Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard speaking. I hope you don’t mind me being a little more personal than I usually am on this blog.
Although I’ve been an atheist for years, I grew up in the United Methodist church. It’s not a fire-and-brimstone denomination. I’m fortunate in that my memories of church are mostly positive: Silly Songs with Larry, Vacation Bible School, and my role as the narrator in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in my senior year of high school (the peak of my short acting career).
But in retrospect, my church lacked courage. We stuck to happy, uncontroversial charitable activities. Our membership was overwhelmingly white and we didn’t make any significant effort to change that. And we definitely steered clear of abortion.
Once I was old enough to understand, I was disturbed to realize that not only was my home church silent, but the denomination as a whole was officially “pro-choice.” As a result, even when I was a Christian, I was a secular pro-lifer. While a student at the University of Miami, I volunteered at a local Methodist after-school program, and simultaneously led UM’s Students for Life group in active opposition to my church’s teaching.*
The conflict wasn’t enough to make me leave, at least not right away. Atheism was a gradual process for me; the Bible and key doctrines stopped making sense, and I came to see that I could be good without God. But the fact that leaving my church didn’t require me to leave behind my pro-life networks too probably helped ease the transition.
Last week, the United Methodist Church finally took a step forward for human rights
and voted to withdraw from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). RCRC is SPL’s polar opposite and advocates vocally for abortion.
Speaking for the withdrawal, delegate Katherine Rohrs from West Ohio, said she’s heard time and again about the need to stay at the table because the UMC’s voice matters, but nothing has changed.
“RCRC refuses to talk about unborn children as just that,” Rohrs said. “They refuse to condemn abortion as a form of birth control or gender selection. They affirm abortion in any way.”
Is this enough to make me return to faith? No; at this point, I don’t think anything would be. But it’s nice to see my childhood church do the right thing.
* Last month, abortion advocates at Southern Methodist University vandalized a pro-life display.