The Violent Hypocrisy of Some Peace and Justice Evangelicals

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The “peace and justice” Christians are insistent in telling us they don’t wish to move away from issues such as the protection of unborn Christian life. They simply seek to “expand” Christian social witness away from a truncated “Religious Right” focus on abortion and marriage. We’re not pro-abortion, groups such as Sojourners and leaders such as Jim Wallis assure us. It’s just that we believe that life doesn’t begin at conception and end at birth. We believe, they say, that global warming and quality day care and an increased minimum wage are pro-life issues too! Next time you hear this kind of rhetoric, just spend some time looking at the kind of political activists drawn to the big tent of the evangelical Left.

Last summer I mentioned here the sad case of the Rev. Donna Schaper, pastor of Judson Memorial Baptist Church, an American Baptist congregation in New York. Rev. Schaper wrote in Tikkun magazine about aborting her daughter, a daughter she named “Alma.” She wrote in the article that she doesn’t apologize for or even regret her decision. She further argued that abortion has been a positive development, allowing sex to be “recreational” for both men and women.

In a chilling line, Rev. Schaper wrote:

I did what was right for me, for my family, for my work, for my husband, and for my three children. I happen to agree that abortion is a form of murder. I think the quarrel about when life begins is disrespectful to the fetus. I know I murdered the life within me. I could have loved that life but chose not to. I did what men do all the time when they take us to war: they choose violence because, while they believe it is bad, it is still better than the alternatives.

Now, Rev. Schaper writes in recent days for Jim Wallis’s “God’s Politics” blog on the subject of, of all things, responding to violence. In light of the Virginia Tech massacre, Schaper offers a “small guide for good worship” for Christians in response to acts of violence. These include her suggestion to involve ‘diverse constituencies” in the worship. As she puts it: “This (in my view) is not the time to invoke the name of Jesus so much as the name of the God beyond God. Don’t alienate people who may never have wanted religious connection before!”

It would be appropriate and commendable for Jim Wallis to ask a self-confessed murderer to speak to the issue of violence. After all, a repentant and forgiven murderer stands as one of the pillars of the foundation of the church, the former Saul of Tarsus. A repentant killer could speak to the horror of violence, as one culpable and redeemed. But there is no Damascus Road here. This is a woman who has justified and celebrated the taking of an innocent human life, an act she says she knows is murder. And yet, she is the one, for Jim Wallis, who can instruct us on how “God’s Politics” views violence, indeed how to worship in its wake.

About this much the “peace and justice” evangelicals are right indeed: It is easier to respond to violence in this way when one doesn’t mention Jesus.

Only when we see how lost we are, we can find our way again. Only when we bury what’s dead can we experience life again. Only when we lose our religion can we be amazed by grace again.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Editor in Chief of Christianity Today and is the author of the forthcoming book Losing Our Religion: An Altar Call for Evangelical America (Penguin Random House).