by Rob Schwarzwalder
August 19, 2009
Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons, but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I cannot simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all. Now this is going to be difficult for some who believe in the inerrancy of the Bible, as many evangelicals do. But in a pluralistic democracy, we have no choice. Politics depends on our ability to persuade each other of common aims based on a common reality. - Barack Obama
Then-Senator Obama made this statement during his speech to Jim Wallis’ “Call to Renewal” conference in 2006. Note two things:
(1) He effectively denies the commonality of natural law and the conscience the foundation of the universal values he commends and links opposition to abortion only to the revelation of Scripture.
(2) He also suggests that opposing abortion cannot be justified by our “common reality.”
As the first point, is the President prepared to argue that no “self evident truths” exist? Is the assertion that all men are created equal and have rights endowed to them by a Creator too culture-specific for Mr. Obama? And is the validity of these assertions determined simply by the number of people who agree with them?
As to the second point, is the “common reality” determined by the 50 percent plus one? If so, did the “common reality” of the Japanese military state in the 1930s surely justify the rape of Nanking?
Mr. Obama calls for our being amenable to reason. Yet he is unreasonable in refusing seriously to interact with the irrefutable scientific evidence that personhood begins at conception and, if so, that every person has value independent of his or her mother from that moment and therefore possesses and should obtain a legally-recognized right to life.
Perhaps the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer captured it all most clearly:
Destruction of the embryo in the mother’s womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed upon this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder.
Ethics (New York; Macmillan, 1965), pp. 175-6.