to rule him, and for that, innocent people died.

Suppose Paul had been caught by members of the early Christians and executed for the murders hed committed? What if the Pharisees who tried to kill him after his conversion had succeeded?  Paul wrote thirteen of the twenty-six book which makes up the New Testament. Many theologians today regard Paul as the actual author of Christianity, so profound were his works. Paul brought an understanding and a perspective on Christ to the Apostles which they had not previously been made aware while they walked with Christ in the flesh. This was by design. Those Apostles had not yet had to exercise a level of faith with Christ that those who would follow were forced to; Paul brought them an aspect of Christ which was Spiritual. Peter realized this as did the other Apostles and they all recognized that God in His wisdom gave them a messenger from the most unlikely of places. Every Christian today has a faith-based more on the way Paul experienced Christ than how the other Apostles experienced Christ. In many respects, Paul is our model.

Suffice to say none of that would have taken place had Paul been executed for his crimes in the beginning. I am uncertain what the New Testament would look like or if there would even be a New Testament had Paul died at the time of his conversion. The oldest of the written works of the New Testament is thought to be Pauls letters to the Church at Thessalonica, written circa 52 AD. The Romans eventually executed Paul, but not until approximately 68 AD. There was much study, time and planning into making the Apostle Paul into what he became as opposed to the young, brash Pharisee he had been.

Equal justice under the law is sacrosanct; it is a hallmark of our Constitution. The laws which govern one are to govern all. When we lose that, we have lost our foundation. The mere fact that so many prosecutors play fast and loose with the law is beyond troubling to me. There are examples after example, and I don't wish to belabor it here, but I will ask one to consider the case of Carla Fay Tucker.

Tucker killed a woman named Deborah Thornton during a botched burglary in 1983 when she was 23 years old. Tucker had a difficult life as a child; a product of divorce addicted to drugs. She dropped out of school and drifted into prostitution when she was just 14 years of age when she and her mother began to follow various musical rock bands around the country. Her story is a tragic one that should have never happened. She was convicted of the murder of Thornton and sentenced to death. While in prison, she was freed of her addiction to drugs and began to build her life. Prison gave her the first real structure shed ever had. She became a Christian and devoted the remainder of her days to doing what she could to further the cause of Christ.

No one who came to know Carla Fay Tucker behind bars thought she deserved to die. The person she was when she committed the murder no longer existed. Here we have the Pauline parallel. A notable list of people including Pope John Paul II and Deborah Thornton's own brother petitioned for her sentence to be commuted. The Warden of Huntsville prison in Texas testified that she was a model prisoner and that after 14 years on death row, she had been reformed.  Despite these statements of fact, the Texas board turned her down.

Governor George W. Bush could have commuted her sentence and was asked to do so by many of the same people who had petitioned for her release, but he was planning on running For the United States Presidency. He deferred to the Texas Board which had earlier denied her request and thus, allowed a fellow Christian to die though it had been in his power to alter that outcome.

Contrast with Gary Ridgeway who for perhaps as long as twenty years (figures are still hazy) engaged in a killing spree against women with a body count he confessed to being between seventy-one to maybe as much as one hundred. (He either isn't sure, or he is keeping the information as leverage) Both the state of Texas and the State of Washington have the death penalty on their books. Because of the politics of the death penalty and because prosecutors and investigators wanted more information from Ridgeway, the death penalty in his case was taken off the table. He'll die in prison from old age. Is Gary Ridgeway any less a threat to society as was Carla Fay Tucker or Larry Mann? Equal justice? Hmm.

Now consider the case of Cameron Todd Willingham who was executed February 2004, for murdering his three young children by arson at the family home in Corsicana, Texas. Nationally known fire investigator Gerald Hurst reviewed the case documents, including the trial transcriptions and an hour-long videotape of the aftermath of the fire scene and said in December 2004 that "There's nothing to suggest to any reasonable arson investigator that this was an arson fire. It was just a fire." In 2010, the Innocence Project filed a lawsuit against the State of Texas, seeking a judgment of "official oppression."

This from Wikipedia:

Willingham's case gained renewed attention in 2009 when an investigative report by David Grann in The New Yorker, drawing upon arson investigation experts and advances in fire science since the 1992 investigation, suggested that the evidence for arson was unconvincing and, had this information been available at the time of trial, would have provided grounds for Willingham's acquittal.

According to an August 2009 investigative report by an expert hired by the Texas Forensic Science Commission, the original claims of arson were doubtful. The Corsicana Fire Department disputes the findings, stating that the report overlooked several key points in the record. The case has been further complicated by allegations that Texas Governor Rick Perry impeded the investigation by replacing three of the nine commission members in an attempt to change the commission's findings; Perry denies the allegations.

When our system of justice becomes a mechanism for expedience; when the law is used to aid the careers of those in authority, we no longer have a system of justice. When we execute an innocent person, we cannot go back later and apologize to the harmed party and return their life. Since it became manifest to George Ryan that there were far too many errors being committed by the State of Illinois, a moratorium on executions was the only lawful remedy. I am stunned that more good people in this country don't understand this very basic concept. It seems that people tend to think, Well he may not have committed THAT murder, but I'm sure he did something else just as bad, or else they wouldn't have convicted him.  

Purely on Constitutional grounds, what is applied to one should be applied to all. Thus I agree with Jay Inslee's argument and the reasons he has given for issuing a moratorium on the death penalty in Washington State. Inslee should now take that a step further and recognize that the most innocent citizens of his state are similarly being slaughtered as a matter of expediency and convenience, but I doubt he will. In much the same way That George W. Bush allowed Carla Fay Tucker to die because not to do so would have hurt his political fortunes, Governor Jay Inslee will not stop the slaughter of innocent children. Abortion is a sacrament amongst certain Progressive Liberals and to touch it is political suicide to any with a (D) next to their name. Capital punishment is a similar sacrament amongst certain Conservative Christians and to touch it is political suicide to any with an (R) next to their name. These two warring political and spiritual factions are actually far more alike than they are willing to admit. They have each staked out ground which they believe to be honorable and just, but in truth, it is anything but.

I have laid down examples of what could have become of Carla Fay Tucker had she been allowed to live. We have seen what those who terrorized Los Angeles in the summer of 1969 did with their lives behind bars. I have not yet raised the issue of what those whose lives have been extinguished through abortion before ever having being given a chance; theirs is a blank page. These were people who may have become street thugs, or they may have discovered the cure for AIDS. There may have been just another homeless person strung out on drugs amongst them, or there could have been another Stephen Hawking. The point is, we don't know. They don't have a face to us, so they are disposable and we treat them that way; an inconvenience which is worth more to us dead than alive.

In 1857, the United States Supreme Court voted in a 7-2 decision that Dred Scott, a black slave who had been taken by his owners to the free states in the north, could not sue for his freedom. The majority opinion written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney denied Scott's request and in doing so, ruled that an Act of Congress, in this case, the Missouri Compromise of 1820 which prohibited slavery north of the parallel 36°30' north to be unconstitutional for the second time in its history. Let me repeat that in case it was missed: The United States Supreme Court said that prohibiting slavery was unconstitutional. The worth of some humans did not rise to the level of others, but it was those humans who need not fear the ruling which made the rule. Do you get it?

What the Court essentially did was decide that by the mere fact of birthright, Dred Scott was not a fellow human being, but a savage. He did not and never would enjoy equality with Caucasians. The Court looked upon Dred Scott and other people of color as little more than animals. Today we look back on that period in our history with a profound sense of shame, but for a large segment of society, they regarded the Courts decision as just.

I suspect that one hundred years from now, we will look back on the holocaust of abortion in much the same way we look upon slavery. Despite what those who support abortion wish us to believe, the majority of the abortions are performed for matters of convenience; someone forgetting to take their birth control, or just too lazy or aroused to bother. It really doesn't matter the cause; it is irresponsibility on the part of the principles, and an innocent is forced to shoulder the responsibility rather than the actual guilty parties. (Sound familiar?)

The United States exists in and propagates a culture of death. We kill the unborn, we kill those who have committed horrible acts, and we now allow people to kill themselves in certain states. We do this because to kill is one of the easiest things to do. Killing takes no intelligence, and it takes little skill. Killing is the best solution when being responsible is just too gosh darn hard.

I wish that is wasn't so. I wish our leaders were men and women of character, but the Bible spoke of the last days when the love of one towards another would grow cold. We're here now, folks. When a pastor can stand before a pulpit and invoke an imprecatory prayer (Psalm 109:6-9 for the intrigued) upon another person; when we can laugh and sing and engage in revelry when a human being is roasted to death in an electric chair, their neck is separated by a fall from a noose, or drugs are sent coursing through their veins until it stops their heart, then we are a people who need to pause and take stock of just who we really are. When a United States President can call a child a punishment; when he can sanction the penetration of the skull of an infant at 9 months gestation in order to vacuum out the brain; when we as a people do not give a second thought to a baby burning in a saline bath which can take as long as three days to kill them, we have opted for a culture of death. Now several states have enacted laws allowing for infanticide. 

Update: As of the date of this edited commentary, the United States House of Representatives led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D - San Francisco) have voted down a bill 14 times that would mandate babies born alive through botched abortions would be given medical care so that they could live. Let me repeat that so it registers: Fourteen times they have voted for infanticide. ( ) It is this culture of death we are passing on to our children and grandchildren.

We shake our heads and bemoan the lack of humanity and compassion in our youth today. How can a child take a firearm to school and shoot his classmates? How can a group of middle-school girls gang up on another girl, rape her with a foreign object and then set her on fire to burn alive? Kids are quick studies, and they have learned well the culture of death from their authority figures; they've learned to devalue life from us.

The secular world remains in the dark on matters of the Spirit. It is up to us who profess Christ to be His Light to this darkened world. We cannot accomplish this task if we remain in the dark ourselves. If you are a Christian, if you claim to follow Christ, then learn what it is He taught. Seek to emulate Him and Him alone. Drop the culture of death and legalistic dogma. It has no place in the Body of Christ. Being Pro-life means just that: Pro-life--all of it. If one who claims Christ cannot do that, then one should just put aside the pretense and retreat into the legalistic dogma which is manifestly their first and only true love.

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