Rolley Haggard

Louder than the ‘Silent Scream’: the deafening silence of our pulpits

Rolley Haggard
By Rolley Haggard
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This is a sequel to a widely publicized article I wrote in March outlining a simple, if audacious, “One-Minute Strategy” for bringing about the end of legalized abortion in America virtually overnight:

If every Sunday, in every pulpit, in every church across America, ministers would devote one minute—ONE MINUTE—to decrying the evil of abortion on demand, such universal solidarity within the ranks of Christian leadership would accomplish two things, maybe three.

First, it would dispel ambiguity and send a clear signal to every pew-sitting believer that this is a top-line priority with God, not a fine-print codicil, not “one more good thing that Christians ought to do when they have time.”

Second, it would foster unanimity amongst all believers—at least on this one all-important issue—and enable us together to render unto God what is God’s (i.e., sufficient advocacy at the ballot box to get Roe overturned) while at the same time rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s—which, don’t forget, includes the advice and consent of the governed.

And third, maybe, just maybe the voice of conscience would become less easily ignored by those outside the church and we would see abortion on demand outlawed, not only in America, but around the world—“overnight.”

In the months since publication, the thing that has stunned me is not the article’s near-universal, vigorously enthusiastic embrace by thousands within the pro-life community. What has stunned me is the thunderous silence from evangelical pastors. I’ve gotten loads of feedback from lay evangelicals and Catholics—clergy and laypersons alike—but almost nothing from evangelical ministers. It has left me wondering, “Do they agree? Do they disagree? Does this register even the slightest flutter on their moral seismograph?”

So this time I’m explicitly soliciting feedback. Help me understand. You who pastor an evangelical church, what do you think of this “One-Minute Strategy” to end abortion? It seems to me that to say nothing about it is to say everything.

I, along with many thousands who have signified their agreement, really believe this strategy will work if you will but implement it. It requires so agonizingly little to make it happen, really only two things—publicity, and the willingness of church leaders to implement—that it seems irresponsible not to press the issue.

I realize habits, good and bad, die hard. So I am willing to beat the drum until the rhythm is learned. I just hope it won’t be long. Too much is at stake.

As I said, this time I’m making a straightforward appeal to every American pulpit. I’m asking you, pastor friend, to put this strategy into practice, at once. It involves a single minute each Sunday. Will you do it?

If not, why not?

That’s not a rhetorical question. I seriously want to know, you who have a pulpit and are Christ’s ambassador—why would you not do it?

Do you not agree that it is at least a little incongruous to preach the love of God—a God who so hated evil that to oppose it He let His own Son be tortured and murdered—and yet not give one solitary minute each week to decrying an unspeakable evil that for 40 years has been tacitly sanctioned, approved, endorsed, and even effectively celebrated and cheered on by our collective silence?

Does not such behavior seem to you inherently contradictory and disingenuous? Does it not appear to pluck up by the roots the very thing it sows? For on the one hand it speaks of God’s love for people, and on the other it speaks of the unimportance of those same people whom we declare God loves.

Actions, they say, speak louder than words. But here, in this thing, we are letting silence speak louder still. For our silence, in extraordinarily large measure, is the very thing keeping myriads from hearing and thinking about and doing something about the “silent scream” of 4,000 little people being aborted in America every day.

Only a few generations ago, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in the midst of comparable horror and equally inexplicable passivity on the part of Christians, rightly observed that “silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Friends, either Bonhoeffer was gravely mistaken or there is something horribly wrong here—something we can change immediately and universally, if we want to.

I implore each of you to whom God has entrusted the mantle of leadership to lead! You have been given the trumpet to rally us all to awareness and action, but “if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Cor 14:8)

Christ’s brother, James, wrote “if you see someone destitute . . . and . . . notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body, what does it profit?” (James 2:16) He said that faith without such works of compassion for the needy is dead. As dead as the 54 million babies we, my fellows, have silently abandoned to their own virtual Auschwitz.

So will you do this? Rather than committing the moral equivalent of bidding them “be warmed and filled,” minister friend, will you give these destitute innocents 60 seconds of your time every Sunday until this evil is universally abhorred by all who call themselves “Christian”? You can if you want to. The power is in your hands, in your voice.

Not to act is to act.

I feel I must say one more thing, and God forgive me if I go beyond what is proper. It is to ask you, if you will not implement this “One-Minute Strategy” (or something similar), then will you give me an advance version of your defense for not doing so? I say “an advance version” because I believe the day is coming when you will be compelled, not asked, to give a full account.

Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps in the final analysis this strategy will accomplish nothing. Frankly, I don’t believe that for a moment. But even if—even if—little or nothing changes, fellow-servant of Christ, let it be in spite of what we did, not because of what we did not do!

Rolley Haggard is a self-described “elder brother screaming on behalf of his siblings.” Reprinted with permission from Breakpoint.org

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Louisiana judge orders state to recognize gay ‘marriage’

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By Kirsten Anderson

A Louisiana judge on Monday ordered state officials to recognize the out-of-state “marriage” of a lesbian couple and allow one of the women to legally adopt her partner’s child.

Angie Costanza and Christy Brewer were “married” in 2008 in California, but Louisiana’s marriage protection amendment, passed by 78 percent of voters in 2004, prevented the state from recognizing the couple’s union.  The pair sued in 2013 to overturn the law, in part because Costanza wanted to be listed as a parent on Brewer’s son’s birth certificate. 

Initially, Judge Edward Broussard dismissed the case without a hearing, but the couple appealed.  On Monday, Judge Edward Rubin took their side, ruling that Louisiana’s marriage protection law is unconstitutional in three ways:  According to Rubin, the ban on same-sex “marriage” violates the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution, as well as the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th amendment.

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Rubin’s decision comes just weeks after U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman declared Louisiana’s marriage protection law constitutional – the first federal judge to decide in favor of a same-sex “marriage” ban since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down key portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last year. “There is simply no fundamental right, historically or traditionally, to same-sex marriage,” Feldman wrote in his decision. 

However, because this case is being tried in the state courts, Rubin’s decision will take precedence over Feldman’s, pending appeal.

The state plans to appeal Rubin’s ruling to the state Supreme Court.  Meanwhile, the federal case is also moving forward.  Ultimately, it is expected that the question of whether statewide bans on same-sex “marriage” are constitutional will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court sometime in 2015. 

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New archbishops in Chicago and Madrid: Ratzingerians out, ‘inclusiveness’ in

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By Hilary White
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Chicago's Archbishop-elect, Blase Cupich

Pope Francis announced Saturday that he is appointing as archbishop of Chicago a prelate best known in pro-life circles as the man who ordered his priests in 2011 not to participate in local 40 Days for Life prayer vigils. The media and Church watchers describe him as “progressive,” “inclusive,” and “left-of-center.”

The appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich, current head of the Spokane diocese in Washington, to America’s third most prominent see – an appointment which Vatican watchers predicted would signal the pope’s priorities for the direction of the U.S. Church – has been widely praised by liberal Catholics and opponents of Church teaching but met with concern by many Catholic activists.

The archbishop-elect gave a sense of his approach to the U.S. “culture war” in an interview Sunday with Chicago’s CBS affiliate, in which he suggested he would be open to giving Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians and a person wearing a button in favour of same-sex “marriage.”

“As long as they’re in church, are willing to hear the word of God, be open to Christ’s call of conversion for each one of us, then I think that that’s sufficient for me,” he said. “We cannot politicize the Communion rail and I just don’t think that that works in the long run.”

Cupich will replace the ailing Cardinal Francis George, known in the US as a “Ratzingerian” for his strong defense of Catholic orthodoxy, particularly on issues of sexual morality, but who is suffering from cancer and is overdue for retirement at age 77. The archbishop of Chicago is also normally granted the “red hat” and made a cardinal, which would make Cupich eligible to vote in upcoming papal conclaves. Cupich is scheduled to be installed in Chicago November 18.

The Chicago appointment mirrors that of another outside the US in recent weeks. Rome announced August 28 that Carlos Osoro Sierra, 69, will be installed as the new archbishop of Madrid, Spain’s capital city and largest archdiocese. But the story in Madrid has less to do with the new appointee and more to do with the would-be appointee who was demoted.

Until just before the appointment, most Vatican watchers expected the prominent post to be given to 68-year-old Vatican Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, dubbed the “little Ratzinger” for his orthodoxy in line with Pope Benedict XVI.  When LifeSiteNews interviewed Cardinal Cañizares in 2009 at the time of his appointment as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, he noted that denying communion to pro-abortion politicians was a charitable act.

Leaving his Vatican post, he was considered a natural for the Madrid spot. But instead it went to the archbishop of Valencia, and Cañizares is to fill that vacancy instead.

The former archbishop of Valencia is known for his strong “liberal” leanings and he will be replacing Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, 78, who, like Cañizares, is also known for following the lead of the retired Pope Benedict XVI.

El Pais wrote of the new appointee that Catholics of the Madrid archdiocese, accustomed to the “hieratic” Varela, will be seeing “an entirely different model.”

“Shortly after the announcement of his appointment, the most repeated words to define his figure were ‘dialogue’ and ‘moderation.’”

“During the 12 years he has been the head of the Catholic Church [in Madrid], Rouco Varela has too often mixed faith and politics, with an overdose of intransigence. Defending the (exclusively traditional) family and attacking laws that recognize the right of women to abortion are the main workhorses.”

Catholic News Agency’s Vatican-watcher, Andrea Gagliarducci, wrote that the appointment marks a “new course for Spain’s bishops.” He is described in the Spanish press as “affable,” “friendly,” and “extremely gregarious.” 

As for Cupich, David Gibson of Religion News Service described him as “a prelate closely identified with the Catholic Church’s progressive wing.”

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Vatican watcher Rocco Palmo, author of the “Whispers in the Loggia” blog, wrote that the appointment is “the most shocking major move the American hierarchy has seen in the last decade and a half.” Another Vatican veteran, John Allen Jr., wrote for the US Catholic online magazine Crux that Cupich so closely mirrors Pope Francis’ theology and style that he could be called the “American Pope Francis in Chicago.”

On his blog, Bishop Robert Lynch of St. Petersburg, Florida, known for his icy relations with the pro-life movement, shared his excitement over the “new breeze” brought by Cupich’s appointment. The bishop noted that Cupich “admires deeply the ecclesiology and vision” of leftist prelates such as former San Francisco Archbishop John Quinn and former Galveston-Houston Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza.

The news of Cupich’s appointment was met with praise in the mainstream press. According to The New York Times Francis has “set the tone” for US appointments by “replacing a combative conservative with a prelate whose pastoral approach to upholding church doctrine is more in keeping with the pope’s inclusive tone.”

It has also been praised by dissident Catholic groups such as the homosexual activist group New Ways Ministries. Last year, the group issued a roundup of evaluations of the various leading members of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops who were set to elect a new president. New Ways praised Cupich for his intervention in the 2012 debate leading up to a referendum on “gay marriage” in Washington State. Cupich’s only intervention was a pastoral letter in which he asked voters to uphold traditional marriage, but also called for a “more civil and honest conversation about Catholic positions on equality.”

“I also want to be very clear that in stating our position, the Catholic Church has no tolerance for the misuse of this moment to incite hostility toward homosexual persons or promote an agenda that is hateful and disrespectful of their human dignity,” Cupich wrote.

Cupich stood out from his fellow US bishops in his response to the abortion-funding Obamacare. Though he joined his other bishops in condemning the Obama administration’s mandate that Catholic employers cover abortifacients and contraceptives, he encouraged Catholic Charities in his diocese to act as an Obamacare navigator and help people sign up for coverage that could fund the destruction of unborn life.

He also condemned the line of other US bishops when they threatened to shut down Catholic social services. “These kind of scare tactics and worse-case scenario predictions are uncalled for,” Cupich wrote in a letter to diocesan employees. “I am confident we can find a way to move forward.”

Today the anti-Catholic organization Call to Action issued a press release saying they are “relieved” at the appointment. “At a time when numerous U.S. Bishops are choosing to fight ideological battles, Pope Francis’ selection of Cupich demonstrates a desire for a humbler, more pastoral church.”  

Call to Action, like New Ways Ministries, works to overturn Catholic doctrine, particularly on sexual matters, from within the Church, and has received the censure of the US bishops for their activities. They wrote, “The choice of Cupich shows promise for a church which can be closer to the people. Catholics in Chicago and beyond yearn for a faith rooted in the Gospel call of love and justice over rigid orthodoxy.”

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Rick Perry: Joan Rivers’ death shows Texas is right to require abortionists to have admitting privileges

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By Kirsten Anderson

In the wake of the high-profile death of comedienne Joan Rivers due to complications from throat surgery at an outpatient clinic in New York City, Texas Gov. Rick Perry pointed to the tragedy as an example showing the necessity for his state’s one-year-old law requiring abortion clinics to meet the same standards as other ambulatory surgical centers.

"It was interesting that when Joan Rivers -- and the procedure that she had done, where she died -- that was a clinic,” Perry said at a Texas Tribune event on Sunday. “It's a curious thought that if they had had that type of regulations in place, whether or not that individual would be still alive.”

Many observers have criticized the governor’s remarks, noting that Rivers’ surgery was performed in a fully licensed ambulatory surgical center by a doctor with admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, as is the current standard for abortion facilities in Texas, but died anyway.  However, the painstaking investigation into what may have gone wrong at the New York City clinic reveals that while all surgery carries risks, ambulatory surgical centers are required to take every precaution to ensure the safety of their patients, in contrast to more loosely regulated abortion clinics, where injuries and deaths are rampant, and often covered up.

While 32 separate medical associations have signed a joint agreement stating that anyone “performing office-based surgery must have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, a transfer agreement with another physician who has admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, or maintain an emergency transfer agreement with a nearby hospital,” abortion businesses have fought such regulations tooth and nail, arguing that requiring abortionists to maintain admitting privileges is too burdensome and will cause clinics to close their doors.  

Abortionists have also opposed tougher safety restrictions forcing them to adhere to the same standards as other ambulatory surgical centers, arguing that upgrading their substandard facilities to meet hospital-grade requirements is costly and unnecessary.  But proponents of such regulations point out that the tiny parking lots, narrow hallways, and lack of elevators common to most abortion facilities are serious impediments to getting lifesaving help to women in case of emergencies, delaying paramedics who can’t park their ambulances or maneuver gurneys through such buildings.  In addition, licensed ambulatory surgical centers must have and properly maintain state-of-the-art resuscitation equipment, and train employees in their use – something abortion clinics have repeatedly been cited for failing to do.

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