Scheduled speaker Timothy Johnson, medical editor for ABC News, recently declined to take the podium at an annual conference of New England Christians because of protests over his stances on abortion and euthanasia.

A record crowd of 7,250, including Christians from nearly 50 denominations, jammed Boston’s Hynes Convention Center January 29 and 30 for Congress 93, run by the Evangelistic Association of New England (EANE).

Johnson, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School, a clinical associate at Massachusetts General Hospital, and associate minister at Community Covenant Church in Peabody, Massachusetts, withdrew from the speakers’ roster just two days before he was to deliver his address on health-care reform. Johnson decided to drop out after consulting several times with EANE president Stephen Macchia, who had fielded a dozen telephone calls faulting Johnson’s stance on abortion and attacking EANE for sponsoring him.

Although the invitation to speak had been accepted by Johnson a year before Congress 93, Macchia said it was not until late last fall that EANE realized the full import of Johnson’s stances when the book Let’s Talk (Zondervan, 1992) was published. The book is a dialogue between Johnson and his friend C. Everett Koop, the former U.S. surgeon general, about health care.

Johnson says in the book: “I am antiabortion, but also prochoice. I do find the idea and act of abortion distasteful or even offensive. And I recognize that it definitely destroys a life in the making. But in our sinful world with less-than-perfect choices, I must support the right of each woman to decide what is the right choice for her.”

Johnson also says in the book: “I am willing to consider physician-assisted suicide only in situations of clearly ...

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