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As evangelicals who came of age during the culture wars, we're part of a generation ready to move past the pitched left-right debates. The critiques of Christian political activism have held some merit: A hyper-focus on elections, voter guides, ...

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Brian Jordan

January 28, 2014  11:39pm

What I find somewhat disheartening about the abortion debate is that folks on both sides seem to be so sure that their opinion of "when life begins" is not opinion... but fact. This article speaks of justice as if it is a foregone conclusion that abortion is murder, in so much as the soul that God joins with flesh in the womb is present from the first moment of conception. I understand there are assumptions to be made. David refers to "You knit me together in my mother's womb" in one of his beautiful Psalms (whether this should be taken literally is debatable). Aside from these assumptions, if there is any explicit delineation of when a life is truly an individual soul, please cite it. Do people really understand the biology? Do you believe that you "are you" from fertilization? If that is so, you believe half of children aren't born. If not, when? Other stages like cleavage, blastula, embryo, or fetus? I just don't get how either pro-life or pro-choice are so sure.

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Joshua Berg

January 23, 2014  9:08am

Good article. I think one of the barriers to so called left/right issues is the rhetoric used. As a progressive Christian who has more fully embraced pro-life issues, I think that Pope Francis has really helped bridge this divide by speaking out against consumerism. He issued a statement that many people mistook for criticism of capitalism. He also recently spoke against abortion. What bridged these two issues was talk about consumption and particularly consumption of human life. The disillusionment comes when one can see that the same impetus for progressives to instinctively advocate for poor worker's health and wages is the same impetus that conservatives instinctively see for being pro-life. They are both against human life being a consumer good, which one can reject, throw away or exploit. It is the fault of both sides' rhetoric that maintains division. Claiming your position to be the only pro-life position ruins a much more powerful and unified Christian voice.

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Kamilla Ludwig

January 19, 2014  9:15pm

Sigh. Why am I not surprise to see progressive/left commenters play the moral equivalency game? Abortion, war and poverty are not morally equivalent issues. Abortion is an intrinsic evil. That means it is always and everywhere wrong. Period. No exceptions. You may not agree, but just war theory has a venerable tradition in Christian theology/philosophy. War itself is not an intrinsic evil. Poverty is a hard animal to pin down. Are we talking relative or absolute? And what are we to do about it? As for the tired old canard that conservatives side-step,the issue? I'm going to start buying copies of Arthur Brooks, Who Really Cares? & mail them to everyone who tries to pass that off as a given. Conservatives have never sidestepped poverty. The difference between them and progressive is they give more of their own time, talent and treasure *voluntarily* while progressive often prefer coercive govt taking of wealth to help the poor. Well, either Brooks or Chesterton on Distributism.

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Caleb Anderson

January 18, 2014  8:55pm

Stephen Johnson, why do you assume we cannot change systemic sin, but you presumedly think we can change personal sin? And if systems and structures (sinful or otherwise) can't be changed, why have so many different types of systems and structures existed in so many times and places? You seem to have been hoodwinked by ideology into thinking that historically specific systems are permanent and unchangeable. And/or you don't understand anything about social/economic/political structures. Austin Shaver, you make a very good point. I suppose the debate hinges over whether the situation is worse when abortion is prohibited or when it's not. But either way we need to work on opposing the factors that lead to unwanted pregnancies - which I think everyone should agree on regardless of our stance on abortion prohibition. I think it's a shame when somebody's idea of a moral stance leads to more unwanted pregnancies (e.g. opposing sex education/contraceptive services etc).

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Wit D

January 18, 2014  6:18pm

While many in this society would rather endorse aborting a baby for what ever reason..... I ask you to take a look at this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-3X5hIFXYU&list=PL68AB375B750C8BA3&i ndex=1 http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL68AB375B750C8BA3.... Musl im Demographics : Our birth rate is killing us.I guess we lack vision , a proper understanding as to why God gave the ability to get children and an appreciation for children!!!!!

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Melody Mariner

January 17, 2014  11:15am

Why is the solution to poverty to kill our babies? Over and over I see the argument finally land on "Do you have any idea how many poor there would be if there wasn't abortion?" The sin and the greed comes from those who want to fix things by killing the unwanted. Then they will not pay as much in taxes. Everyone in America that can type is wealthy. They lie about it by pointing at someone wealthier because they are greedy and do not want to share. They advocate death for the unborn to cover up their own greed and call it kindness.

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Stephen Johnson

January 17, 2014  10:01am

Caleb says, "To alleviate poverty we need to change the systemic causes of poverty." True, but the problem we face is that we can change little of the systemic causes of poverty. The cause is sin, not to be over theological about it. The sin of greed always beckons us to take and retain more than we need (all of us). The sin of covetousness always beckons us to want what our neighbor has whether we deserve it or not. The sin of racism works against all races in our struggle to live as the human race. The sin of sloth always beckons us to work less and receive more if we can. These sins and others have radical implications for the way poverty and wealth affect us. Sinful and amoral causes result in children being born into a world with great opportunity or with limited opportunity, with capable and caring parents or not, with access to good education or not. How can we change all of this? And would abortion stop if poverty were stopped? No, because sin still exists in us.

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Austin Shaver

January 17, 2014  8:56am

Caleb Anderson, in response to your first comment, I have a sincere question. I am going to recast your comment in another historical context and ask you to explain how you differentiate the two. Genuinely curious. "If pre-1860's abolitionists recognize better than the current generation that it's more effective to deal with the social factors leading to slavery than to pass laws prohibiting it, that's a good thing. The way the article portrays the former as a lukewarm opposition to slavery and the latter as the only 'real' pro-freedom stance speaks volumes... it suggests the authors are not concerned with preventing slavery so much as evangelising for what they see as orthodox pro-freedom beliefs." I do not believe any true Christian would argue that we should be unconcerned with the social factors leading to abortion, but neither do I see how such a concern should diminish our efforts to outlaw such a barbaric practice. This calls for a both/and rather than an either/or approach.

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Mel Evans

January 17, 2014  12:14am

n t... Mel is a she not a he.... What I did, in order to keep things simple was to take the subtitle of this blog and turn it back towards the conservative evangelical authors from a progressive evangelical's viewpoint. I feel I said what I meant perfectly and would not change one word of it.

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n t

January 16, 2014  10:15pm

Caleb, I'm all for bringing the ultra wealthy to heel. And I'm not against all government programs, by the way. Mel's comment annoyed me because I felt he was stereotyping evangelicals in an unfair/untrue way. We have TWO political parties, despite their being hundreds of different ways to group all of the relevant political issues together. Just because you vote for one party does not mean you agree with it very much--just on balance more than the other party. Would it be fair if I argued that because 1) you support amnesty and 2) most zillionaires support amnesty then 3) you support zillionaires and sidestep the needs of everyone else? I can see that I shot back at Mel with somewhat of a cartoonish send-up of progressive beliefs about poverty alleviation--which I shouldn't have done.

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Caleb Anderson

January 16, 2014  9:10pm

n t, your caricature of left-wing solutions to poverty is laughably incomplete. If our economic systems did not allow wealth to concentrate in the hands of a few at the expense of the poor, we wouldn't need imperfect government interventions OR imperfect private philanthropy to try and alleviate poverty. To alleviate poverty we need to change the systemic causes of poverty. But these are also the systemic causes of wealth for the few, which is why those few, and those who identify with them (e.g. right-wing evangelicals) find it so hard to recognise this.

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Caleb Anderson

January 16, 2014  9:01pm

If Generation Y evangelicals recognise better than the authors of this article that it's more effective to deal with the social factors leading to abortion than to pass laws prohibiting it, that's a good thing. The way the article portrays the former as a lukewarm opposition to abortion and the former as the only 'real' pro-life stance speaks volumes... it suggests the authors are not concerned with preventing abortions so much as evangelising for what they see as orthodox pro-life beliefs.

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Rick Middleton

January 16, 2014  6:30pm

Quote: "But sadly, among progressive evangelicals, there's a reflexive hesitancy to tout or raise the banner of human life as a preeminent justice issue. You'll hear individuals in this camp dance around the sanctity of life—writing it off as "political" or "complicated."" Are the authors saying the abortion issue has NOT been politicized, and that questions of life and choice and law and rights are NOT complex? This is simply a more eloquent variation of the zero-sum logic that prevails in evangelicalism -- the idea that nothing else can matter, so long as abortion exists. Abortion thus becomes the most powerful political tool (a sledgehammer) of our generation, giving us the ability to stifle and twist and silence every worthy debate. "The President started a foolish war? Well, at least he's pro-life." "Minimum wage? How is that more important than the babies?" To suggest we progressives "don't care about life" is insulting. This is just us-vs-them rhetoric dressed up as concern.

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n t

January 16, 2014  5:22pm

Mel: Other than "speaking up" about government programs, what have you done to alleviate poverty that conservative evangelicals haven't done? And have you ever considered that some people might be every bit as generous as you (if not more) only they have a different understanding about what government can accomplish as well as a different view about the unintended consequences of certain types of aid?

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Mel Evans

January 16, 2014  4:13pm

Conservative evangelicals can't tout pro-life while side-stepping issues of poverty and war. They have their own logs and should probably remove those before telling progressive evangelicals what is in their eyes or judging the "dance" that takes place around complicated issues.

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Robb S

January 16, 2014  1:59pm

There are progressives who are vocally pro-life: democratsforlife.org sojo.net redletterchristians.org allourlives.org

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