Kathleen Cochran is a writer & former newspaper reporter/editor who traveled the world as a soldier's better half. Her works are on Amazon.
The Ruins of a Church in Aberdeen, Scotland
I have an 83-year-old neighbor
I have an 83-year-old neighbor who is a devout Christian. I can't put into words how much I admire how she lives her faith day in and day out. She is at church whenever the doors are open. She teaches Sunday School, is a decision counselor, tithes, takes every Bible study offered, she works in Vacation Bible School, is active in the widow's group, sings in the senior choir, visits the sick, takes food to the bereaved, even travels to foreign countries on mission trips from Central America to China. But when it comes to politics, she is like so many other Christians - lazy.
Nothing else matters
I say this because when someone runs for office, from dog catcher to the president of the United States, too many Christians only want to know one thing. Are they anti-abortion? They dismiss any other evidence of Christ-like behaviour. Matthew 7:16 says you will know them by their fruit. That verse doesn't apply to many voting believers because the only fruit they look for is a position on this one issue.
It doesn't matter if candidates have honored their wedding vows. It doesn't matter if they have been convicted of ethical violations. It doesn't matter if they support our military. It doesn't matter if they have made a fortune taking advantage of any and/or everyone who has crossed their paths. It doesn't matter if they talk in ways that they would have washed their children's mouths out with soap. Doesn't matter. Nothing matters but abortion.
Christianity is not that easy. Jesus asks more from us than that.
Jesus taught so much more
What about what Jesus said about feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and dying, sharing your cloak with someone who doesn't have one, providing for the widow and the orphan, not cheating your neighbor? What about not bearing false witness, not coveting what someone else has, rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, not dragging a fellow Christian into court? How much would the need for abortion be reduced if we elected officials who cared about issues like these? My point is this: you can't make a decision as important as putting a person into government to represent you on the basis of only one issue. Well, yes you can. But you are being lazy.
It's not that easy. Too many well-intentioned people are making it that easy though, because it takes a good bit of time and energy to get to know the candidates and learn their stand on the issues. You can't just read their Web site, because candidates often just publish what people want to hear. You need to watch interviews, research their voting history or public comments, read a variety of newspapers and magazines, watch a variety of news broadcasts on a variety of networks, read the books they have published, and on and on to get an in-depth knowledge of what the candidate truly believes in order to make an intelligent choice that will result in what they are most likely to do if you entrust them with an office.
That's a lot of effort to make when it is so much easier to just judge them on one issue.
Are abortions rampant in America?
How big a percentage of women in America get abortions?
Is that number increasing or declining?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when abortion in America was legalized in 1973 the abortion rate was 14 per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 44. The number of abortions peaked in 1990 with a rate of 24 per 1,000. From that high, the CDC reported the numbers declined through 2002 and then stabilized. In 2012 the abortion rate was 13.2 abortions per 1,000. Lower than when abortion was illegal. Additionally, in 1965 deaths due to complications from illegal abortions was reported at 200 women. The latest statistic for such deaths per year? 13.
"Given the large decreases in the total number, rate, and ratio of reported abortions from 2011 to 2012, in combination with decreases that occurred during 2008–2011, all three measures reached historic lows." -CDC
Realizing that this is a question of fundamental beliefs in many religions, irregardless of statistics as to how many people are actually affected, you still have to question if it should outweigh all other requirements of the Christian life when choosing our politicians. In 40 years how often has the influence of someone in office made any difference? Roe v Wade is still the law of the land. But how an official thinks on taxes, the debt, defense spending, going to war, social security, healthcare, immigration, education - do we take all that into account when judging their Christianity? How Christ-like are they when it comes to making decisions that affect millions of people every single day of their lives?
Can somebody say they are voting their faith then dismiss all the other things Jesus commanded his followers to care about when it comes to their fellow man?: It has recently been asked, "What profits a man if he gains the Supreme Court but loses his own soul?"
I wonder what Jesus would have to say about that?
How did abortion become the Number One Issue to many Christians?
In 1973 The Baptist Press applauded the Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, saying that, “Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision.” Two years before the Court’s decision, the Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution calling on fellow Southern Baptists to work to make abortion legal under certain conditions: rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.
So, how did the change in thought and mission happen?
After the 1971 Supreme Court ruling that institutions practicing segregation—whether or not they got public financial support—were not charitable institutions and therefore were not tax exempt. The result: Evangelicals through their colleges and private schools owed the government lots of money in back taxes.
In his book, “Thy Kingdom Come", Randall Balmer writes, “A conference call was held among leaders of a new group of Evangelicals such as James Dobson and Jerry Falwell to discuss strategies regarding segregation charges and demands for back taxes against Bob Jones University. Someone on the call pointed out their potential to be a broader political force if they added other issues to their agenda. Callers came up with a number of ideas, and then finally one caller said, how about abortion? No one voiced an objection, and abortion got added to the religious right’s agenda." And the Moral Majority and Christian Right was born.
Alianess Benny Njuguna from Kenya on September 28, 2020:
I didn't know that Christians there were looking only on one factor when voting for a candidate. You are right that Christians shouldn't only look whether the candidate is pro or anti abortionist. Rightly you said that we will know them by their fruits. Not one but several.
Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on September 15, 2020:
Totally respect your position. Mine is simply that there are more than this one issue to consider when voting. Abortion has been legal for 50 years. There are other responsiblities for us as Christian voters. Thanks for reading and responding.
Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on September 14, 2020:
No you are wrong. Prolife is standing up for human rights. Science in on the side of prolife. With each new discovery, we are learning that a fetus in the womb are a unique individual, separate and apart from the mother. Once the fetus is able to survive outside the womb, it does not need the mother. When does life begin? and when is that person protected by our Constitution? To me, it is not about any religion, but protecting a class of people.
Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on September 14, 2020:
"trying to force their own religious beliefs on the general population. " I've finally seen the light as well. Pro-life really translates to I want my religion to be your religion whether you like it or not.
Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on October 18, 2019:
Here we are, right where we knew would end up with Trump. And my question to my fellow but "lazy Christians" is this: Has abortion become illegal in America? No, it hasn't. Did you really think it would just by voting for this guy? Abortion to some Christians has become a golden calf just like the Hebrews made for themselves while Moses was up on the mountain getting the Ten Commandments from God. I had a preacher once tell me "Keep the Main Thing the main thing." Abortion is not the Main Thing for Christians. Never was.
Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on June 21, 2019:
"we know life begins much earlier" We do? Where is the irrefutable evidence?
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 15, 2019:
Kathleen, having been a legal editor for 30 years and having worked with a "heartbeat" law that failed in my own state, I saw firsthand the attitude of these legislators. It is obviously a religious issue, and these legislators were trying to force their own religious beliefs on the general population. These legislators, governors, et al. are as determined as the pope and cardinals were in the Middle Ages against heresy. What galls me is that the leaders of the pro-choice movement don't speak out against the violation of people's constitutional rights under the First Amendment. They are making it a civil rights issue, but not a 1st Amendment issue under the establishment clause of freedom from religion.
Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on June 15, 2019:
Perhaps, science triumphs over human emotions...
Now that we know life begins much earlier and some people with conscience do not believe taking a life is justified for expediency.
Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on June 15, 2019:
And now "Heartbeat Laws" passed in states with the highest infant/mother mortality rates in the nation. You'd think they would question their priorities unless they just don't care what happens to these babies and their mothers once that sanctified life is born.
Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on September 12, 2018:
This article has been updated for new information to be added.
Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on September 12, 2018:
"I’m not saying abortion cannot be an important issue to a Christian, but there is no scriptural or historical backing for it to be the number one issue, at the expense of the “least of these” who are suffering now. There are over 3,000 scriptures directly pertaining to helping the poor, showing love, character, giving, social justice, and asking the governing authorities to show justice and fairness. The Christian church in America cannot continue to prioritize one issue that is not directly addressed in the history of Christian teachings and in scripture, yet make secondary or of non-importance the social justice topics addressed in the entire Word, from Genesis to Revelation." Christina Forrester, founder of Christian Democrats
Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on January 21, 2018:
40 years later, the number of abortions today is approximately what it was when abortion was illegal. The difference: women aren't dying.
Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on February 15, 2017:
It is easy for people to make this the most important issue in their lives because most of them will never have to deal with it personally. My primary reason for being pro-choice is the conviction that I cannot know what goes on in an individual's life, so who am I to limit their options when faced with this situation. It's between them, their doctor, and their God.
Jo Miller from Tennessee on February 15, 2017:
I lost my first child in 1973. I was only peripherally aware of this discussion going on ( I had other big concerns), but I remember reading the very thoughtful columns in my local paper by a prominent theologian about this issue. Because I was so personally, emotionally affected, I also remember being so angry when the right took over this issue. I still feel emotional about the loss of our child and I'm still angry every time I hear someone like your neighbor make judgements about something she's probably never had to face because Franklin Graham tells her to.
Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on February 09, 2017:
1. It doesn't matter what anybody else thinks.
2. If you are worshiping in the only way you can, you are worshiping.
3. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ - the only requirement I know of for being a Christian.
peachy from Home Sweet Home on February 09, 2017:
Ever since I was married to a buddhist hubby, I didn't attend chucrch because my mother in law forbidded.
So, I set up an altar, prayed at home.
Am I still considered as a christtian?
Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on January 15, 2017:
GOL: Thank you. I held these feelings in as long as I could. It didn't do enough good to effect the election, but these issues are bigger than any one election. I just hope folks remember some of what's been written here when we reap what we have sown.
Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on January 14, 2017:
I have been dying to hear someone say the things you just did in this article. I'm sure a lot of Christians won't like hearing the hard truth, but it has to be said. You are 100 percent on target.
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on December 14, 2016:
I hate to use a newfangled term, but "sheeple" comes to mind. If they just understood what was really being done to them.
Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on December 14, 2016:
To quote a passage: "They will reap what they have sowed." The problem is they have no idea what they have sowed or are not interested. I'm not sure which is more frightening.
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on December 14, 2016:
I get so fed up with religious folks allowing a couple of narrow issues to define their voting practices.
Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on December 03, 2016:
Cat: Thanks. I've been hearing for years in the pulpit that God's judgement was coming down on America for the choices we've made. I think this might be what He had in mind. I take no pleasure in it. There are too many people I admire that today I'm disappointed in. God help us, indeed. But you know what? He is still God and I'm not. I trust He knows what He is doing.
Catherine Tally from Los Angeles on December 03, 2016:
Hi Kathleen. It is refreshing to read your views. I too have many friends who are devout Christians, and I couldn't believe the vicious and misinformed posts on FB. I've long wondered how evangelicals could ardently support such a candidate even when asked WWJD. I think you are correct, and now we are seeing a greater divide among men than we have in decades. God help us!
Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on November 12, 2016:
And so it ends. All the fine evangelicals out there can be proud of their choice. What a stellar person you have put in office.
Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on October 25, 2016:
MizB: Thanks for taking the challenge of commenting. I was beginning to think I'd scared everybody off. Didn't think I'd be accused of being "too nice" with this one. I've been holding these convictions in for so long, I finally just had to write and let the chips fall where they may. I hoped they might fall on a few who felt convicted themselves. Thanks.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on October 25, 2016:
Kathleen, I'm in agreement with you except for one thing, I don't call them "lazy." Here I think that you are being too nice. I think they are anything but lazy, and that in most cases their one-sided view is driven by an obsessive compulsive determination to get their point across. This is a very good article. Thanks for writing it.
Kathleen Cochran (author) from Atlanta, Georgia on October 24, 2016:
I'm pretty sure you're saying the same thing - too. Thanks for stopping by. I've been holding this in for a while now.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 24, 2016:
I rarely comment on religious articles, but on this one I'll simply say "faith should never be easy." If you believe in something then you have to commit to it completely. I'm pretty sure you're saying the same thing.