I don’t speak for the others on the team here but on abortion there is no diversity. All are firmly opposed, as is the SBC officially in resolutions, and all SBC leaders that have spoken on the matter.
Nothing has changed in years about this in the SBC except, as I see it, the intensity of reaction towards anyone who doesn’t favor political solutions that would eradicate abortion and make it illegal.
Where this has put some in our circles is in a place where the most vicious, harsh, hate-filled rhetoric may be directed, with presumed divine sanction, at any who depart in the slightest degree from absolutist anti-abortion positions, or who vote for or associate with those who do.
It is often put like Jonathan Leeman put it (as quoted in Tony Jones’ article here): “I find it hard to believe someone could be a Christian and vote for a pro choice candidate.” I’ve heard or read various SBC leaders make similar statements. It is a personal and somewhat mitigated statement, the speaker relying on his subjective mental processes (“hard to believe” meaning hard but not impossible, I suppose and, please note, I do not put Leeman in the group of extremists on this.).
When the respective proportions evangelical voters are considered, large percentages of white evangelicals vote Republican and large percentages of African-American evangelical voters vote Democratic. Is it totally unfair to conclude that some find it hard to believe that African-American evangelicals are Christians at all because of their support for the Democratic party which has consistently been in favor of legal abortions?
It is unfair in my view though manifestly not in the view of extremists on this.
Consider the reaction to the death of civil rights hero and longtime congressman, John Lewis. Because Lewis, called to preach when he was five and preaching to chickens in his yard, was a Democrat and supported Democratic policies. Lewis was viciously reviled as evil, and worse.
Repeated instances of this scenario lead me to believe that many who identify as followers of Christ must conclude that pure, unadulterated hatred is permitted against all Democrats.
If vein popping, apoplectic, tonsil throbbing insults and hate speech are hurled in the name of Jesus towards Democrats, abortionists, and any who vote or associate with them, how may this American Christian subset be distinguished from infidel-hating religious bigots and extremists around the world? Is it even possible with this attitude to have a denomination that includes both white and African-American congregations cooperating together, much less cooperating together in a single congregation?
Can no one vote for a Democratic candidate in this country without being suspected of not being a Christian? Looks to me like the extremist anti-abortions are less lovers of life and more misogynistic and racist.
Perhaps at least those of us who are pastors, who understand that we minister and preach to some whose lives are touched by abortion, would find a way to outline the moral truth of the matter with a love and compassion. Isn’t that a better way, a more fruitful and productive way?
Is it asking something more than is already expected of a follower of Christ?
If asked whether or no I have ever voted for a “pro-abortion” candidate, I’m sure I have, since many candidates have a non-absolutist position – against abortion save for rape and incest exceptions. I don’t have a scorecard handy. You can look it up. So, what’s the difference between the absolutist position (only 12% of Americans believe abortion should be illegal in all cases) and a position that allows for exceptions. No Democratic national candidate has received my vote since, well, never mind. I’ve been running from that vote for 44 years.
Pastors of multi-racial, multi-ethnic churches, you have my sympathy and prayers in an election year.