Religious Leaders Wrong to Support Funding Planned Parenthood

Opinion   |   Ken Shepherd   |   Mar 4, 2011   |   12:07PM   |   Washington, DC

Defending their “Shared commitment to women and children,” on the Washington Post/Newsweek’s “On Faith” site, the Revs. Richard Cizik and Debra Haffner joined forces today support federal tax monies flowing to Planned Parenthood.

Cizik, you may recall, is a bit of a media favorite because he hails from a generally theologically conservative tradition but has been moving leftward politically over the past few years.

Haffner is liberal theologically and politically, a Unitarian-Universalist minister and the former president of the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS), a group that lobbies to end federal funding of abstinence-until-marriage sex ed programs.

As we’ve noted, the On Faith feature often skews liberal in theology and politics, and the Cizik/Haffner tag-team fits hand-in-glove with the leftward tack of the site.

Here’s the duo’s argument against defunding Planned Parenthood (emphases mine):

Although we hold differing moral values about abortion, we share a commitment that because life is sacred, it should never be created carelessly or unintentionally. That is why we both support the Title X family planning program, which helps avert nearly one million pregnancies in the United States annually. That is why we have a shared belief in international family planning programs, because we know that maternal mortality around the world could be reduced by more than 70 percent by improved access to reproductive health services. We support domestic and international family planning because we know it reduces neonatal and maternal morbidity and mortality, including deaths attributable to unsafe abortions–and it helps build strong families and lives.

As religious leaders, we are called to improve women’s and children’s lives. It is simply inconceivable to either of us that those who oppose abortion services also have voted to cut or eliminate family planning, prenatal care, mother and infant nutrition programs, and community health services. We stand together in calling on people of faith across the religious spectrum to stand up for the needs of low-income families and their children. We are pro-faith, pro-family, and pro-child.

As people of faith, we call on the U.S. Senate to reject the draconian and ultimately immoral cuts proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives. As religious leaders called by God to co-create a better world where all may flourish and thrive, we can do no less.

But if Cizik is truly, staunchly pro-life, how can he co-author a statement with a pro-choice activist papering over their “differing moral values about abortion”? Differing moral “values”? Wouldn’t a pro-life conservative minister consider the abortion question not to be one of “values” but of God’s law?

Cizik’s denomination, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, certainly takes such a stand (emphases mine):

Scripture teaches that we are not merely to avoid involvement in injustice. God’s people are called upon to speak for the oppressed and defenseless. The Scripture passages cited above are evidence that God accords human value and dignity to the unborn child.

The 6th General Assembly of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church affirms that the Bible does not distinguish between prenatal and postnatal life. It attributes human personhood to the unborn child.

Because we hold these convictions concerning unborn children, we urge the promotion of legislation that brings our judicial and legal systems into line with the scriptural view on protecting the poor and weak.

Christians are called to be good citizens by impacting the state in positive ways. All citizens, Christians and non-Christians alike, must have freedom of conscience on all private moral and ethical issues, since God alone is Lord of the conscience. But the issue of equal protection of life under the laws of the state is not a private but a public matter.

So how could a conservative EPC minister in good conscience put his assent to a joint statement with a pro-choicer arguing that both of them are “pro-family” and “pro-child” when he supposedly believes that unborn children destroyed by abortion are human persons accorded value and dignity by God?

What’s more, Cizik’s closing language with Haffner about “co-creat[ing] a better world” sounds awfully pride-ridden and man-exalting for a conservative Calvinist minister, no?

Richard Cizik is many things, but a conservative isn’t one. On Faith should stop insulting the intelligence of its readers by insisting otherwise. Note: Ken Shepherd is the managing editor for NewsBusters and a former analyst at the Media Research Center who identifies examples of media bias. This originally appeared on NewsBusters.