Uniting for Life
Let's Tear Down the Wall Brick by
Brick And Build a Bridge Stick by Stick
Pro-Life Congressmen Work to
Reverse Clinton's Pro-Abortion Directives
PC (USA) General Assembly
Unwilling to Affirm When Human Life Begins
NPRC Members Attend Women's
Conference in Beijing
World Pro-life Congress
Uniting Around the Gospel of
Sharings From Rome
Her Conscience and Her God
NPRC Sponsors Prayer Vigil Jan. 21
Sanctity of Life Materials
NPRC Seeks New Members
Let's Tear Down the Wall Brick
by Brick And Build a Bridge Stick by Stick
By Ernest Ohlhoff, NPRC Treasurer
For too long, our numerous Christian Churches have been building and
reinforcing the "denominational walls" which divide us. We have focused too much
on our differences, which I believe in the grand scheme of things are relatively
minor, and we have too often overlooked our much larger and more fundamental
shared Christian heritage.
Unfortunately, it is not until we are confronted by a societal atrocity which
threatens the very base of our culture, that we are able to set aside our
differences and unite to fight a common enemy. Legalized abortion is an issue
that directly threatens the fundamental tenants of Christianity. Regardless of
the nuances and denominational differences, the overwhelming majority of
Christians believe abortion is fundamentally wrong.
The National Pro-Life Religious Council (NPRC) is an example of Christian
leaders setting aside their denominational differences and joining together to
restore legal protection to the unborn, the elderly and the disabled. The
process of forming an interdenominational pro-life group has been slow, but the
foundation of NPRC is strong.
We stand today united. We are of many different denominations and traditions
but we are of one voice on the issue of life. All life comes from God and as
Christians it is our responsibility to nurture and protect life from conception
to natural death.
Pro-life Congressmen Work to Reverse
Clinton's Pro-Abortion Directives
In the last days of 1995, many of the pro-life movement's
congressional priorities were still tangled up in the budget negotiations
between Congress and the White House. The House passed numerous pro-life
amendments, but many of these were stalled in the Senate. Thus far, only two
have become law: one cutting off abortion insurance for federal employees, the
other banning performance of abortions on military bases.
In a major pro-life victory, both houses passed slightly different versions
of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (HR 1833). This is the first time since
Roe v. Wade that Congress has voted to ban any type of abortion. Final
congressional approval of the bill was expected to take place in early 1996.
President Clinton threatened to veto the bill.
Since his first day in office, President Clinton has aggressively overturned
the restrictions on abortion enacted during the Reagan and Bush administrations,
encouraging abortions through federal health plans, military facilities,
medicaid, foreign aid, and the District of Columbia appropriations.
Let us all pray that our leaders will have the wisdom and courage to create
laws that will protect unborn children, the vulnerable elderly, and the
PC (USA) General Assembly Unwilling To
Affirm When Human Life Begins
The current abortion policy of the Presbyterian Church
(USA), adopted by the General Assembly of 1992, says that once a human life has
begun it is a sin to take it. But the policy also says that no law or
administrative decision should limit access to abortion, and thereby advocates
for unrestricted abortion. Though the statements sound irreconcilable to any
reasonable person, they are made possible by a loophole in the policy that says
Presbyterians have differing points of view about when a human life begins. The
policy defines five possibilities which it says Presbyterians hold: conception,
quickening, viability, when the Harvard Medical school criteria are met, and
Cincinnati Presbytery asked the PC (USA) to affirm that the beginning
of a human life is a matter of demonstrable scientific evidence rather than
multiple opinions. They sent an overture (95-30) asking the 1995 General
Assembly to acknowledge that a human life begins at fertilization.
Extensive testimony by highly credentialed specialists in genetics,
neonatology, obstetrics and gynecology, and pediatrics was unanimous in
asserting that the beginning point of human life is at fertilization. Yet the
General Assembly did not affirm the scientific facts and voted roughly 2-1
against adopting the overture. Most commissioners who spoke in committee and on
the floor of the assembly, regardless of their convictions about abortion,
agreed that human life begins at fertilization. The disagreement did not occur
on the substance of the overture but, rather, on the implications of officially
recognizing and stating the fact….
In the end, the debate revealed that many commissioners were not willing to
affirm what they know to be true about the beginning of life. The implications
of the statement for the morality of abortion decisions were too great a burden
for them to bear.
The Presbyterian Church, prior to the 1970s was very clear about when human
life begins and the Christian obligation to protect and nurture it. In 1962, for
example, the General Assembly said, "The fetus is a human life to be protected
by the criminal law from the moment when the ovum is fertilized."
The refusal of the 1992 General Assembly to adopt the Cincinnati overture is
only one example of how obscured the facts have become in the Church in recent
decades....We can be sure there were commissioners who went home knowing the
truth regardless of how they voted. [Excerpted from Presbyterians Pro-Life News,
By Rev. Ben Sheldon
At a recent meeting of the Presbyterians Pro-life (PPL) Board in Kansas City,
several important steps were taken to expand the outreach and influence of the
organization within the Presbyterian Church (USA).
Most notable is the decision to promote and support adoption as an
alternative to abortion. To accomplish this, PPL has added an Adoption Resource
Coordinator to its staff. Mrs. June Ring of Pittsburgh will fill this post to be
a catalyst in the PC (USA) to help the church overcome existing and potential
barriers to adoption as a viable choice in a crisis pregnancy. The goal is to
promote, train, teach, consult and encourage Presbyterians in adoption.
Additionally, a staff person to head up service ministry and local chapter
development has been hired. Mrs. Di Lupton of Olathe, Kansas, will work to
develop models for local individual congregations to find ways to provide
alternatives to abortion. She will also be seeking to build up local chapters of
PPL. Presently there are almost 100 such chapters in virtually every sector of
In other actions, the PPL Board accepted my decision to retire. I have been
President for the past 12 years. Dr. Donald Elliott, pastor in Corinth,
Mississippi, will be my successor. I will continue as Executive Director of
NPRC Members Attend
Women's Conference in Beijing
By Marilyn Heigl
Three NPRC members attended the UN Fourth World Conference on Women in
Beijing, China: Terry Schlossberg of Presbyterians Pro-Life and myself [National
Organization of Episcopalians for Life (NOEL)], representing the Ecumenical
Coalition on Women and Society (ECWS); and Gail Quinn, official delegate for the
Vatican. The ECWS was a non-governmental organization (NGO), sponsored by the
Institute on Religion and Democracy, to be a voice for life and religious
freedom for women at the conference.
Under the banner of "Equality, Development and Peace," the women's conference
began in late August as approximately 20,000 registered participants gathered in
Beijing and Huirou (a farming community and site of the NGO Forum).
For all the effort on the part of the Chinese government to restrict and even
forbid religious expression, religion and spirituality seemed to permeate the
forum and conference. There were more than 100 workshops and seminars that
indicated the obvious feminist theology that was clearly on the agenda at the
conference. To name a few, there were such titles as "Weaving the Connections:
Women, the Earth, and the World's Religions;" "Guided Meditation for the Healing
of Mother Earth;" and "How Religious Fundamentalism Helps the Spread of Aids."
"Abortion Rights" and "Reproductive Health" concerns were dominant themes in
the hundreds of seminars and forums offered during the two-week NGO Forum. The
ECWS team divided up daily to attend as many of the sessions as possible, and
became a consistent and repetitive voice for the traditional Christian women's
perspective on issues such as abortion, abstinence education, religious freedom
for women, and traditional family values. Rep. Chris Smith (R/NJ), House
pro-life leader, spoke at an ECWS workshop.
The language on abortion in the Platform for Action remains the same as in
the Cairo Conference document, stating, "in no case should abortion be promoted
as a means of family planning." However, the term "reproductive rights" in UN
documents must now always be understood to imply abortion.
In the meantime, ECWS members shared their message of life and love in many
ways as they attended the workshops and dialogued with many delegates from
around the world. The ECWS proclaimed its message through a booth exhibit which
displayed a large banner across the front that read, "For Freedom Christ Has Set
Us Free." The ECWS also conducted a Christian worship service in the "Healing
Tent." As the Word of God was read and preached, and glorious hymns were sang,
as many as 60 people filled the tent and hundreds more who were passing by or
standing around, witnessed and heard, as praises to the King of Kings filled the
World Pro-Life Congress
[The Third Congress on Pro-Life Movements was held in
Rome October 2-4. From 50 countries came 1,400 participants; around 200,
representing 40 organizations, were from the United States. Rev. John Brown,
President of NPRC, represented NPRC and United Friends for Life (United Church
of Christ) and Rev. Paul Stallsworth represented Lifewatch, United Methodists.]
Uniting Around the
Gospel of Life
By Pastor John Brown
The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul II's encyclical on the life issues,
clarifies as few works have done the way that concern for abortion, euthanasia,
and eugenics is rooted in the Gospel itself. The pope's use of Scripture is
extensive and masterful, making it perhaps the most scriptural of 20th century
encyclicals. It is also certainly one of the most commented upon of recent
times. For these reasons, the Pontifical Council on the Family chose the Gospel
of Life as the focal point of the Third Congress on the Pro-Life Movements held
in Rome October 2-4.
Delegates to the Congress met in language groups and in plenary sessions to
center on the Gospel of Life's meaning and implications for both the church and
the world of which we are a part. The discussions enabled participants to
present suggestions for how pro-life movements can work together more
effectively. On the last day, participants helped refine a document setting
forth the major concerns of the conference. According to the Pontifical Council
on the Family, the proceedings of the conference will eventually be released in
The high point for the participants in the Congress was an audience with the
Pope in the Vatican October 3. In his 20 minute address, John Paul declared
that, "The victory of truth and life is already part of the history of
salvation; it is the task of all the forces inspired by respect for human
dignity to engage in incorporating it into human history." He further stated
that, "the Gospel of life requires that the teaching about the inviolable value
of human life...become an integral part of evangelization." He also emphasized
the need for the pooling of resources and knowledge with regard to the problems
posed by medical science and population policies...and the need for a sound
ethical response to advances in genetics. The Pope, in addition, encouraged the
delegates to give serious attention to the moral and spiritual development of
The Congress made clear to us all that the proponents of the "culture of
death" are seeking to entrench their ideas and practices in the laws and
institutions of every society in the world. That the issues of abortion and
euthanasia, genetic engineering and eugenics, are increasingly global issues
means several things for the Christian Churches. First, the pro-life movement
worldwide must become ever more deeply rooted in the Gospel. Second, the
pro-life movements must increasingly become a unified pro-life movement, with a
common purpose, a generous sharing of resources, and a concerted effort to
communicate our concerns clearly and effectively, within the Church, and within
the larger society. As John Paul put it in his concluding remarks, "your
strength lies in the truth to which you witness, but the effectiveness of your
work largely depends on harmonious joint efforts."
While it is also the task of the NPRC to speak forth the truth of the
Gospel of Life, its primary task must be to promote harmonious joint efforts
among our member groups, and to reach out to yet other groups who we have reason
to believe are committed to the pro-life cause, in the hope that such unity
might greatly enhance our effectiveness in word and deed.
"All things work together for good to them that love the Lord," (Romans
8:28). I sometimes think that the grave problems of this bloody century are some
of the "things" the Lord is using to bring about the great "good" of Christian
Sharings From Rome
By Rev. Paul T. Stallsworth
Pope John Paul II, in his address to the World Pro-Life Congress delegates,
noted that "to proclaim, celebrate, and serve life is the Church's task in her
ordinary and constant pastoral activity." Certainly, that calling is ecumenical
in nature. That is, it belongs to all the churches, including the United
During the Congress, in its plenary and smaller sessions, countless crucial
points were made, illustrated, and underlined. Below, several outstanding ones
will be recalled.
- The defense of human life is the challenge now facing the twentieth century,
which is a most murderous century. The challenge of creating a Culture of Life
faces the churches, the cultures, and the nations of our time, all of which are
increasingly tempted by a Culture of Death.
- In all the churches and the societies of our time, courage is required to
bear witness to the Gospel of Life. Even in the Roman Catholic community, there
are more than a few bishops and priests who are somewhat timid about addressing
the Gospel of Life, over against the Culture of Death, among their people. The
challenge, as put by John Sematon of the Society for the Protection of Unborn
Children (SPUC/UK) is to speak and live, not betray, the truth.
- Rev. Ian Brown (SPUC) noted that the Gospel of Life signals a new ecumenism.
This new form of ecumenism moves beyond the old least common denominator
ecumenism…. Because the Gospel of Life is rooted in the Word of
God and is grounded in natural law, and because it has an evangelical appeal, a
pastoral tone, and a prophetic thrust, it is a treasured resource for this new
form of ecumenism.
- The Gospel of Life is an especially strange message in the
West, which now understands sex as having nothing to do with children and in
terms of getting, not giving. Italy's very low birth rate -- a "demographic
winter" according to Alfonso Cardinal Trujillo, president of the Pontifical
Council of the Family -- is a warning that the Gospel of Life will often find an
unfriendly reception in the West. Because this Gospel now appears to be so
peculiar, it is well to consider carefully various pre-evangelism and evangelism
In conclusion, the Gospel of Life has located pro-life witness and
work in the Gospel. To the Lifewatch community and others, this is nothing new.
Even so, John Paul II's description of pro-life theory and practice in the
Gospel is offered--with unmatched theological beauty, elegance and power--to
all. According to this encyclical, pro-life witness and work are not, first and
last, partisan political matters; instead, they are, first and last, Gospel
matters that have strong political implications....Being pro-life has to do
with being for the Gospel, which is the Gospel of Life...And to believe and obey
the Gospel of Life is to be involved in pro-life activity.
Her Conscience and Her God
A familiar rationalization of abortion is that it is "her choice," a decision
made in consultation with her doctor, her family, her conscience and her God.
What is the flaw in this argument? Can a Christian denomination say that the
legal right to an abortion is necessary to allow a woman to exercise her
conscience in the matter? Or is induced abortion a violation of the woman's
This question is carefully explored in its several aspects in a new study by
Thomas Strahan in the Association for Interdisciplinary Research in Values and
Social Change Newsletter of Sept./Oct. 1995: Induced Abortion as a Violation of
Conscience of the Woman. Strahan explores the actual situation of women who are
in crisis, often isolated, pressured or given counsel contrary to their ideals
when they are contemplating abortion. They frequently experience personal guilt
and depression following the abortion. He points out also that, "although
religious beliefs are absolute, acts or practices motivated by religious
beliefs, if they kill or injure another, are subject to regulation by the
A copy of this documented research report may be obtained from National Right
to Life Committee by calling (202) 626-8800, ext. 112 or 129.
LCMS Convention Reaffirms Sanctity of Human Life
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod enthusiastically continued its support
of the pro-life education efforts in its church through a resolution passed at
the July LCMS convention. The resolution asks LCMS districts, congregations,
pastors, teachers, and lay leaders "to affirm the Synod's pro-life stand" and to
"exercise their responsibility as Christian citizens to influence legislation
for the protection of all human life. LCMS supports several internal
organizations devoted to defending the sanctity of life and educating the church
and society on life issues.
In another resolution, the Synod stated its opposition to any form of
physician-assisted suicide, expressing objection to "medical personnel having
any part in actively inducing death, even at the patient's request or the
request of the family." The resolution further urged that the Synod "speak out
against any attempt to legalize physician-assisted suicide and encourage its
pastors and people to do the same."
Dr. Jean Garton was elected to the LCMS Board of Directors and honored for
her many years of volunteer service. She is also president of Lutherans for
Life, of which LCMS is a member.
Lutherans for Life held their 13th national
convention November 3-5, 1995 in Chicago. Family Research Council's Robert
Morrison was keynote speaker. A full track of programs for youth included
presentations by Molly Kelly, leader in chastity education, and Mike Singletary,
Chicago Bears linebacker.
LFL's national board has been working toward carrying out new goals adopted
in June, such as the nationalization of LFL's post-abortion outreach, Healing
Hearts, based in Chicago, as well as other projects.
Rev. Edward Fehskens, Lutherans for Life executive director for the last ten
years, has been working closely with the board on achieving its goals. Rev.
Fehskens is now returning to full time pastoral ministry, and leaving LFL in
order to be pastor of service at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne,
NPRC Sponsors Prayer
Vigil Jan. 21
The National Pro-Life Religious Council is sponsoring a prayer service the
night before the `96 March for Life, Sunday Jan. 21, at the Fourth Presbyterian
Church in Bethesda, Md., according to Rev. Ben Sheldon, NPRC executive director.
It will begin at 7 p.m., in conjunction with Fourth Presbyterian's regular
Sunday evening service. Dr. Robert Norris will be the preacher.
All are encouraged to attend this service in support of the March for Life.
It is a great opportunity for Christians of all denominations to join together
in prayer as a sign of unity on pro-life issues. The address is: Fourth
Presbyterian Church, 5500 River Road, Bethesda, Md. 20816, (301) 320-3600.
In addition, there will be a morning prayer service at the Simpson Memorial
Chapel of the Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Ave. (next to the Supreme Court),
at 9:30 a.m., Monday, January 22. This is sponsored jointly by NPRC and the Task
Force of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality (TUMAS).
Sanctity of Life
Those who would like materials to distribute on Sanctity
of Life Sunday, January 21, may obtain some from either the Southern Baptist
Convention or Lutherans for Life. Brochures, bulletin inserts, posters, Sunday
school lesson, and suggested sermons are among the resources available:
To order, write or call:
Christian Life Commission
901 Commerce Street, Suite 550
Nashville, TN 37203-3696
Lutherans for Life
P.O. Box 189
Benton, AR 72018
(501) 794-2212, Fax: (501) 794-1437
NPRC Seeks New Members
This is your opportunity to join with other Christian
pro-life leaders to help restore legal protection to the unborn child. The
National Pro-Life Religious Council, Inc. (NPRC) is a Christian pro-life
coalition which acknowledges Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and is called to
witness to and affirm the biblical standard of the value, dignity and sanctity
of human life. Associate membership is open to any individual, church or group
who subscribes to NPRC's principles.
NPRC currently has members working within pro-life groups associated with the
following denominations/churches: American Baptist, Catholic, Episcopalian,
Evangelical, Lutheran, Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, Orthodox, Presbyterian,
Southern Baptist, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist.
Please join NPRC today and help us end the tragedy of abortion!
NPRC Home Page