“What about the Church? In the US there have been many Christian commentators who, appalled by the videos, have not been slow to comment. But in the UK the silence has been almost deafening – apart from the Catholic Church and various campaign groups. But what about the rest of us – especially the evangelical church?”
Having taken a six-week break from social media, the internet and writing, it was with a sense of trepidation that I emerged from my cocoon. What has been going on in the world? In seeking to catch up I read over newsfeeds, papers and websites, and found there is one issue that stands out – mainly because apart from in US Christian circles, the silence has been deafening. I am talking, of course, about the Planned Parenthood videos. I am sure that most readers on Christian Today will be aware of the basics of the story – how the Center for Medical Progress set up a series of sting videos in which representatives of Planned Parenthood discuss selling aborted baby body parts. The latest of these is beyond horrific – describing dismembering a baby as ‘cool’ is a new low in the abortion debate.
What intrigues me, though, is the silence of both the British media and much of the British Church. As I trawled through the news I found surprisingly little about the scandal. There was an excellent article in The Telegraph, but just one news item from the BBC headlined ‘Planned Parenthood Funding target of Senate Republicans‘, which simply leaves the impression that right wing nutcases are up to their usual tricks of being against women. The Guardian, meanwhile, ran a series of articles about the wonderful work that Planned Parenthood does and – just to reassure its readers – gave us a piece from a scientist who “examines anti-abortion arguments”. The fact that the scientist concerned was a physicist (not a biologist) and that he used almost no scientific evidence to deal with the main questions was something that seemed to pass most readers by.
Abortion is one of those shibboleth issues that is considered a ‘secular’ value and therefore cannot be criticised, which is why the PP scandal has been kept quiet and will be relatively unknown in the UK. But of course, everyone knows that lots of abortion doctors have been murdered by extremist Christians in the US and you can absolutely guarantee that if one was murdered tomorrow it would be headline news in the British media…and Christian columnists would be quick to step in and condemn – rightly so. The only problem is that the total number of abortion doctors murdered is four, with four other abortion providers being killed. Eight is eight too many, but it is not quite the epidemic that the secularist urban myth portrays and there have been none this century. There have, however, been one million abortions in the past year –300,000 of them carried out by Planned Parenthood (the irony of the name seems to have escaped many people). And again the spin-doctors have been busy – PP put out that only 3 per cent of their business was abortion. It is a disingenuous and dishonest claim and was exposed as such by the New York Post.
But enough of the secular media. What about the Church? In the US there have been many Christian commentators who, appalled by the videos, have not been slow to comment. But in the UK the silence has been almost deafening – apart from the Catholic Church and various campaign groups. But what about the rest of us – especially the evangelical church? I have been reflecting on this and would like to suggest the following reasons:
1. We have been affected by the secular media and their agenda of portraying anyone against abortion as being some kind of redneck fundamentalist Christian terrorist. We are too concerned about our own image and building bridges into the secular world. So even though we may disagree with abortion and be horrified, we prefer to remain silent.
2. We are aware of the horrendous difficulties and problems that many women have with unwanted pregnancies and so we don’t want to appear uncompassionate. The horror of pregnancy caused by rape or incest, or the danger of serious harm to the mother are not issues to be lightly skated over. But using the complexity of the problems of evil is not a reason for remaining silent. We should both condemn abortion and seek to help those who are faced with unwanted pregnancies. There are alternatives to killing babies.