Alma’s Mater by Russell D. Moore

Alma’s Mater

The Violent Hypocrisy of Some Peace & Justice Christians

“Peace and justice” Christians are insistent in telling us they do not wish to move away from the protection of unborn life when they point to other social issues. They simply seek to “expand” Christian social witness from the “Religious Right’s” narrow focus on abortion and marriage to the full range of life issues.

We’re not pro-abortion, they assure us. It’s just that we believe that life doesn’t begin at conception and end at birth. We believe, they say, that global warming and quality daycare and an increased minimum wage are pro-life issues too.

Let us grant that for the moment, setting aside the fact that we know abortion is murder but do not know what God would have us do about global warming. Let us look at the kind of political activists who are drawn to the big tent of the “peace and justice” movement.

Worship & Violence

Last summer, the Reverend Donna Schaper, pastor of Judson Memorial Baptist Church, an American Baptist congregation in New York City, wrote in Tikkun magazine about aborting her daughter, a daughter she named “Alma.”

She wrote that she doesn’t apologize for or even regret her decision. Abortion, she said, has been a positive development, allowing sex to be “recreational” for both men and women. In a chilling line, she declared, “I did what was right for me, for my family, for my work, for my husband, and for my three children.” She continued:

I happen to agree that abortion is a form of murder. I think the quarrel about when life begins is disrespectful to the fetus. I know I murdered the life within me. I could have loved that life but chose not to. I did what men do all the time when they take us to war: they choose violence because, while they believe it is bad, it is still better than the alternatives.

Now, Schaper writes in recent days for “God’s Politics” weblog—one of the leading forums of the “peace and justice” movement—on the subject of, of all things, responding to violence. In response to the Virginia Tech massacre, Schaper offers a “small guide for good worship” for Christians in response to acts of violence.

These include her suggestion to involve “diverse constituencies” in the worship. As she puts it: “This (in my view) is not the time to invoke the name of Jesus so much as the name of the God beyond God. Don’t alienate people who may never have wanted religious connection before!”

It would be appropriate and commendable for that weblog to ask a self-confessed murderer to speak to the issue of violence. After all, a repentant and forgiven murderer stands as one of the pillars of the foundation of the Church, the former Saul of Tarsus. A repentant killer could speak to the horror of violence, as one culpable and redeemed.


Russell D. Moore is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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