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How one of America's largest black denominations is campaigning against abortion

How one of America's largest black denominations is campaigning against abortion

Attendees worship during the kickoff of the pro-life Sudden Uprising conference held at Emmanuel Church of God in Christ in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 18, 2019. | PHOTO: THE CHRISTIAN POST

Black churches across the nation are engaging in a campaign against abortion that involves not only political advocacy against groups like Planned Parenthood but also the provision of resources to vulnerable mothers who choose to give birth.

The Church of God in Christ (COGIC), a Pentecostal-Holiness denomination with over 6.5 million members across the globe, is stressing upon churches the need for them to serve as “landing pads” that assist women facing unwanted pregnancies and the need to engage the dark realities of abortion’s impact on the black community.

Through its Family Life Campaign launched in 2015, COGIC is partnering with Human Coalition, a nationwide network of pro-life crisis pregnancy clinics, to reach and serve African-American women who would have otherwise “walked in the doors of Planned Parenthood” or another abortion clinic.

The Family Life Campaign is believed to be the first sustained pro-life campaign launched by a major black denomination in the U.S. 

“Quite honestly, many denominations — white and predominantly black denominations — have not taken a stand and literally said, ‘This is what we stand for,’” Leslie Monet, the international director of COGIC’s Family Life Campaign, told The Christian Post.

“But we recognize that Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood, was a deeply racist woman. She [advocated] for populations to be decreased because she thought that they were unfit. And that includes the African American community. Throughout history, Planned Parenthood has sought to fulfill Margaret Sanger’s legacy and aimed for our community. And that's why it is important to the Church of God in Christ.”

The Family Life Campaign was launched by COGIC’s Presiding Bishop Charles Blake, who voiced concern about what’s happening to children today as data shows that black women disproportionately account for more than one-third of all abortions in the United States.

And in a place like New York City, abortions' impact on the black community is so great that the number of black babies aborted in the city outnumbers the babies actually born.

Monet said that throughout the nation, COGIC church volunteers have counseled countless women in hopes of making choices for life.

"When we find that there is a young woman that is unsure, we talk to her, we put her in the direction of these [Human Coalition] pregnancy centers, and we come alongside them to help them make the choice for life,” Monet added. 

“And sometimes this involves providing baby items. And sometimes it could be more expensive, where we need to walk with her throughout her pregnancy. That has been such a rewarding process for us to see these young women — not only to save their babies but for them to receive salvation.”

Monet herself was given up for adoption as a baby after her pregnant mother was taken in by a couple belonging to a COGIC church in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. She is also an adoptive mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina who has personally counseled at least 10 pregnant women.

“My adoption is a touching story and it's something that fuels me to fight for other women,” Monet explained. “Because I could not be here, quite honestly.”

Although it might not be a new occurrence for churches to help women in need, the idea of actively addressing the issue of abortion is “not spoken of” in most churches, Monet stressed.

But Monet is hopeful that will change through the Family Life Initiative. In addition to COGIC churches, she said that a number of independent churches have also expressed interest in participating in the Family Life Campaign.

“We want every member to be engaged about life. We want every member to know the facts about what abortion does, and how we can help our generations to overcome this cycle of death,” Monet told CP. “And we want them to know that there's a target, in reference to the African-American community that Planned Parenthood or other clinics have to meet their status quo.”

Monet recently participated in a jurisdictional training session in Charlotte attended by pastors, lay people, missionaries and evangelists who were taught about the initiative so they can be prepared to respond to situations involving crisis pregnancies in their communities.

“The church has duplicated this process to be in every church,” Monet said. “We want to see this life campaign in every church.”

How the Family Life Campaign operates at the local church level is often left up to the churches and their leaders.

“It may be that five churches in a community come together and they pray on the outside of the clinic,” Monet explained. “And if they talk with someone, they're able to share the Gospel, they're able to share what resources we have. And those resources primarily are coming from our pregnancy centers that we link to churches.”

Monet said that in at least two cases, COGIC has helped mothers who have chosen to give birth to their children either find housing or be able to keep their housing.

“When you decide you are going to keep the baby, you're on the track to placing yourself in a position where you're going to be welcoming that baby. And every baby needs a home,” Monet assured. “Every women and child need a place to stay. And so we're able to come alongside her, find her housing for emergency purposes and then work with her to get into a home and apartment.”

In addition to work supporting mothers who decided not to abort their children, the Family Life Campaign presses upon COGIC members to become foster parents and adopt from the foster care system. There are over 422,000 kids in the foster care system in the U.S.

“We guide them to get certified and trained within their counties within their state to adopt, then we come alongside them for support,” Monet said.

The Family Life Campaign also presses upon churches the need to minister to the post-abortive women in their pews.

“We realized that we needed to target women that are post-abortive because it's one out of every three,” Monet said. “They're sitting in our churches and there really hasn't been a conversation in many — not just the African American community — churches about post-abortion and how we get those women healed. So that's a separate initiative for these.”

Monet travels to various COGIC jurisdictional meetings throughout the country to represent COGIC’s pro-life campaign and speak out on behalf of adoption and foster care. She stressed that “adoption is the answer to abortion.”

The Family Life Campaign also engages in various forms of political or civic advocacy. 

In Charlotte, North Carolina, COGIC pastors will be engaging for the next six weeks in a grassroots campaign against the opening of a new Planned Parenthood clinic in Charlotte.

Monet spoke out last week about the deceptive practices of Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. The organization was accused of establishing a shell company to proceed with its plans for the new clinic in the town’s historic Cherry Hill neighborhood under the radar of concerned citizens.

“We're going to do some press conferences, some lunches, and we're going to be doing a door-to-door type of grassroots process where we engage the Charlotte community and let them know what's going on,” Monet explained. “And make them aware of how Planned Parenthood has yet again invaded an African American community to slaughter us.”

Although COGIC is working to change the hears of abortive-minded mothers, Monet admits that the pro-abortion Democratic Party has a political grip on African-Americans at the voting booth.

In positions of power, Democrats tend to advance policies that create greater access to abortion as well as policies that are “antithetical to the church.”

“Politically speaking, we have to wake up and we have to connect the dots,” Monet stressed of the African-American community. “Our doctrine has to be more powerful to us than any political party.”

Earlier this year, black Christian leaders affiliated with the Douglass Christian Leadership Institute, the Georgia-based Restoration Project and the National Black Pro-Life Coalition held the "Sudden Uprising" conference at a COGIC church in Washington, D.C. to speak out against abortion and federal birth control and contraceptive funding. 

The leaders at the conference called on the Department of Health and Human Services to abolish the Office of Population Affairs, an entity that administers Title X funding and funds clinics that provide long-acting reversible contraception. 

Follow Samuel Smith on Twitter: @IamSamSmith

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