This week marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Today, abortion remains legal while a series of national stories involving police brutality against African American men and women have revealed to many another layer of inequality within the American criminal justice system. As evangelicals continue to find common ground with these causes, we asked those who have previously either spoken up on behalf of the #BlackLivesMatter or pro-life movements what the two can learn from one another.
Here’s what they had to say.
R. Albert Mohler Jr.
President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
If committed to the worldview of Scripture, both #BlackLivesMatter and the pro-life movement ground their moral urgency in the fact that every single human being—regardless of race, ethnicity, condition of life, or stage of development—is an image bearer of God. In this sense, there should be both common ground and common support. #BlackLivesMatter needs to be concerned about the racial disparity in abortion in America, and the pro-life movement has to remember that the sanctity of life means all of life.
Director of worship and outreach, South City Church, St. Louis, Missouri
Pro-life and #BlackLivesMatter [are] de-centralized movements founded on principles that offer an answer to the call of dignity for the Imago Dei. Believers who affirm the God-honoring parts of both movements have learned that our fight is with systems, not people. We hold loosely the prescriptions of those who have not touched these traumas. We have chosen to learn from the true experts: the people most impacted by the injustices we fight.
Karen Swallow Prior
Professor of English atLiberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia
I did not spend years standing outside abortion clinics pleading for the lives of little black babies only for these babies to be born into a world that would deny their dignity and worth—and sometimes their very lives—because of the color of their skin. Those of us who hear the cries of the unborn must not turn deaf ears to the cries that black lives matter, or blind eyes to the injustices that give birth to these cries.
President and founder of the John & Vera Mae Foundation for Reconciliation and Development, Jackson, Mississippi
The work of biblical justice requires that we recognize the image of God in every created human being: born and unborn, black or white, rich or poor. Today I celebrate the legacy of Dr. King Jr. who urged us as a nation to value black lives. This day, I also lament the loss of every unborn and unwanted baby since the passing of Roe v. Wade. May we imagine a nation where every life can flourish and each do our part to make this dream a reality.
President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Sacramento, California
#BlackLivesMatter can transition from socio-political advocacy to prophetic activism by embracing the quintessential moral imperative in defense of the innocent: all life carries the image of God without exception.
Correspondingly, the pro-life movement can learn from #BlackLivesMatter that a genuine "life" movement must be comprehensive, without myopia. Our "pro-life" ethos must defend the sanctity of life from the womb to the tomb and repudiate all violence in the womb and in our streets.
Director of the African American Leadership Initiative at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi