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A Bold Call to Make, But It’s Time!
Rev. Harry Knox | RCRC President/CEO
I thank all my colleagues who have issued such a convincing case, indeed a call to action this morning. With the House passing draconian restrictions on abortion access yesterday, and the President choosing to say nothing about it last night, today faith leaders will begin to speak out. We will make the prophetic call for reproductive justice until it becomes politically safe for the President to do so.
Friends, we have heard your call to protect real religious liberty by helping a new generation understand what it means. We have heard your call not to leave you or your patients without spiritual guidance on vital issues of sexuality and reproductive health. We have heard your call to give people of good will in America, those who are people of faith, and those who are secular, the tools they need to reframe the national conversation about women’s bodies and health away from shame and toward compassion, away from judgment and toward understanding.
Excuse me a moment while I hit send on this tweet:
“God loves women who have abortions, just as God loves women who choose not to have abortions, and is with them at times of decision.”
With this launch of our new It’s Time Campaign, we hope that that statement of love won’t someday be as provocative as it is now. It’s incredibly rare that the words “God” and “abortion” are used in a sentence together when it’s not being used to condemn or intimidate. That will begin to change today.
For too long, the public debate on the issues of religion, abortion, sexuality and justice have been dominated by strident voices who want a monopoly on religion. It’s time to tell the truth: that most people of faith in this country, like a majority of Americans overall, want families and individuals to have access to contraception, sexuality education, and reproductive healthcare including abortion.
We’re out to change the conversation, not in spite of our various religious traditions, but because of them.
RCRC is already working across a wide variety of faith traditions to help religious leaders, people of faith, and supporters of reproductive health and rights speak up in communities and congregations across the country. The It’s Time Campaign represents a deeper commitment to shifting the national conversation about religion and abortion by giving people the tools necessary to change the conversations in their lives – whether from pulpit to pew or at the all-important dinner table, where most theology and politics actually happen.
We know that to untangle countless years of shame and condemnation is going to take real commitment, so the first step to get started is pledging to change the conversation. It means speaking up and taking action when religion is used as a tool of judgment rather than a positive force for compassion, health and healing. It means changing the perception of religion by sharing the truth, such as the truth that the majority of people of faith support access to the tools to live better reproductive lives. And it means modeling a different kind of conversation, and creating space for a more honest, thoughtful and mutually respectful dialogue about religion, abortion, sexuality and justice.
On our website, you’ll find tips on having conversations that promote long-lasting change. There is also a tool that helps a woman tell her own abortion story – anonymously or by name – through the 1 in 3 Campaign, of which RCRC is a partner with Advocates for Youth.
Religious leaders and people of faith have a moral duty to ensure that women can find support and compassion within their faith communities – not silence, judgment, or shame. We know that one of the most powerful places to give that support is from the pulpit, so we’ll soon release a sermon guide that will give clergy and religious leaders the tools they need to be a clear voice for reproductive justice.
Over the next year, we will be generating and encouraging authentic conversations across the country about how to begin to undo the harm that religion has done to our reproductive lives. In March we will provide a peaceful presence witness at the Supreme Court as it hears the Hobby Lobby case. We’ll be in Texas in April helping to nurture a new statewide clergy network committed to reproductive justice. We’ll be in Tennessee in May to teach people how to lead faithfully at the epicenter of a ballot initiative fight. And because we know that people’s lives are shaped by the policies and elected officials at every level of government, we’ll be in places like Wisconsin, Mississippi, South Carolina, Ohio and Colorado to work to protect their voices – in the public discourse and at the voting booth – so that marginalized communities have the ability to shape their own destinies.
For us, the call to reproductive justice is a moral one, grounded in centuries of spiritual teachings and sacred texts. For over 40 years, RCRC has worked to ensure that the decisions that a woman makes about her reproductive life is made by the person best suited to make them: the woman herself. This campaign is a continuation of that work, and a call for deeper and more concerted action.
It’s a bold call to make, but it’s time. It’s time.