One of the key events of the upcoming days as pro-life Americans gather in marches, rallies and educational conferences surrounding the 51st anniversary of the now reversed Roe v. Wade decision is the National Prayer Service, an interdenominational gathering in Constitution Hall on the morning of the March for Life in Washington, D.C.
Among the notable features of this year’s service, pro-life leaders will release again the Declaration of Dependence. Rooted in the history of our nation’s explicit reliance on God for both its founding and its future, this declaration, composed in 2013 by Thomas Glessner, Esq., founder of The National Institute of Family and Life Advocates, identifies the foundational reason for the ongoing tragedy of abortion. The declaration states,
‘This prevalent and callous disregard for innocent human life indicates that America has, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “forgotten God.”’
An awareness of the spiritual roots of the problem, furthermore, indicates the path to a solution. The re-issuing of this Declaration of Dependence is based on the conviction that the pro-life movement has sufficiently made the case that the pro-life position can be argued from human reason.
For decades, the movement has asserted – and rightly so – that science itself makes clear that the child in the womb is a human being, one of us.
Moreover, ethical reasoning even by those who have little or no faith is capable of concluding that it is wrong, and harmful to society, to kill babies in the womb. The experiences of those who have done so, and the evident harm to individuals and families, reinforces this conclusion of human reasoning.
At this point in the history of our movement, we have made that very clear, and there is hardly any dissent within the movement. Pro-life advocates are routinely trained on how to make their arguments to a secular audience, and how to refute the assertion so often made by abortion supporters that “this is just a religious issue.”
But now we risk going too far down the road of pointing out the “human reason alone/secular arguments” perspective.
We are in danger of under-emphasizing a key and essential component of victory for the pro-life movement, namely, its religious basis.
Religious faith is alive in America. Most Americans do in fact believe in God, pray, and read the Bible.
So why should these key aspects of their lives be disconnected from their pro-life position?
While reason alone can conclude that abortion kills a baby and is wrong, the arguments from Faith clarify and reinforce that truth. God made human beings in his own image. God became a human being himself in Christ. Jesus Christ gives human life a place on his throne. And God’s Spirit empowers us to save lives by laying our lives down for our brothers and sisters just as the Son of God did.
As confusion reigns in our world today, the light of Faith is more necessary than ever to rescue human reason from the fog of sin. God’s Word and grace are more necessary than ever to enable people to tap into the strength they need to persevere in the hard work, and face the persecution involved, in striving to restore protection to the unborn.
This is no time to de-emphasize the religious dimension of the pro-life movement. Too often, religious people are made to feel that they have to hide their faith, or set the Word of God aside, when they advocate for the unborn.
Nothing can be farther from the truth.
And fortunately, religious faith will in fact be on full display, not only at the National Prayer Service, but at the March itself, as crosses, rosaries, religious clothing, and signs with Scripture quotes will be evident to all who look.
Even in San Francisco, on the day after the D.C. March, the Walk for Life West Coast will be marked by vigorous religious expression.
So should it be, in public and in private, in marches and in educational seminars, in broadcasts and in conversations about abortion.
Many are concerned that clergy don’t speak up enough about abortion. Maybe part of the reason is that we’ve been tacitly, if not explicitly, telling them that religious arguments have no place in the pro-life debate.
We are confronted in our society by a sustained, organized attack on religious expression and freedom. Fortunately, as in cases like that of Coach Joe Kennedy, the Supreme Court has moved decisively in the direction of more religious freedom, asserting that it is perfectly Constitutional for Americans to express their religious beliefs in public as well as in private.
On such a foundational point, let’s make sure that the pro-life movement doesn’t lag behind.
Image from Shutterstock.