by Frank Schaeffer
I am an Obama supporter. I am also pro-life. In fact, without my family's involvement in the pro-life movement it would not exist as we know it. Evangelicals weren't politicized until after my late father and evangelical leader Francis Schaeffer, Dr. Koop (Reagan's soon-to-be Surgeon General) and I stirred them up over the issue of abortion in the mid-1970s. Our Whatever Happened to the Human Race? book, movie series and seminars brought the evangelicals into the pro-life movement.
(Dad's political influence persists. Last week one of my father's followers -- Mike Huckabee -- was interviewed by Katie Couric, along with all the other presidential candidates. Couric asked the candidates if they were to be sent to a desert island and could only take one book besides the Bible, what would that that book be? Huckabee answered that he'd take my father's book Whatever Happened To The Human Race?)
In 2000, we elected a president who claimed he believed God created the earth and who, as president, put car manufacturers and oil company's interests ahead of caring for that creation. We elected a pro-life Republican Congress that did nothing to actually care for pregnant women and babies. And they took their sincere evangelical followers for granted, and played them for suckers.
The so-called evangelical leadership -- Dobson, Robertson et al. also played the pro-life community for suckers. While thousands of men and women in the crisis pregnancy movement gave of themselves to help women and babies, their evangelical "leaders" did little more than cash in on fundraising opportunities and represent themselves as power-brokers to the craven politicians willing to kowtow to them.
Today when I listen to Obama speak (and to his remarkable wife, Michelle) what I hear is a world view that actually nurtures life. Obama is trying to lead this country to a place where the intrinsic worth of each individual is celebrated. A leader who believes in hope, the future, trying to save our planet and providing a just and good life for everyone is someone who is actually pro-life.
Conversely the "pro-life" ethic of George W. Bush manifested itself in a series of squandered opportunities to call us to our better natures. After 9/11, Bush told most Americans to go shopping while saddling the few who volunteered for military service with endless tours of duty (something I know a little about since my son was a Marine and deployed several times). The Bush doctrine of life was expressed by starting an unnecessary war in Iraq that has killed thousands of Americans and wounded tens of thousands more.
The society that Obama is calling us to sacrifice for is a place wherein life would be valued not just talked about. As he said in his speech delivered on February 6 in New Orleans, "Too often, we lose our sense of common destiny; that understanding that we are all tied together; that when a woman has less than nothing in this country, that makes us all poorer." Obama was talking about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but his words also apply to our overall view of ourselves.
Regardless of the official position of the Supreme Court on abortion, a country in which all Americans are offered some sort of dignity and hopeful future would be a place conducive to the kind of optimism each of us must hold in our hearts if we are to welcome children into this world. But if our highest aspiration is to be a consumer with no thought or care for our neighbor, we will remain a culture in which abortion is not only inevitable but logical.
What we need in America is a spiritual rebirth, a turning away from the false value of consumerism and utilitarianism that have trumped every aspect of human life. To implement this vision we need leaders that inspire but to do so they have to be what they say they are. It's not about policy it's about character.
Obama's rivals for the nomination -- the Clintons -- do not inspire. When the Clintons were in the White House they talked about humane values while Bill Clinton betrayed every single person who voted for him by carrying on an unseemly sexual dalliance in the Oval Office with a young woman barely out of her teens. Since that time the Clintons have enriched themselves through their connections to a point where they're able to make a $5 million personal loan to their campaign.
For someone who says she has spent "the last 35 years of my life as an advocate for children" and/or "fighting for healthcare" that's a lot of money to have collected through doing good works. Presidential Mother Teresa wannabes shouldn't be doing deals with uranium mining outfits in Kazakhstan while schmoozing with the likes of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and wealthy mining magnates -- not if they want the moral authority to lead.
Similarly the Republicans have also been hypocrites while talking big, for instance about their pro-life ethic. But what have they achieved? First, through their puritanical war on sex education they've hindered our country from actually preventing unwanted pregnancy. Second, through the Republican Party's marriage to the greediest and most polluting earth-destroying corporations they've created a climate (both moral and physical) that has scorched the earth for-profit, with no regard to future generations whatsoever. The Republicans are to the pro-life movement what the Clintons are to selfless public service.
The real solution to abortion is to change the heart of America, not the law. We need to stop seeing ourselves as consumers. We need to stop seeing ourselves as me and begin to think of we. Our country needs someone to show us a better way, a president who is what he seems, someone with actual moral authority that our diverse population can believe in who has the qualities that make us want to follow him. Obama is that person.
Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of "CRAZY FOR GOD -- How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back"