Bound4LIFE: Now the vote just ended on this bill. How does it correct the issue of government discrimination against medical providers and churches like yours?
Pastor Jim Garlow: We had a victory moments ago, when the Conscience Protection Act passed by a bipartisan majority vote of 245-182 in the U.S. House. Our team was seated in the House Gallery praying. Now it will proceed to the U.S. Senate, where it will hopefully be voted on this fall.
This week, I've been sitting with attorneys who've been using all this legalese — some of which I did not follow, quite frankly. Let me approach the specifics in layman's terms. This bill tightens the screws down on these amendments already enacted. It gets rid of this notion that you cannot sue if you're coerced into providing an abortion. That's the quick and easy way of understanding it.
This bill would take out the language where they twisted the Weldon Amendment to mean something different. The Obama Administration released a statement last night saying the President would most certainly veto this bill if it arrives at his desk because it would "limit women's health care."
They are completely ignoring the reality of the shift. When they push for certain policies, the Left at first says, "Let us do this — you've just got to tolerate it." Then next they say, "You've got to affirm it." And finally they say, "No, you've got to participate in this activity." In this case, they want us to participate in the killing.
They attempt these three levels every time: toleration, affirmation, participation. They are ruthless. They have no respect for the First Amendment rights of the Constitution.
Bound4LIFE: For someone who does not hold pro-life convictions, why should they support this bill?
Pastor Jim Garlow: Tonight, we had three Democratic members join the majority in voting for this bill. Now the Democratic Party, according to its platform, is unashamedly pro-choice — I would call it pro-abortion, to be honest.
Many leaders mentioned earlier who wrote these amendments, such as Senator Frank Church, were Democrats who said that a person's conscience should not be violated. There's been a fair amount of bipartisan support for conscience rights, because this policy is not fundamentally about the issue of abortion.
Rather, it addresses, Is the First Amendment going to be respected? That question is on two levels. On one level, there are those of us who uphold the sanctity of life based on Biblical reasons — we can point to chapter and verse, as well as church doctrine.
On a second level, there are atheists who object to abortion and they don't have to give a theological reason for that. It's a matter of conscience for them, period. No one should be forced to do something they find offensive.
This was emphasized strongly in the Energy and Commerce subcommittee forum. Two of us testifying were pastors, while two others were conscientious objectors whose stand for life was not tied to theological reasons. No American should be forced to participate in abortion.
Bound4LIFE: You noted your role as a pastor. Sometimes speaking of the value of every life seems distant or political to people. How does Skyline Church live out your pro-life beliefs?
Pastor Jim Garlow: It concerns me that we live in a culture where people wonder, Why should we care about a pro-life position? How ludicrous is that! The average person uses the word "abortion" with far too much ease. When I was in front of the Congressional committee, I said, "Let's call it what it is: abortion is dismembering a human being, ripping them to shreds. Innocent blood is flowing in the streets of our cities."
At Skyline Church, we are activists. We hold accountable those in public life. We also adopt babies — I've adopted four myself. One of my adopted children is an adult now, who has adopted children. My wife passed away a number of years ago and I remarried, then I had stepchildren; one of their children is adopted.
My daughter-in-law, whom I claim as my own, runs an adoption ministry. So she's standing for life full-time on the frontlines. Some of our congregation goes out to abortion centers for the purpose of praying and reaching out in compassion. When I pastored in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, I was heavily involved on that important front.
Bound4LIFE: You mention Texas, which was at the center of a recent Supreme Court decision seen as a setback for the pro-life movement. Do you have hope as a pro-life pastor?
Pastor Jim Garlow: I do have hope. The pro-life movement is very encouraging to me as a pastor. How we're seeing the next generation take a stand against abortion is thrilling.
I have a cautious optimism, built on whether this nation has a critical mass of people who are willing to repent of sin, hold leaders accountable and refuse to tolerate the kind of actions we've seen going on. We have tough battles here, but they are winnable to the extent that we will follow the Word of God.