by Steven Ertelt
June 16, 2006
Birmingham, AL (LifeNews.com) — More than 120 members of the Presbyterian Pro-Life organization held their annual dinner on Thursday night in conjunction with the national convention for the Protestant denomination. Those attending said the Presbyterian Church USA’s stance in favor of abortion has preventing it from fulfilling its mission.
Presbyterian Coalition director Terry Schlossberg, who led the religious pro-life group for 18 years, told the audience that the church’s pro-abortion position keeps its from extending grace to all men and women.
"If we do not find the truth about what God reveals to us as human beings," Schlossberg said, "we are bound to get it wrong."
Schlossberg was pro-abortion herself at one point until an exhaustive study of the Bible showed her the importance of protecting human life — God’s creation.
Schlossberg said its intellectually easy to understand who Scriptures call for protecting the life of all persons, born and unborn. She cited Bible passages, the confessions of the PC(USA) and John Calvin’s writings to back up her contention that Christians should be pro-life if they want to follow Christian teachings correctly.
While undergoing her own conversion in the 1980s to a pro-life position, Schlossberg said she was frustrated to learn that the Presbyterian Church was moving towards supporting abortion.
"The church’s witness on abortion is no small matter," Schlossberg said.
The audience also heard from Chris Bolan who said that both he and his son, who was adopted, had birth mothers who considered abortion. He said he would not have been born if not for the intervention of Catholic church officials. Bolan applauded Catholic leaders for their clear pro-life stance and said the Presbyterian Church should follow their lead.
"The Roman Catholic Church has taken a full and complete stand," Bolan said. "Where are we?"
As it meets this week, the Presbyterian Church will consider three abortion proposals.
This year, the Mississippi Presbytery has submitted a policy change that would have the denomination oppose all abortions except in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother.
Abortions would also be tolerated by the church in very rare instances “where there is a finding by a competent, licensed physician that carrying the unborn child to term would, more likely than not, result in serious, long-lasting and debilitating mental and emotional distress of the mother.”
Meanwhile, the Beaver-Butler Presbytery has submitted a proposal that would cease funding from the national church offices of any organization that either supports or opposes abortion. The proposal would allow local churches to make those funding decisions.
Abortion funding has been a source of contention within the church as the church employee health plan pays for abortions. The church eventually established a “relief of conscience” program, where the dues paid by objecting churches were segregated and not used to pay for employee abortions.
A more modest proposal from the Redstone Presbytery seeks to get the denomination to call for limits on late-term abortions.
It asks the Assembly to “affirm that the lives of viable unborn babies — those well-developed enough to survive outside the womb if delivered — ought to be preserved and cared for and not aborted."
The abortion battle within the Presbyterian church has been ongoing since 1983, when the church officially adopted its position in favor of abortion, which virtually no limitations.
Pro-life advocates within the church have successfully been able to get it to modify its position — it now opposes abortions for reasons of birth control or sex selection — but the church still backs abortion.
In 2004, the church assembly upheld their pro-abortion position in favor keeping partial-birth abortions legal. It rejected a pro-life proposal that would have encouraged women with problem pregnancies to carry the baby to term.
Members defeated the pro-life measure 260-256 and then voted 298-219 to authorize a mailing to all Presbyterian churches announcing the denomination’s policy on abortion.
The Presbyterian Church has faced declining enrollments over the years in part because of its pro-abortion position. The denomination lost over 43,000 members during 2004 — the third straight year it has lost over 40,000 members.
It’s lost 12.9 percent of its total membership since 1983 and nearly half of its membership since 1965. In the last two years, the percentage of members leaving the Presbyterian Church is at its highest since the early 1980s.
Instead of reforming its abortion views, Rev. Timothy Simpson, a pastor in the PCUSA, formed a new pro-abortion "Christian" group last year called the Christian Alliance for Progress. Simpson told reporters the organization is meant to counter pro-life evangelical groups.
Related web sites:
Presbyterians Pro-Life – https://www.ppl.org