3/03/2009

Are you going to send a Red Envelope? Read this first.

Have you received this email or been recruited on Facebook to join this cause?
___

Dear Friends and Intercessors:
_This afternoon I was praying about a number of things, and my mind began to wander. I was deeply distressed at the symbolic actions that President Obama took as he began his presidency. Namely, that he signed executive orders releasing funds to pay for abortions, permission to fund human stem cell research, and federal funding for contraception. I have been involved in the pro-life movement for nearly 20 years, and it pained my heart to see a man and a political party committed to the shedding of innocent blood. This man, and this party lead our country, but they do not represent me or the 54% of Americans who believe that abortion is wrong and should no longer be legal.
_As I was praying, I believe that God gave me an interesting idea. Out in the garage I have a box of red envelopes. Like the powerful image of the red LIFE tape, an empty red envelope will send a message to Barack Obama that there is moral outrage in this country over this issue. It will be quiet, but clear.
_Here is what I would like you to do:
_Get a red envelope. You can buy them at Kinkos, or at party supply stores. On the front, address it to:
___President Barack Obama
___The White House
___1600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
___Washington , D.C. 20500
_On the back, write the following message:
_This envelope represents one child who died in abortion. It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world. Responsibility begins with conception.
_Put it in the mail on March 31st, and send it. Then send this website to every one of your friends who you think would send one too. I wish we could send 50 million red envelopes, one for every child who died before having a a chance to live. Maybe it will change the heart of the president.
_Warmly, Christ Otto
_Let's Send 50 Million red envelopes (and Counting) to the President!
___

I sure wish that Christian campaigns like this didn’t say that our president and the Democratic Party are “committed to the shedding of innocent blood.”

As I've said before, I definitely believe that the center of the “Pro-Life” issue is a strong opposition to abortion. However, a consistent “Pro-Life” policy also includes such issues as war, poverty, hunger, disease, an unjust legal system, and the environment. All these issues are a part of a holistic and consistent “Pro-Life” agenda. Therefore, many Christians who see “Life” issues beyond the core issue of abortion law (i.e., Roe v. Wade) voted for Barack Obama, believing that these many issues also weigh heavily in this issue. For these Christians, of which I am one, President Barack Obama not only is the leader of our country, he also “represents me.”

At the same time, it deeply troubles us that President Obama is a proponent of abortion-on-demand. We understand that he wants to honor a woman’s right to choose, because women have had their rights terribly trampled on for so very long. But we insist that women’s rights do not trump the unborns’ right to life. This is a difficult issue, but Christians, at our best, are a people who stand up for the needs of the oppressed and for those who do not have the ability to speak for themselves. We are to act for justice as we walk humbly with our God. The unborn are the most oppressed people in our society – their very lives are in danger due to an extremely unjust law in our land.

Therefore, I signed the petition sent to the president on the day he was inaugurated to urge him not to sign the “Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA)”. Find the petition at fightfoca.com.

So far, I feel that President Obama has been very careful in his actions in regard to the pro-life/pro-choice issue. He did not take any vocal or symbolic action on the 30th Anniversary date of Roe v. Wade (Jan 22) – even though he had a lot of pressure from pro-choice advocates to do so. Instead, his executive orders (which were not unexpected, especially his reversal of the Mexico City Policy) were done very quietly and away from the anniversary date so as to not make huge symbolic statements. Obama has sought to use rhetoric that does not inflame or contribute to the heat of the debate.

He certainly is pro-choice – he has made that clear. But he is a different kind of pro-choice president, one that can be reasoned with -- one that, I believe, we can make headway with. I hope that the Red Envelope campaign does not inflame the debate. I believe that Christians must realize that abortion is an economic issue. President Obama recognizes abortion for what it is: a tragic moral choice often confronted by a woman in adverse economic and social circumstances (struggling as a single mother, without a steady income, without good employment prospects, without health-care guarantees, and a stigmatic and cumbersome adoption procedure). While President Obama can be properly labeled “pro-choice, he has proposed to reduce the incidence of abortion by helping pregnant women overcome the ill effects of poverty that block a choice of life.

It’s not perfect, granted. Would I rather have a staunch pro-life president? Certainly! But what does that mean? Politicians can claim to be “pro-life” by saying they oppose Roe v. Wade, but many of their policies actually are more harmful to life than a politician that does not make that superficial claim. Much of the Republican talk about being “pro-life” has been very empty rhetoric. They have had the White House and the Congress for years, but we saw very little movement on the issue – only at election time do we hear about it. They have never offered a realistic plan to lower abortion rates. More and more evangelicals are walking away from the Republicans – perhaps they will stop giving lip-service to this important issue and quit thinking they have our vote in their pockets just because they say they are “pro-life.”

What we need is for Republicans and Democrats to work together in order to make progress with legislation that is realistic. The Democrats have proposed comprehensive legislation called the 95/10 Initiative that aims to reduce the number of abortions that take place in this country by 95% within 10 years. Now get this: Barack Obama actually supports this and similar legislation!

While Red Envelopes are being mailed and people are saying things like, “Barack Obama doesn’t represent me!” there are Democrats offering a realistic plan that can move us around the difficult cultural impasse that has bogged us down for far too long.

While I am not necessarily opposed to the Red Envelope campaign, I wonder if the rhetoric of "Christ Otto" (if that's a real person) is more derogatory and inflammatory than it needs to be.

What do you think?

12 comments:

Byron Harvey said...

Please defend this statement:

He certainly is pro-choice – he has made that clear. But he is a different kind of pro-choice president, one that can be reasoned with -- one that, I believe, we can make headway with.

Bob Robinson said...

All one needs to do is listen to Obama's own words. At the Presidential Forum that Rick Warren hosted, Warren asked Obama point-blank about abortion and this is what Obama said:

OBAMA: "One thing that I’m absolutely convinced of is that there is a moral and ethical element to this issue. And so I think anybody who tries to deny the moral difficulties and gravity of the abortion issue, I think, is not paying attention. So that would be point number one.

But point number two, I am pro-choice. I believe in Roe v. Wade, and I come to that conclusion not because I’m pro-abortion, but because, ultimately, I don’t think women make these decisions casually. I think they — they wrestle with these things in profound ways, in consultation with their pastors or their spouses or their doctors or their family members. And so, for me, the goal right now should be, and this is where I think we can find common ground — And by the way, I’ve now inserted this into the Democratic party platform — is how do we reduce the number of abortions? The fact is that although we have had a president who is opposed to abortion over the last eight years, abortions have not gone down and that is something we have to address."

WARREN: Have you ever voted to limit or reduce abortions?

OBAMA: I am in favor, for example, of limits on late-term abortions, if there is an exception for the mother’s health. From the perspective of those who are pro-life, I think they would consider that inadequate, and I respect their views. One of the things that I’ve always said is that on this particular issue, if you believe that life begins at conception, then — and you are consistent in that belief — then I can’t argue with you on that, because that is a core issue of faith for you.

What I can do is say, are there ways that we can work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, so that we actually are reducing the sense that women are seeking out abortions. And as an example of that, one of the things that I’ve talked about is how do we provide the resources that allow women to make the choice to keep a child. You know, have we given them the health care that they need? Have we given them the support services that they need? Have we given them the options of adoption that are necessary? That can make a genuine difference.

Byron Harvey said...

So, you mean "reasoned with" in the sense that you believe he'll actually DO what Bill Clinton SAID was important (and then did nothing about): making abortion (if I remember correctly), "safe, legal, and rare." OK, that's fine; perhaps you're right.

Of course, he's breaking campaign promises left and right already, so I don't hold out a lot of hope, but sure, if we can reduce abortions, and he's willing to try to deliver on that, more power to him.

Byron Harvey said...

This is off-topic, but what I'm dying to hear--in a separate post would be appropriate--is your viewpoint on his economic policies at this point. As you and I agree, "budgets are moral documents", as would be, of course, anything spending-wise that a government would choose to undertake. Are these "bailouts" and "stimulus plans" moral, or not?

Bob Robinson said...

Byron,
An underlying point about this and other political issues is this:
Certainly we need to critique and debate policy. That is the American way. However, vitriolic language needs to be replaced with civil discourse. We can disagree with elected officials, and sometimes (as with abortion) we can disagree passionately. However, language used like that in this campaign hinders our efforts more than it helps: "It pained my heart to see a man and a political party committed to the shedding of innocent blood. This man, and this party lead our country, but they do not represent me."
That kind of rhetoric just stirs up resentment and does not move the issue forward.
Obama's rhetoric is actually the correct way to go: Say what your position is and don't mince words on that (he doesn't back away from saying he is "pro-choice"), but then seek common ground with those who have the opposing view.

Byron Harvey said...

On that point, we can generally agree.

Bargain Hunter said...

What concerns me greatly is that after years of unwavering support for George W. Bush, regardless of the issue, the Republicans now seems to be making every effort to stand in the way of Barrack Obama instead of trying to work together to get the country out of the deep ditch we're in. Democrats were more supportive of Bush than Republicans have been.

One thing is certain, we must find a way to come together if there's any hope of things getting better. Otherwise the life children come into is going to be a much more difficult one.

In the vein of working together to improve the world, I'd like to share something I do that I'm hoping you'll help spread the word about.

Every day I download coupons for breakfast, lunch and dinner from iShopSummit.com and when I redeem a buy one/get one free coupon I give the free meal to someone I don't know.

It's an easy way to help someone without costing me a penny and it shows companies paying for the coupons that their investment is paying off. This is a win-win-win situation.

Byron Harvey said...

Thanks for the tip, Bargain Hunter!

Now, to your first comment, we must be living in a different universe. I can't name many Republicans who supported GWB with anything approaching "unwavering support". This man was not by any meaningful definition a "conservative", and conservatism is supposed to define the Republican party. GWB is the reason I dropped my Republican affiliation 6 years ago, and with exceptions on some issues, most conservatives tolerated Bush rather than "unwaveringly supporting" him. His second term was horrible, and his last few months were fiscally immoral.

What's interesting, though, is that Obama, the "change candidate", is promoting more of the same (destined to fail) Bush agenda. It's pathetic. I won't support socialism no matter which party offers it up for us.

Which is why I now call myself a libertarian...

Dennis Wadsworth said...

Been quite a long time...:)

And kudos on a provocative and interesting post. It seems we would agree and give BHO the BTOD but I'm wondering...

If FOCA does become legislation, since you signed the petition will you still support the policy this adminstration takes on "life issues?"...

and two, how long or how many policy decisions will you be willing to tolerate...I have in mind here the current buzz on the stem cell repeal. I do appreciate that ethical matters are not mutually exclusive...

Bob Robinson said...

Dennis,
Thanks for commenting. I appreciate your input!!
Let me be clear: I am not advocating some form of vanilla "toleration" on policy issues. I am advocating that Christians should learn how to be civil in the way we enter the policy debates. The tenor of the Red Envelope Campaign betrays a kind of holier-than-thou, "we are totally righteous and you are totally evil" kind of attitude that does not do us any good in policy discourse.
I think we all need to hear what Os Guinness's is saying in his new book, The Case for Civility.

Christ John Otto said...

Hi, I'm a real person, and I think you need to cool your jets.

Check out my blog: Belonginghouse.org/wordpress

Context is everything.

Bob Robinson said...

Christ John Otto,

Thanks for visiting.
You said, "Hi, I'm a real person, and I think you need to cool your jets."
That's made me laugh out loud.
Thanks for clearing up that you actually exist!! With a name like you've got, I wasn't sure.

And I love how you turn the cool your jets thing back onto me. That's the point, right? When we want our political leaders to hear us, we need to "cool our jets" or else they will dismiss us because of our uncivil rhetoric.

We certainly need to be intentionally involved in the political process, but we must do it with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15).