Of all the problems I have with the Episcopal Church, most can be dealt with by realizing that while the Church is the Bride of Christ, the "church" as we see her in our fragmented denominations is made up of fallen creatures who often have difficulty discerning God's Will and Direction. So misunderstandings and incomplete discernment are part of being a church member.
There are a few issues, however, that cross over from human failing (mine and others) to affiliation with heresy or evil. The belief in the divinity of Jesus and the Resurrection (as physical realities, not metaphorical symbols) are two truths I think that all Christians must hold in order to be called followers of Christ. And an evil that must be avoided is worldly association with those who, while sounding so compassionate in their language, are actually advocating and supporting abortion.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC, and formerly known as the "Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights" - gee, wonder why they changed the name?), instead of focusing on helping a young girl or woman handle a pregnancy with all necessary support (spiritual, financial, etc.) focuses on helping her justify whatever she wants to do while she's in a vulnerable state.
Just to remind you of what The Episcopal Church has offically aligned itself with (see minutes of the Executive Council January 2006 meeting, pages 4-7), here are some excerpts from the RCRC Web site.
From the RCRC Mission statement:
RCRC was founded in 1973 to safeguard the newly won constitutional right to abortion.
They are nothing if not up front and proud of their calling.
From Call to Justice:
Just after the Supreme Court handed down its devastating decision in Gonzales v. Carhart, our friends in Congress introduced the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). FOCA is a simple, clear and powerful – women have a right to have safe, legal abortion care - and to make the medical decisions that she and her doctor think are best in regards to her reproductive health. FOCA would write into law that every woman has the fundamental right to:
- choose to bear a child
- end a pregnancy prior to fetal viability
- end a pregnancy after fetal viability when necessary to protect her life or health
From All Options Clergy Counseling:
Women and their families who are dealing with unwelcome or problem pregnancies often have religious, spiritual, and theological questions and look for supportive pastoral help to answer these questions. To help clergy address this need, the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, in conjunction with our affiliates, offers a training workshop in All Options Clergy Counseling. In this training, we explore all options that are available: parenting, adoption, and abortion.
All Options Clergy Counseling is many things: it is emotional, relational, medical, financial, and legal in nature. It is also, at the core, spiritual. The conversations that take place during an All Options training are shaped by participants' various understandings of God. The unspoken questions of the counselees are: Will God still love me? Will God forgive me? Therefore, how clergy speak about God is central to All Options counseling even when the woman cannot articulate her own anxieties.
The decision of whether or not to continue a pregnancy is an extremely complicated one for many women. During the workshop, clergy learn more about those complexities. Factors that lead to those complexities may include any one or more of the following: relationship with boyfriend or husband; relationship with parents; attitudes about sexuality; feelings about being pregnant; previous pregnancies; financial and social situation; feelings about being a woman; plans for the future; attitudes about abortion; interpretation of scripture; personal religious beliefs. Therefore, no one choice is best for all; each choice has the potential for pain and loss. . .
Ultimately clergy who take this training and engage in this type of pastoral counseling will be helping a woman to strike a balance between the time she needs to consider her decision carefully and the time she decides to act (over 89% of all abortions are performed in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, both by choice and due to legal barriers to abortions post-12 weeks).
I don't know, but their idea of "balance" sounds suspiciously to me like "hurry up and make a decision" - I don't get the feeling of concern and prayerful intent here.
From Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom:
Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom (SYRF) is an interfaith, multicultural program of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice that is, of, by, and for youth and young adults ages 16-30. Through a network of campus and community SYRF groups and the SYRF website, SYRF educates, organizes, and empowers young people to put their faith into action for:
Through SYRF, youth and young adults:
- Comprehensive sexuality education
- HIV/AIDS prevention
- Access to family planning services
- Access to legal, safe, and affordable abortion services
- Connect with other spiritual, pro-choice young people
- Challenge the myth perpetuated by the religious right that religion and pro-choice values are incompatible
- Become members of college or congregational SYRF chapters
- Get information and tools to become powerful spiritual advocates for choice
- Plan events that raise awareness about religion and choice on their campuses and in their communities
- Find answers to religiously based questions about abortion, sexuality education and other reproductive and sexual health issues
- Advocate for increased access to comprehensive reproductive health care services and education
Challenge Anti-Choice Demonstrations:
Extremist groups are creating offensive displays at colleges and universities, clinics, religious congregations, and even busy sidewalks. We value free speech but think it's wrong when these displays break laws and spread lies and promote hate. If there is a possibility your campus will experience this intrusion, our packet will help your group to counter the misinformation promoted by these displays and express the meaning of choice - respect, compassion, tolerance, justice, and dignity.
Free speech is fine, as long as I agree with it. And if I don't, it isn't really free speech, it's lies and promotion of hate, and you're breaking the law to express your ideas. And yes, unfortunately, they also now have a group called Seminarians for Choice (they sponsor campus worship services to celebrate the Roe v. Wade anniversary).
I've heard the Coalition supports "partial-birth abortion." Is that true?
There has been considerable misinformation about abortion procedures in the media and in legislation. Groups that want to return to the days when abortion was illegal have conducted a vigorous campaign of legislation and publicity to ban abortion procedures. They made up the name partial-birth abortion to drive a wedge in the pro-choice movement. The National Right to Life and their friends in Congress wrote legislation so broad that it outlaws safe and common procedures used throughout pregnancy.
Notice how the question "Is that true?" is never answered.
What is the Coalition's position on late-term abortion?
The Coalition believes that this issue should be left up to the individual member groups. In a policy position taken March 5, 1982, the Board of Directors stated that late-term abortion should not be a focus of the Coalition. Our focus is supporting choice and striving for religious freedom.
Of course they don't want it as a focus - most Americans, religious or not, do not support late-term or partial birth abortions. And that the godly woman of Proverbs 31 can be used to justify abortion, as below, seems blasphemous to me:
From the final paragraphs of one of the Perspectives essays:
The essay in Proverbs concludes, “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all’” (Prov. 31).
The children who will rise up and call their mothers blessed are unlikely to be the unwanted children of enforced pregnancies and shotgun weddings. Nor are admiring husbands likely to be those who are angered by the birth of unwanted children, increased responsibilities, decreased prosperity, and a sense of curse rather than blessing in their sexual and family lives.
Women who will be called blessed by their children—and excellent by the men in their lives—are likely to be women of prudence and planning who manage their difficulties and the survival of their households well.
And another Perspective:
No woman should be required to give up her life, her health, or her family’s security to save the life of a fetus that is threatening her well-being. At the very least she is entitled to self-defense.
Yes, abortion as self-defense - I don't think it gets any more twisted than that.
From the Perspectives intro page:
The Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Unitarian Universalist Association, and Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative Judaism all have official statements in support of reproductive choice as a matter of conscience, adopted by their governing bodies. Religious and religiously affiliated organizations from these and other traditions and independent religious organizations such as Catholics for a Free Choice are members of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.
Wouldn't you know ECUSA would be listed first?