I’m aware this is a serious charge. But the church’s decades-long tacit sanction of mass murder is a serious matter.
We need to stop mincing words. When heinous acts—even acts of omission, like silence in the face of evil—are deliberately committed in the name of God, there is no more fitting word to describe it. It is blasphemy: the intentional and defiant dishonoring of God. To fail to call it what it is minimizes, and effectively harbors and perpetuates, the abominable practice through euphemism’s power to anesthetize sensibilities. The sanction of this unspeakable evil must end immediately. And there is good reason to believe it can.
In March I outlined a “One-Minute Strategy for Ending Abortion ‘Overnight.’” It met with overwhelmingly enthusiastic approval from a broad cross-section of lay Christians and Jews worldwide. But troublingly, it generated virtually no response from church leadership except among Catholics.
That suggested to me more than mere happenstance. It suggested intentionality. So I wrote a second article, subtitling it “An Open Letter to Evangelical Pastors in America.” I hoped to coax out the reasons for the unresponsiveness. But I obtained virtually identical results: enthusiastic embrace at the pew level, but no significant adoption of the strategy by church leadership, and no explanation for the overall general unresponsiveness.
Which continues to baffle and frustrate me. The One-Minute Strategy to End Abortion (acronym “TOM’S TEA”) is so simple and straightforward. I can think of no good reason for not implementing it. If there is one, no one is telling me.
In fact, evangelical pastors aren’t telling me anything. I do get the very occasional defensive soundbite, consisting of a few sentences contending that “the mission of the church is simply to preach the gospel, period.” But one would think a matter of this gravity would warrant either a formal defense, or else the immediate embrace of a strategy like the one proposed. Instead, the silence persists and the church continues by default to approve and enable the modern-day equivalent of Moloch child-sacrifice.
And then there’s the “defiant” aspect. If “intentional” is roughly synonymous with “purposeful,” then “defiant” is something darker still. But again, the days—indeed, the shameful decades—of pulling punches are at an end.
Defiance connotes not merely what may be construed as ignorant purposefulness, but deliberate, stubborn willfulness. It means that whatever ideas underlie pulpit silence, the remedy is not so much robust reeducation as radical repentance.
Martin Luther King, Jr., would agree. He would unflinchingly impute defiant culpability. It was King who famously stated, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” Dr. King also said, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer likewise would agree that this is an eyes-wide-open, deep moral problem. Said Bonhoeffer, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
Charles Finney would not only agree but bring it home to the church’s leaders, where the preponderance of responsibility falls:
Brethren, our preaching will bear its legitimate fruits. If immorality prevails in the land, the fault is ours in a great degree. If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it. If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it. Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation.
The ideas of these men are thoroughly biblical. In fact, James says the hallmark of spurious faith is profession without concomitant action to care for the neediest, most helpless people. Without the accompanying works of what he terms “pure religion,” our supposed faith is not faith at all. (Significantly, James is also the one who wrote, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.”)
The pulpit that preaches the gospel of God’s love but refuses to consistently decry abortion is one of the most blatant and profound examples of “faith without works” I can think of. Churches doing this effectively negate by their actions the very message they preach. They may have a name and reputation that they are alive, but they prove by their works—or lack thereof—that they are dead (Revelation 3:1).
Hear me: If silence in the face of great evil is itself great evil, then where there is reasonable prospect of diminishing the evil by decrying it, silence becomes an evil that is positively monstrous. There is reasonable prospect of diminishing this evil by decrying it. Please let that sink in.
If the thought of 3,500 babies being savagely murdered every day doesn’t keep you awake at night, my silent, God-empowered-to-say-and-do-something-about-it friends who stand in pulpits week after week ostensibly dispensing the message of God’s love for “the least of these,” then maybe the thought that you are complicit in an unspeakably great evil and shall one day answer for it, will.
Again I implore you: Implement some form of the One-Minute Strategy in your church as soon as possible, and then, performing works consistent with our most holy faith, admonish your congregation to vote pro-life on November 6—or else defend, here in public, in writing, why you won’t.
But do something. Not to act is to act. Silence is blasphemy.
* * *
“This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy; for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth.” (2 Kings 19:3)
* * *
O preacherman, I need you now, this hour.
The executioner unsheaths the knife
To serve me cruel death; but you have power
To stay his murderous hand and grant me life.
Refuse by guilty silence to blaspheme
Against the God whose image plain I bear;
From pulpit rooftop sound my silent scream,
For God gave vicars so the world could hear.
Your lisping gospel-shibboleths of love
Forbear; instead, incarnate love with deed;
For life is but a word until you prove
By feast that here is fruit and not mere seed.
I beg you, shout Love’s one-word sermon: “Don’t!”
Though from your unteared eyes I fear you won’t.
Rolley “Nathan” Haggard loves the little ewe lambs that are being led—without advocacy—to slaughter, and his anger is greatly kindled. (cf. 2 Samuel 12:1-7)