A coalition of more than 100 religious leaders and theologians, including some registered Democrats, sent an open letter to the Democratic platform committee Friday, urging it to reject taxpayer funding of abortion and to embrace policies that support “legal protection for pre-born children.”
The committee is expected to release its proposed platform in the coming weeks.
The letter was organized by Democrats for Life and includes signatures from former Fuller Theological Seminary president Richard Mouw, Baylor University professor George Yancey, National Latino Evangelical Association President Gabriel Salguero, and seven individuals associated with Notre Dame.
The current Democratic platform, the letter says, supports “abortion extremism.”
“Some of us are registered Democrats and some of us are not, but we appreciate the Democratic Party’s stated commitment to human rights, equality, and fairness,” the letter says. “Accordingly, we urge the Democratic Party to embrace policies that protect both women and children: legal protection for pre-born children, improved prenatal care for women in need, especially women of color, alternatives to abortion, and a comprehensive culture of life free from violence, poverty and racism.”
The letter specifically urges the platform committee to reject taxpayer funding of abortion. The 2016 Democratic Platform called for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, a federal legislative provision that bars public funds from being used for most abortions.
The letter also encourages the party to broaden its tent to pro-lifers, including those running for office. Tennessee state Rep. John DeBerry, who was ousted from the state Democratic Party in part because of his pro-life views, signed the letter. He is an ordained minister.
“We call upon you to recognize the inviolable human dignity of the child, before and after birth,” the letter says. “We urge you to reject a litmus test on pro-life people of faith seeking office in the Democratic Party. Crucially, we urge you to end the explicit support in your platform for abortion extremism, such as taxpayer-funded abortion in America and overseas, opposed by 60% and 76% of voters.”
The letter continues: “79% of voters oppose elective abortion on demand, including, but not limited to, many people of faith. They deserve a home in the Democratic Party.”
The letter referenced a January Marist Poll.
Scripture supports a pro-life view on abortion, the letter says.
“Inspired by the Christian faith, we note that the Bible calls on us to speak up in favor of those who do not have a voice (Proverbs 31:8-9; Matthew 25:45). We also note that life begins at fertilization (Psalm 22:10-11; Galatians 1:15; Luke 1:41; Psalm 139:13-15; Jeremiah 1:5),” the letter says. “Finally, we note that abortion takes the life of the innocent, which is against Scripture (Exodus 20:13; 2 Kings 17:17; Deuteronomy 5:17; Revelation 22:15; Psalm 106:38; Proverbs 6:17).
“Informed by human reason, we recall that 95% of biologists affirm the biological view that life begins at fertilization. Likewise, we recall the opinion of leading scholars, who have rejected Roe v. Wade as ‘bad constitutional law.’ We recall that denying personhood to the pre-born child has disturbing parallels to Dred Scott vs. Sandford. Sadly, the US is just one of seven countries, alongside North Korea, to allow the horrific practice of elective late-term abortion after 20 weeks.”
Significantly, the letter says it is not taking a position on particular candidates or parties.
“However, we have an obligation to speak truth to power in the face of injustice and inequality,” the letter says. “The law should consider the convictions of all citizens and the principles from which they are derived. The Christian faith invites us to play a particular role in moving the conscience of the American people to end unjust discrimination against certain classes of people, as in previous civil rights movements.”
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Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.