Black Lives Matter Isn’t Pro-Life, Period

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Recently at The Federalist, an article appeared in which the author sincerely argued that two popular social movements – Black Lives Matter (BLM) and anti-abortion advocates – pursue a common goal: the respect and preservation life.

Christina Marie Bennett- a writer and pro-lifer who works with pregnant women in crisis environments for the benefit of both mother and child- is challenging the way pro-life advocates have responded, and should respond, to claims of police brutality, the growing frustrations in the black community and Black Lives Matter.

Specifically, Bennett laments the continued dismissal of Black Lives Matter activists and others by pro-lifers who cite black abortion rates when the issue of police brutality is raised. Bennett sees this practice as a kind of pro-life, one-upmanship that minimizes the tragedy of lives “lost through violence.”

For example, Bennett claims the “knee-jerk” response of, “If black lives matter, then why are your abortion rates so high?” deflects from the issue BLM supports. She says the response insinuates that black people don’t care about unborn black lives as much as adult black lives, which calls into question black concerns regarding what lives are more valuable. I’ll return to this point.

Rather than pitting one cause against another, Bennett believes that neither movement should be used to undermine the other because in their respective ways, both movements are trying to safeguard human flourishing. For Bennett both movements are solidly pro-life.

To be fair, Bennett isn’t fully onboard with the Black Lives Matter agenda. She disagrees with the movement on several issues, including its support of killing the pre-born black children. Honorably, she admits to the difficulty of trying to empathize “with a movement that advocates for something I disagree with.” But for her, the resolution comes when she sees, “the movement for what it is,” which is, “a broad group of people with varying levels of involvement, all trying to raise awareness and fight the specific issue of police brutality.”

This exercise in nuance permits her, as a pro-lifer, to winnow away the ongoing negativity that overshadows BLM’s agenda, freeing her to sustain solidarity with the movement’s pursuit of justice- a model she believes that all pro-lifers should follow.

Though I disagree, I am sympathetic to the author’s intention- dispelling the either/or nature of supporting BLM or being pro-life. However I think some of the negativity she wants to minimize in favor of legitimizing BLM, while maintaining fidelity to being pro-life from the womb to the tomb (that part I agree) misses a few essential points.

To begin, the phrase “black lives matter” is incongruent with the movement’s agenda. Black Lives Matter as an ideological movement is primarily concerned with police brutality against blacks. It should therefore change its name to Black Americans Against Police Brutality or something similar to reflect this goal rather than a name that suggests an all-encompassing concern for confronting problems that decrease the quality of black lives.

Black Lives Matter is also a Marxist/socialist movement funded by an admitted cultural destabilizer George Soros, and other leftist organizations, which also calls the movement’s credibility into question.

Also, being pro-life as it relates to the pre-born is an exercise in proactivity. Life can’t be defended from police brutality if it’s prevented from being born. There’s a reason why people say that the most dangerous place for a black child is in its mother’s womb, and that painful admission is found in Bennett’s reflection on the more than 16 million black children killed by abortion since it was made a “right” in 1973. Increasing the black birth rate by decreasing abortion is an intrinsic good.

BLM on the other hand, to the point that it’s pro-life at all, is deliberately reactive, not to mention, misguided.

Aside from supporting black abortion, its focus isn’t on the broken families and the chaotic home and neighborhood environments that create, nurture and contribute to the predictability of blacks being in police confrontations that go south. BLM’s focus is on “systemic racism” that fosters “police brutality,” which is always initially or reflexively cited and deprived of facts to support such accusations. When facts in respective cases are released, invalidating BLM’s racial narrative, it ignores them- up to and including the responsibility and contribution of the deceased to his/her death.

In other words, BLM’s definition of pro-life isn’t discouraging blacks from self-destructive behavior that increases the predictability of encountering police. Rather, they define pro-life as law enforcement officers refusing to use force against any black person/suspect at any time, despite elevated levels of danger- including potential threats to personal or public safety. That’s racial solidarity, being pro-black, not necessarily pro-life. 

Again, Bennett argues that abortion rates and police brutality both deserve attention and shouldn’t be used against each other. I partially agree, but there are very clear reasons why they are.

One reason people, regardless of color, persist in highlighting the issue of black abortion percentages is that members and supporters of Black Lives Matter intentionally avoid discussing black abortion rates. This moral sidestep by BLM, over and over, proves to increasing numbers of people that BLM isn’t concerned with preserving and redeeming black lives in any meaningful way.

To the point, black abortion is specifically raised to gauge black integrity when it comes to the conservation of black lives.

It’s also mentioned because of the selectivity of the moral indignation that inevitably accompanies charges of “police brutality” against blacks, but is nonexistent when black abortion percentages are raised. Bennett confesses abortion destroys black children- more in any given year than all black deaths by law enforcement officers combined.

Blacks are only 13% percent of the population. Black women of childbearing age- not incarcerated and suffering from physical/mental abilities that prevents pregnancy in any given year are only 3-4% of the population. Yet, according to the CDC, these women were responsible for close to 36% of all abortions between 2007 and 2010. Though this demonic act is specifically targeted to black and Hispanic women by white leftists, no one forces these women to kill their black preborn children, all of whom are unarmed. Morally wayward black men and sexually irresponsible back women are complicit in this genocide. And all of this is done under the euphemisms of “choice” “rights” and “reproductive justice.”

The same CDC report said blacks accounted for almost 54% (16,738) of all abortions performed in Georgia (31,244 total), even though blacks are less than a third of the population. In Mississippi, between 1995 and 2010, blacks accounted for almost 72% (39,052) of all abortions while comprising 37% of the population.

In a 2012, report from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, more black babies were killed by abortion (31,328) than were born (24,758) in New York City, totaling over 42% of all abortions performed. In 2010, 60% of all viable, black pregnancies in New York City ended in abortion

According to another pro-life organization, 870 black babies are aborted every day in the United States. The report re-emphasizes that 37 percent of all abortions in the U.S. are performed on black women. Yet, as day follows night, there’s no outrage.

Contrast that to the data that tracks police-involved fatalities from the Washington Post.

According to the Washington Post’s data- based on news reports, public records, social media and other sources, as of 9:45 am Friday morning (10/21/2016), 772 people have been shot and killed by police this year (2016).

Of the 772 killed by police so far, 363 of them have been white, 188 have been black. This unofficial statistic here directly refutes, again, any and all claims that the police are hunting, targeting or killing blacks indiscriminately. Almost twice as many whites have been shot and killed by police than have blacks.

Of the 188 blacks killed, only 16 were unarmed when shot.

Now, of the sixteen unarmed blacks who were shot and killed by police, all but three either resisted arrest, refused orders of compliance and submission, attempted to flee or attacked an officer.

Three!

Now we can all agree- life lost under these circumstances is unfortunate. But in reality, this sort of racial exaggeration- the false cries of ‘systemic racism’, ‘racial injustice’ and cops being ‘racist agents of the state’ by BLM and other racial justice warriors and activists over the killing of three unarmed blacks, is dishonest and disproportionate to say the least.

So, 870 black babies are killed, daily, while only three unarmed blacks (who didn’t resist arrest) have been killed by police this year as of this writing, is why this issue is raised. Black Lives Matter claims to be against lethal force against unarmed blacks. What exactly is abortion if it’s not precisely that- lethal force used against an unarmed, defenseless black life?

The reality is that people correlate the level of black outrage to matters of black importance. Based upon that metric, the general public is convinced that blacks care more about blacks killed by (white) police officers than those killed in abortion clinics. Further, it’ been argued that blacks are apathetic regarding black children based on the proficiency at which they kill their unborn children.

Moreover, the raising of this issue has to do with moral priorities. There’s a moral distinction between those killed by abortion and those killed by police officers. Pre-born black children murdered by abortion are innocent; the overwhelming majority of blacks killed by police aren’t. (This isn’t to say that blacks that have been killed by cops deserved to die.) Innocent black children killed by abortion should, by definition, take priority over criminals, felons, and others who contributed to their deaths via the police by resisting arrest, attacking cops or attempting to flee.

Again, I understand the necessity and obligation of being pro-life from birth until death, but BLM isn’t the vehicle to appropriate or sympathize with in pursuit of this noble objective.

The value of black life should be protected from the very beginning; as stated, BLM is against that.

Black children deserve a stable family environment that includes a mother and father, not a 70%-plus illegitimacy rate- born in tumultuous homes of a single mothers and half-siblings from multi-sexual partnered relationships. President Barack Obama said that, “children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves.” Being pro-life means undoing this social dysfunction, which reduces run-ins with the police, which reduces the chances of experiencing police brutality and death.

Black Lives Matter says nothing about that.

Being pro-life means black children deserve quality education, which charter schools deliver, rather than inferior schooling because they’re black, poor, or both. BLM (and the NAACP) is adamantly against charter schools for black children, in favor of the status quo that has deliberately undereducated and underserved black children for generations.

The anti-charter school stance of BLM (and the NAACP) has put these so-called civil rights groups at odds with the majority of blacks. A recent study demonstrated that 82 percent of black parents with school-aged children enthusiastically support charter schools.

Black students comprise 27 percent of enrollment in charter schools, compared to 16 percent of black enrollment in traditional public schools.

Black Lives Matter can say what it will about the dignity and worth of black lives, but unless and until members and supporters of the movement start demonstrating that the totality of black lives matter to blacks first, black lives won’t matter to anyone else.

Being pro-life is commendable. Legitimizing Black Lives Matter isn’t.

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The Politics of Jen Hatmaker are Influenced More by Leftism than Christianity

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The 2016 election cycle has definitely cultivated an interesting and divergent compendium of Christian and evangelical appraisals concerning the respective candidates running for president.

Donald Trump’s unconventional and unexpected campaign that earned him the Republican nomination has forced conservative evangelicals into a fratricidal conflict that has and will change the context of conservative Christian political witness going forward.

While the friction has at times been exaggerated and pharisaical, generally, it’s a good thing.

The public bickering among evangelicals has been awkward to watch but the separation and potential divorce between religious conservatives and the GOP is long overdue. This is a necessary step to salvage and redeem the religious and theological character of evangelicalism. This renovation project is indispensible to the moral integrity of Christian socio-political testimony.

The same can’t be said of so-called Christian Progressives.

There is very little internal disagreement about the moral conflict of supporting Hillary Clinton in light of her repeated and predictable tendency of systematic corruption and dishonesty. Many on the Christian Left have simply rationalized and compartmentalized Clinton’s unrestricted character flaws- not so much as the lesser of two evils (though there is some of that)- as a political and moral obligation to support her. By default, they also support other progressive social policies of the Left.

And they’re using every opportunity to say as much.

Christian author, public speaker and reality-TV personality Jen Hatmaker granted a short interview to Religion News Service to discuss her perspective on the 2016 presidential election, her views on homosexuality, abortion, and Black Lives Matter.

In the interview- filled with half-truths and straw man positions, Hatmaker began by addressing and glossing over Hillary Clinton’s wretched character, admitting that she’s still open to voting for Clinton come November.

She then criticized Donald Trump’s behavior as unfit for the presidency; here, I don’t necessarily disagree with her. Donald Trump continues to do and say numerous things undeserving of the Executive Office.

But I think Hatmaker erred in repeating the mistake of oversimplifying who and why people support Donald Trump. There are, to be certain, “deplorable” people backing Trump. Anti-Semitic, ethno-nationalist white supremacists fit this distinction. But I think it’s a mistake to dismiss and unfairly generalize those, Christians included, who reject this kind of disgraceful racial populism, but still maintain support for Donald Trump.

Hatmaker then discussed her free-thinking views on gay marriage and LGBT community. It’s no surprise what she believes with respect to this issue. She says,

From a civil rights and civil liberties side and from just a human being side, any two adults have the right to choose who they want to love. And they should be afforded the same legal protections as any of us. I would never wish anything less for my gay friendsNot only are these our neighbors and friends, but they are brothers and sisters in Christ. They are adopted into the same family as the rest of us, and the church hasn’t treated the LGBT community like family.

Whether gays are our neighbors or friends- it’s not about choosing whom to love- that has never been the issue. People are free to choose whom to love without restriction. It’s about reinventing marriage as a social justice concept.

Moreover, marriage isn’t a “civil right,” or a “liberty,” nor is it found in the Constitution. No one, gay or straight, had the “right” to marry until the Supreme Court created one specifically for gays and lesbians.

And what about the civil rights of Christians who’ve experienced discrimination because of this newfound LGBTQIA “right”?

Wanting to follow the Supreme Court’s lead, Jen Hatmaker wants the church to make special considerations for gay/lesbian Christians that we shouldn’t (and don’t) make for other Christians. Gay Christians may be kinfolk in Christ, but that doesn’t necessitate Christians excusing sin, twisting theology, and upending the divine ordination of man-woman marriage for a false display of religious compassion. Like many other groups- the church is defined by orthodoxy- designated by what it believes just as it’s defined by what it doesn’t. Loving our neighbor and treating them in ways we seek or desire to be treated doesn’t entail compromising the comprehensive nature of biblical teaching and church tradition.

Hatmaker then discusses her expanded understanding of being pro-life when she says,

…my pro-life ethic has infinitely expanded from just simply being anti-abortion… pro-life includes the life of the struggling single mom who decides to have that kid and they’re poor. It means being pro-refugee. It means being pro-Muslim. My pro-life ethic… has expanded. 

There’s something incredibly disingenuous about a Christian community that screams about abortion, but then refuses to support the very programs that are going to stabilize vulnerable, economically fragile families that decide to keep their kids. Some Christians want the baby born, but then don’t want to help the mama raise that baby. 

The Christians she refers to are caricatures she created- meaning she oversimplifies the issues to embarrass Christians.

This view of what it means to be pro-life, though accurate, is falsely used to marginalize Christian anti-abortionists. The Christians she refers to are misrepresentations. Hatmaker uses the superficial talking points of the Left to malign and deride fellow religious pro-lifers. It’s inappropriate, especially for a Christian and she discredited herself by doing this.

Additionally, what pro-lifer/anti-abortion Christian is against helping poor single moms? Or supporting programs to help those in need (rather than grifters who seek personal gain through exploitation)? Jen Hatmaker lied about pro-life anti-abortion Christians presumably because they disagree with an expansive and corrupt welfare state that encourages dependency and compromises human dignity.

What does being “pro-refugee” mean? Sounds good, but it doesn’t mean anything because Hatmaker doesn’t define it in real terms.

Same with her being ‘pro-Muslim’? What does that mean, exactly? Supporting all Muslims, even the ones who believe it’s Allah’s will to maim and kill nonbelievers and all those who refuse to submit to specific religious convictions?

Hatmaker finishes by highlighting her racial justice cred, saying she supports Black Lives Matter based on “evidence and documented research.” She also voices concern over the potential (inevitable) treatment of her adopted black son by police in the future.

The church is AWOL on racial unity and reconciliation and it has outsourced its moral obligation to lead onto racial and social justice warriors. In my mind, there’s no doubt about that. But the void created by the lack of Christian presence and spiritual leadership should not prompt Christians to support a corrupt outfit like Black Lives Matter. Period. It’s a movement methodically based on lies and deliberately diverts attention away from more pressing issues- like black criminality, high black abortion rates, fatherless black families, high black unemployment rates, and substandard education- that would actually establish that black lives matter.

As for evidence and research– both completely undermine the foundation Black Lives Matter is built on. And she would know this if she actually looked it up rather than trying to be right on all the right issues.

These positions are intellectually dishonest and intensely foolish. I’m not sure what happened to Jen Hatmaker but this exemplifies the irresponsible quality of thought on the religious Left. Religious progressives should follow the lead of their conservative evangelical brethren and divorce themselves from progressive politics to salvage what’s left of their religious and social credibility.

Book Review: Heal Us, Emmanuel: A Call for Racial Reconciliation, Representation, and Unity in the Church

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Book Review: Heal Us, Emmanuel: A Call for Racial Reconciliation, Representation, and Unity in the Church, edited by Doug Serven. Oklahoma City, OK: White Blackbird Books, 2016. 326 pp.

For various reasons, the topics of racial discrimination and racial injustice are predictably tense and sensitive areas of public discussion. During the past eight years particularly, attempting to frankly examine these subjects has become even more of a fragile and unproductive endeavor that has curtailed open and honest dialogue in favor of racial monologues that have increased racial resentment and hostility. The product of marginalizing a variety of serious and authentic voices on racial issues has suppressed what could be productive, diverse and candid discussions, which would lead to actual approaches to mitigate racial discrimination where it actually exists.

Though the multiplicity of responsible voices willing and able to faithfully analyze and address such tenuous topics are relegated to the margins in society at large, these voices are also seemingly silenced in the one place they shouldn’t be- the American church. Many Christians have increasingly and repeatedly acknowledged the church’s ostensible absence or silence on such important issues. These observers lament the church’s lack of leadership and action in being the model for racial reconciliation and unity the country desperately needs.

 Many of the Christians concerned by the church’s reluctance and inactivity to genuinely confront the race issue are found in the book, Heal Us, Emmanuel: A Call for Racial reconciliation, Representation and Unity in the Church.

Heal Us, Emmanuel is an assorted collection of 30 essays from 30 different authors, all of which are pastors or elders in the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA). The introduction informs the reader that the majority of the contributors are white and theologically conservative, though there are contributions from black, Latino and Asian Americans- also members of Presbyterian Church leadership- who share similar perspectives concerning racial problems in the PCA. The narratives, in their unique way, detail how blindness to racial issues for some and an increased racial consciousness for others have influenced their personal lives and the context of their respective ministries. The goal of Heal Us, Emmanuel, is to initiate the process of racial reconciliation and unity within the church, starting with biblical confession, repentance and Christ-like forgiveness.

The narratives in the book are methodically portioned into six sections, with each section bearing a corresponding theme that reflects the systematic emphasis of the book as a whole. The six- step procedural is as follows:

  1. An Invitation to Listen
  2. Awakening to Privilege
  3. Sins of Omission and Commission
  4. Historical and Theological Perspectives
  5. Confession and Reconciliation Are Necessary
  6. A Way Forward

This six-part narrative is a map that guides and informs the reader of the practical, religious and theological consequences of Christians genuinely confronting the implications of submitting to the gospel’s directive of eliminating barriers of racial resentment and ethnic hostility. Engaging in the difficult and uncomfortable task of interracial healing and racial reconciliation potentially achieves what one author called, redemptive unity.

Though the personal storylines about racialized experiences come from self-identified Presbyterians contextually anchored in the PCA, I think much of what was expressed is representative of the American church as a whole. Truthfully, my experience guides my belief that the American church hasn’t approached the issue of multiethnic unity and interracial reconciliation with the seriousness and urgency it deserves. Increasingly I’m of the opinion that many American churches have very little interest in challenging the discordant issues of race and reconciliation. True, as chapter three intends, the subject of race is sometimes omitted, in part, because being in the dominant class means not having to experience the prospective pain, hurt and frustration of racial discrimination. The omission is unintentional. Not having an expectation of encountering racism means not having to prepare or react in defensive or emotionally protective ways. In other words, out of sight, out of mind.

On the other hand, omission can be commission. As one author notes about Presbyterians (104-114) (which again can be applied to the American church overall), excluding blacks is deliberate. Historically, this exclusion can be traced to slavery when blacks were forced to create separate racial denominations that allowed them to fully participate in worship; through Jim Crow and the civil rights era when white churches compromised the integrity of the gospel, and their public Christian witness by consistently staying silent with respect to the evils of segregation and the suffering of their black brothers and sisters in Christ (120).

Presently, if and when the church apprehensively attempts to address the topic, the enterprise isn’t as effective as it can be, I believe, because the modus operandi of the American church is replicating the failed and inadequate “racial justice” agendas of our culture rather than employing a gospel-centered approach that integrates love, forgiveness, repentance and acceptance on the path toward (re)conciliation (theological unity, 183). One author referred to the socially acceptable pattern of considering black people, and confronting issues of racism while judging “progress” by socio-economic, quality-of-life factors, as an ineffective “political mindset” that underemphasizes the gospel and achieving redemptive ethnic unity (3-9). The “political mindset” that perceives social and economic parity or black advancement prefers a “better America” than God’s kingdom and gospel based on interracial Christian unity (3-7).

The relative lack of attentiveness, apprehension and reluctance of the church to faithfully address issues of race, repentance, and reconciliation serves to preserve the racial discontentment that includes both the church and culture. The church’s absence and perceived indifference to racial unity allows lesser quality movements, and agendas, that nurture racial grievance and discord, like Black Lives Matter, to fill the void. Heal Us, Emmanuel is a conversation starter in this regard because it encourages white Christians to own and confess the sin of racism. The book also encourages white Christians to commit to theologically influencing systems and structures in churches and denominations (and society) that lead to redemption, reconciliation and unity in the body of Christ.

And that’s the rub. This book can’t just encourage people to start a conversation or continue a dialogue. Talk doesn’t equal action; it should necessarily lead to it.

Heal Us Emmanuel is worth the time. It read as a sincere attempt of now self-aware white Christians to acknowledge the evils and consequences of racism in both American church and American culture. The book is admittedly unidirectional, primarily dealing with the obligations of white Christians to resolve the problem of race, and thus, limiting. That resolution shouldn’t include admitting that behaviors and thoughts- or lack of behaviors and thoughts- are “racist” when they aren’t. Nor should it include social or religious genuflecting when and where it isn’t needed, which I felt some of the essays rhetorically reflected. I think these actions, the result of white guilt, complicate the tasks of racial healing and unity.

Nevertheless, Heal Us, Emmanuel is an honest and needed contribution in pushing the American church toward its overlooked responsibility in shaping a gospel-based strategy of racial healing and unity.