Wednesday, July 07, 2004

John Kerry on Abortion

Old Post: My last post on John Kerry's misunderstanding of the separation of Church and State is here. It looks like he hasn't learned a thing.

The Washington Post reports that Kerry has this to say about abortion:
A Catholic who supports abortion rights and has taken heat from some in the church hierarchy for his stance, Kerry told the paper, "I oppose abortion, personally. I don't like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception."

Spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said that although Kerry has often said abortion should be "safe, legal and rare," and that his religion shapes that view, she could not recall him ever publicly discussing when life begins.

"I can't take my Catholic belief, my article of faith, and legislate it on a Protestant or a Jew or an atheist," he continued in the interview. "We have separation of church and state in the United States of America."

I've been wanting to comment on this, but I couldn't find the words to express just how fallacious and dangerous Kerry's argument is. In my previous post, I pointed out that this attitude is actually a threat to freedom of religion. Kerry is arguing that you can believe whatever you want, as long as it doesn't affect how you live. Ironically, it's not too different from what the Romans believed. Of course, Christians were notoriously problematic as they let their religion affect their actions, even going so far as to refuse to perform an obeisance to the emperor, a minor religious observance to prove their patriotism. And let's not even talk about how they treated slaves--so many slaves became Christians that Christianity was considered a slave religion.

Christianity grew up as an oppressed belief by a small minority. The Romans would have been quite happy to let it stay that way. Instead it started growing, it started to change Rome, and the Romans tried to stop it. Miraculously, the Christians won. Because Christians, in whatever position they held, whether slaves, citizens, and rulers, lived out their faith and engaged the world with it. Freedom of religion is the freedom to engage the world with your faith, to try to change it. What Kerry is advocating is freedom from religion, that it have no influence on anyone but the practitioner. For the Christian that is impossible. If Kerry's view had been the dominant one throughout the history of this country, there would have been no anti-slavery movement, no social gospel, no civil rights movement.

If religion cannot shape the fundamental beliefs about right and wrong which guide your actions, including which laws and policies you pursue, what can?

The Queen of All Evil points to an article in the Boston Globe where principled abortion rights supporter, Eileen McNamara, has this to say:
I, and I suspect many others who support legal abortion, had mistakenly assumed that, on this very personal issue, Kerry's conscience was at odds with the teaching of his church. His consistent record in favor of abortion rights, family planning, and reproductive freedom was, I thought, a courageous reflection of an independent mind.

Now, I don't know what to think. I cannot respectfully disagree with him as I do with an abortion opponent whose conscience prompts her to work to unseat lawmakers like Kerry. I understand her. She is acting on principle, lobbying to change laws antithetical to her conscience. I don't understand him, voting consistently in opposition to what he now tells us is one of his core beliefs.

Just so. In the end, Kerry is consistent in that he always tries to have it both ways on all issues.

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