Monday, March 16, 2009

Weary of Obama's Lip Service

For some time, I have been promoting a common ground policy on abortion reduction. I first embraced abortion reduction because my progressive friends were prodding me to join with them to save unborn lives. When these individuals asked me to rally with them around such things as increased funding for adoption and comprehensive sexual education with an abstinence emphasis, I was happy to sign on. Other evangelicals like Joel Hunter, Sam Rodriguez, and David Gushee also signed onto this common ground agenda

I still support abortion reduction; that has not changed.

What has changed is the number of steps taken by the Obama administration to undermine the abortion reduction platform they have so boldly proclaimed. These steps are the subject of a new USA Today article by David Gushee entitled, "Mr. President, We Need More than Lip Service" and include: 

- Obama overturned the Mexico City Policy. Tragic, but expected. 
- Then, he revoked the "provider refusal" rule that protected healthcare workers' from violating their consciences. 
- Next, Obama nominated the radically pro-choice Kathleen Sebelius to head the Department of Health and Human Services. 
- Finally, the President boldly opened up the issue of stem cell research by repealing the bans that were in place. 

What happened to all the talk about "change?" It doesn't seem like much has changed to me.

"Mr. Obama, we need more than lip service on these crucial issues," Gushee said. I know others like myself stand with Dr. Gushee in expressing disappointment with these policies. We need a rapid change in direction from these policies, one that bridges the banks of the culture wars. The failure to make good on abortion reduction promises will breed animosity and division among those whom Obama has promised to unite. 


Anonymous said...

I too was on board with the idea of abortion reduction. Actually, I was on board with the broad, undefined "change" for a while as well.

If you go back to the day following the Democratic convention, there is a huge change in the way Obama spoke on issues, as well as in the way he used the mountains of cash he had been storing up.

A "political junkie" is what I would've, and still do at times, label myself. I am a work in progress. Some may call me a pessimist when I say that, this election opened my eyes to the pointlessness of the system.

By the time he was elected, both Obama and McCain had fully supported the first "bailout", and did so in the same manner in which politicians have always been able to do their "kingdom of the world" work, by playing on our fears.

Not that there aren't quality politicians who seek to truly serve their constituents, but I am fairly certain that we cannot seek first the kingdom of the world to open the doors to justice, peace, honesty, or even creation care.

If there is any change Obama has successfully brought, it is the change in me. For that I thank both him and the system he allows himself to be the billboard for.

I now seek to be a full participant in a different kind of system. A Kingdom that is a worthy for me to fully place my hope and anticipation of a justice, peace, honesty, and stewardship beyond my understanding.

In the Kingdom of God, the leaders look different, some would call it "weak" or "poor". I'd call it unstoppable.

As for me, I expect "lip service" from anyone in a position of worldly power, but love to receive the pleasant surprise that comes when I see integrity in politics.

And although I don't expect good things from politicians, I pray for them and the multitudes of people their policies enslave.

Followers of Jesus should live hopefully though, because the one and only Kingdom with hope for all it's citizens is fully coming.

So since our allegiance can only be pledged to one kingdom at a time, shouldn't we desire to give that allegiance to the One that offers us the purest form of "freedom & justice for all" that has yet to be seen or even imagined.

Anonymous said...

I'm still waiting....

However...I'm still praying. And that, I believe, is more effective.

Anonymous said...

By the way....great thoughts, and well put Stephen.

Chase said...

So I assume that if Pres O were to roll out some big abortion reduction initiative 6 months from now, you would feel better about things?

The President seems to be paying lip service to quite a few things, abortion reduction being just one of them:

No lobbyists in the WH; he’s made at least 2 dozen exceptions, and still counting

Posting of proposed legislation 5 days in advance of signing; not only has this not happened for the American public, but the full Congress was only given several hours to review the 1,000 page “stimulus” bill

Earmark reform; the latest Omnibus bill included 9,000 of them

And while I don’t know what his intentions are to mitigate or end the culture war, he continues to fuel a class war that was a key tenet of his campaign. Perhaps we are seeing the trading of one war for another.

Luke Hudson said...

You’re kidding, right? How can you be surprised by this? Obama told you what he was about during the campaign. Was the idea of an intellectual, charismatic, black man running for president so deafening that you didn't hear him?

Now you're getting your change. Be sure to look your kids in the eye when you tell them that you voted for it.

Jonathan Merritt said...


Tisk, tisk. You assume that I voted for Obama. I thought everyone knew what assuming does.


Jonathan Merritt said...


If the President made serious life affirming strides 6 months from now, I would be grateful.


Luke Hudson said...

I refer you to your post of February 5, 2009 - Washington Post On Obama and Abortion...

My response to the last time you dodged the voting question...

"Are you saying that you didn't vote for Obama?

If you didn't what sense does this make: "Many of us feel like we've stuck our necks out with our constituencies," I told the Washington Post. "He will have done us a great disservice if he does not come through."

Judging from your past blog entries, you sure didn't do anything to help the conservative side.

By the way, U comes before ME.

Jonathan Merritt said...


There you go again. My statements are not about my vote. I already explained that "stuck our necks out" does not refer to votes. The simple fact that it was in the presence of "constituencies" makes it clear that I am referring to public actions (trying to build common ground with progressives AFTER the election) rather than private actions (voting).


Luke Hudson said...

Dude, you should run for office. That was one of the best non-answer answers I’ve heard in a long time.

Tell you what, I’ll show mine if you show yours. Heck, I’ll show mine even though I know you won’t show yours. I voted for McCain. Why don’t you come clean and tell us who you voted for? I mean, if you’re not embarrassed or ashamed, why not?

Here’s my problem with your stated positions. You very publicly refused to support the Republican Party in the last election. You took your gripes to the street – to people in the opposition who readily lapped up and publicized the complaints of an intelligent young conservative.

You could have supported the only party in recent history that has worked to protect and promote the convictions of Christians in this country. Why didn’t you?

Now you’re finding out that you can’t make a “deal with the devil” by meeting liberals halfway and you’re surprised?

Let me make a prediction: you’re going to keep finding out that liberals aren’t interested in your viewpoint on anything. You can apply that to abortion, religious freedom, the role of government, the environment and anything else that Christians and conservatives have traditionally valued. The liberals currently in power are in slash and burn mode. If you aren’t 100% with them, then you’re 100% against them and they’ll use you for what they can get and spit you out.

Jonathan, I believe we’re brothers in Christ and agree on the most important issue – salvation through Jesus Christ. That’s why I’ve been attempting to converse with you. You seem to have a lot of energy and creativity. Why not run with the wind at your back? Spend your time trying to change conservatives rather than liberals.

** By the way, if you are genuinely interested in conversations, “there you go again” is a definite conversation stopper.

Jonathan Merritt said...


I love conversation, but I don't like bombing rubble. "There you go again" means that we have already had this conversation, and not to your satisfaction. I can't help you with that.

I don't discuss my votes or ask others for their primarily because I think they are private. Even when Jesus was asked for a back door up-or-down vote on Ceasar and the reigning political faction in Matthew 22, he side-stepped it to reaffirm a principle. I am happy to discuss principles and values, but I never publicly endorse a candidate or discuss my voting record.

My goal is not to support "conservatives" or "liberals" or to bolster "republicans" or "democrats." I simply speak what I believe to be the truth of God's word and support the values that flow from that. Sometimes that leads to a perception of conservatism and at times of liberalism. Maybe the sum of all parts is right-leaning centrism. I don't know.


Luke Hudson said...

OK, let's forget about who you voted for and talk about the other 80% of my post. I don't think you really answered my questions. I'm ready for a conversation.

Adam said...

If we are all honest with ourselves we have to admit that all parties give lip service. It's not just this administration, but this administration made some big promises to attract people and now most are seeing that they cannot, and will not, fulfill them.

Jonathan, I know you're a smart man but did you not see this coming? Or were enamored with "HOPE" that there would be progress made in the area of abortion. Actions speak louder than words. It's an old adage but it's true. Obama's record in the past didn't bode well for any true help in reducing or eliminating abortions in this nation. It doesn't matter who is in power, I would love to see abortions cease, but even a reduction at this point would be a step in the right direction.

Good post, and I appreciate your honesty. All I can say is keep praying and keep reaching people for Christ. Government is not going to solve this, it's going to be a great movement of the Holy Spirit to change peoples lives for actions to change. As much as we like to think we can and try, we can't legislate morality and righteous deeds.