By Zachary Bailes
The Mississippi Baptist Convention is hot on the trail of abortion. Off to the legislature and voting populace they have turned to end the reign of abortion in Mississippi. With a mighty arm and swift sword they will end the life of abortion, and its seed of secularism and immorality throughout the land.
And, then, maybe they can start caring about living out the Kingdom of God.
The Mississippi Baptist Convention supports an amendment that would declare a fertilized human egg to be a person, effectively branding abortion as murder. Murder, they wrote.
This piece of legislation has nothing to say about abortion in cases of rape, incest or the mother’s health. Yet, Jim Futral, executive director of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board, maintains that, “This amendment is not just an anti-abortion position, but it is a pro-life position.”
Beyond the facts that Futral is a male speaking for women’s bodies and that Mississippi will effectively take a step back to the 1950s, there’s the subtle suggestion that MBC is interested in “pro-life” only when abortion happens to be in the same sentence. If, as Futral says, abortion is a moral, ethical and spiritual issue, then what moral, ethical and spiritual actions has the MBC taken?
Before abortion becomes an issue, issues such as socio-economic status, family planning and education play into the hot-button issue we call “abortion.” Structural issues extend deep into our social existence, and “ending abortion” does nothing to actually change society. The greatest immorality is not the woman that chooses abortion, but that those in privileged positions repeatedly ignore structural oppression that makes them necessary.
Futral writes that “One thing is for sure — if we do nothing, we will miss a choice opportunity for making a decision that will reverberate across our land.” I hate to say it, but he’s correct. For that reason I hope Baptists across the United States will not use the abolishment of abortion as yet another tool to beat down those suffering under socio-economic injustice. I hope Baptists will find a dissenting spirit, deep-seeded within, to stand up to structural oppression instead of enabling greater oppression.
I have no problem with people quoting the Bible and saying that humans were made in the image of God. Jimmy Porter says: “In fact, the Bible says we are created in the image of God. We are the only ones. God felt that life was very special and values it. The Lord expects us to value life even as He does.”
Go ahead and quote passages from the Bible, but don’t misquote or forget to read those passages your “Lord and Savior” said 2,000 years ago. Have we chosen to forget the Beatitudes? The command to love God and neighbor? The call to challenge unjust structures?
“Pro-life” has become nothing more than a stance against abortion. If the MBC and others across the United States were really “pro-life,” they would abolish the death penalty, increase taxes on the rich, improve public education for all people and root out the moral, ethical and spiritual gangrene that is ignorance, indifference and placated piety.
I’m sure the MBC will receive donations from across the United States because they support this amendment. Their accounts will grow, but their prophetic voice will shrink.
It is easy to make abortion a liberal/conservative issue, but before it becomes a partisan issue it is first a human issue. Its roots are found in our willingness or unwillingness to root out the oppression upon all people. Actions such as those by MBC only demonstrate that some Baptists remain more concerned about being “pro-life” instead of transforming lives — their own included.