Biblical Perspective – John Kerry on Abortion and Legislating Personal Morality
As John Kerry moves closer to the democratic nomination for President, the press is busily scrutinizing his political positions. The most recent disclosure is Kerry’s run-in with his own church. While his Catholic church is adamantly pro-life, Kerry is pro-choice.
In a statement last summer Kerry argued, “I believe in the church and I care about it enormously. But I think that it’s important to not have the church instructing politicians. That is an inappropriate crossing of the line in America.” He went on further to say he agrees with his church on abortion as a matter of faith but doesn’t think he should legislate personal beliefs.
Whoa! If this man has the potential of being our next President, we can’t let this statement pass without addressing the moral confusion here. It would be one thing if Kerry said that he believed pro-choice was the morally right position, but to oppose the pro-life position for the reasons given is as scary as the Dean scream.
Test the moral logic here. What if instead of saying “I think that it’s important to not have the church instructing politicians,” Kerry said, “I think that it’s important to not have the NOW, or the NAACP, or the ACLU instructing politicians”? His campaign for president would be over! What is it about the values of religious people that put them outside the category of human values? Shouldn’t religious people be on equal footing with all other Americans?
Once a religious body takes a stand on a moral issue, are we to believe the issue now becomes untouchable for the state? If the church takes a position against legalized drugs or infanticide, does this mean the state can no longer legislate in these matters? Of course not! The Supreme Court had the common sense to base Roe v. Wade on the privacy rights of the fourth amendment, not on the establishment clause of the first Amendment. They understood “separation of church and state” had nothing to do with the state’s decision in the abortion issue. The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is not exclusive to church teachings–this is the teaching of natural law.
One has to wonder if a seasoned lawyer like John Kerry actually believes the rationale of what he is saying, or whether this is a way to be pro-choice without appearing personally immoral before pro-life Americans. Crying “separation of church and state” has become the favorite tool for politicians who want to avoid wrestling the moral issues. We see this tactic also being used by the left to liberalize social law. If there is any state-enforced morality that the left wants changed, find a large religious organization that teaches it. By using the establishment clause of the first amendment, the left can convince people that the moral issue ought to be removed from the sphere of state control. This technique is being used extensively in support of homosexual marriages. Generations in the future may record this as the legal technique used by the left to plunge Americainto debauchery.
Kerry’s statement that religion should not influence politics is just too close to the mentality that fostered the persecution of Christians in Rome. In AD170 Emperor Marcus Aurelius, passed an edict forbidding Christians from influencing people’s minds; in AD303 the Emperor Diocletian passed an edict depriving Christians of public office lest they should sway the secular state. Is this where we are going with “separation of church and state?”
And what of the statement that Kerry agrees with his church on abortion as a matter of faith, but doesn’t think he should legislate his personal beliefs? Here is a guy who has vowed as President to appoint only pro-choice judges to the bench! By not legislating pro-life, is he not by default choosing to legislate pro-choice beliefs?
The government’s decision, that the right of the mother to choose is above the right of the child to live, constitutes legislating personal beliefs just as much as the reverse position.
Kerry is certainly willing to legislate his personal beliefs when it comes to the war in Iraq! If he were really against abortion, as he is against the war, he would have no difficulty legislating his alleged pro-life beliefs. Every politician legislates strong personal beliefs, and that is why we elect them to office.
Of course, it is reasonable to have two spheres of beliefs: those you impose on yourself and those you believe ought to be imposed on everyone. But the real moral judgment Kerry is making is that abortion is not wrong enough to rise to the level of public morality. That opinion does not constitute a true personal stand against abortion.
So why must Kerry affront the intelligence of the American people by claiming he personally agrees with the church on abortion? It sounds as ludicrous as saying I am personally against slavery, but I don’t believe the state should prohibit it. The essence of being against slavery means that you want it outlawed; otherwise, you are really not against slavery! Pro-life, like anti-slavery, involves the defense of others, which puts it in the realm of public, not private, morality. Even the left itself holds that the criteria by which the state should involve itself in private moral behavior is when it involves a nonconsenting second party. One can’t be consistently pro-life and not legislate pro-life morality. It contradicts the very nature of the moral debate.
Rather than hiding behind the “personal beliefs” argument, and the “separation of church and state” argument, the American voters would much rather hear politicians admit the truth. But sadly, that is too much to expect from unprincipled politicians. Deceit and evil go hand-in-hand.
So we have come to expect the rhetoric of the politicians, but what should frighten us much more is the absence of a public outcry. Where are the calls for Kerry to make a public apology to religious America for asserting, the church should not instruct politicians? Why don’t the voters see the danger of Kerry’s position? And where are the reporters who will take Kerry to task on the claim that he does not legislate personal beliefs? Previous generations would have laughed a man like Kerry off the platform for making such irrational arguments. If Americans don’t start thinking hard about what our leaders are saying, we are going to lose our ability to discern. We will be like sheep led to the slaughter.
Bradford E Winship
Harbor Bible Church
Laurence Harbor, NJ