Pastor Tony Evans has seen God bless his ministry in Dallas. He started with a small home-based church in 1976. Today, Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship has grown to 9,500 members. Among the many ministries of Oak Cliff is its Adopt-a-School initiative. Rev. Evans and the members of his congregation have partnered with 65 urban schools to provide mentoring, tutoring, and family support services.

In a most revealing interview with Emily Belz on the World Magazine website, Dr. Evans speaks important truths about how Christians should vote. "I always start with the right to life because all other rights depend on your ability to live." How heartening. How important. If only all pastors, priests, and rabbis in America had stood forthrightly for this inalienable right. America would be that kinder, gentler place we all seek.

Dr. Evans's statement was especially encouraging to me. Forty years ago, I was an unchurched young Democrat, seeking my first elective office as a Assemblyman in my native New York State. I knew my Ten Commandments, of course, but I had never read the passage where the Psalmist addresses his words to God:

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mothers womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Even so, it was possible through the application of natural right reason for me to oppose abortion as the direct taking of innocent human life. Jefferson did not cite Scripture when he wrote: "The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time." It is no mystery when God gives us life. Science has incontrovertibly told us: every human life begins at conception and continues, whether intra- or extra-uterinely until death.

Dr. Evans begins with the right to life because it is foundational. Without life, no other rights matter. It's especially good to see this brave black pastor speak so strongly. The evils of slavery and segregation were based on a denial that some Americans were "created equal."

As Abraham Lincoln put it: "Nothing stamped in the divine image was sent into the world to be trod upon." Slavery treads upon that divine image. So does segregation. And abortion is the the cruelest and most unjust result of treading upon that divine image.

Tony Evans goes on in this vital interview to defend the biblical definition of marriage. No one has the right to counterfeit marriage. This is not a matter of imposing Christians' beliefs on the rest of society. Christians will still go to church to have their true marriages blessed.

Those who will suffer most from the ending of marriage are those who suffer most right now--the poor, the marginal, women, children, and minorities. In standing for marriage, Tony Evans his showing his compassion for the least of these.

There is an alarming trend in the growing inequality of incomes in America. Too many Americans are seeing their prospects for a better life eclipsed by a go-go culture that leaves them far behind. What we disagree about is why this is happening.

Christian leaders like Tony Evans are pointing to the solutions. Protect life and defend marriage and you will see these disturbing traits minimized.

When we see horrific figures like 71% of unborn children aborted in Harlem and 78% of the unborn children of black mothers aborted in Mississippi, we know that Rev. Jesse Jackson was right to denounce abortion as "black genocide."

The right to life and the defense of marriage are the civil rights issues of our day. In 1866, newly freed slaves walked to Tennessee in their thousands to have their marriages legally recorded. Those striving young couples understood something we have lost sight of today: they prayed in hope for real change in their lives. We should join our prayers to theirs. And we should all thank God for the leadership of Rev. Dr. Tony Evans and Dallas's Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship.