Prominent evangelical leaders have just released a statement urging pro-life evangelicals to vote for Joe Biden. The signers include John Huffman, board chair emeritus of Christianity Today; Richard Foster, best-selling author of Celebration of Discipline; Jerushah Duford, Billy Graham’s granddaughter; Brenda Salter McNeil, author, speaker and long-time I VCF leader; John Perkins, founder of the Christian Community Development Association; the two authors of this piece; and a number of former presidents of evangelical universities.
The signers are diverse: a Trump voter in 2016; a lifelong Republican who refused to vote for Trump or Clinton in 2016; people who never before in their life publicly endorsed a presidential candidate until this year.
Their statement acknowledges that “as pro-life evangelicals, we disagree with Vice President Biden and the Democratic platform on the issue of abortion.” “But we believe,” the statement continues, “that a biblically shaped commitment to the sanctity of human life compels us to a consistent ethic of life that affirms the sanctity of human life from beginning to end."
READ CP EDITORIAL RESPONDING TO "We are pro-life evangelicals for Biden"
The statement points out that many problems that better politics could correct violate the sanctity of human life. Poverty, lack of health care, racism and climate change all kill persons created in the image of God. They are all pro-life issues.
Poverty and diseases we know how to prevent kill millions every year. The World Food Program estimates that by the end of 2020, 265 million people around the world could be pushed to the brink of starvation. PEPFAR (President George W. Bush’s President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief) has saved the lives of 17 million people around the world. But in repeated budget proposals, Donald Trump has proposed cutting this effective program. Other effective US funded foreign aid programs have saved the lives of millions. But Donald Trump has also repeatedly tried to cut that help for starving people. Poverty is a pro-life issue.
Lack of health care kills people. Studies have shown that people without health insurance are less likely to visit a doctor, are more likely to have poor health, and die younger than persons with health insurance. The Affordable Care Act provided health insurance to an additional 20 million Americans – and prohibited insurance companies from refusing to cover persons with pre-existing conditions. Donald Trump has repeatedly tried to abolish the Affordable Care Act and has not offered any genuine alternative. Health care for all is a pro-life issue.
Racism kills. We know that racism killed African-Americans in slavery and then later in thousands of lynchings. But even today, African-Americans are several times more likely than white Americans to be killed by the police. And the death rate for African-Americans because of COVID-19 is 3.6 times that of white Americans. Tragically Donald Trump refuses to condemn racist groups and continues to stoke racism rather than uniting the country to struggle against racism. Racism is a pro-life issue – and it is on the ballot in 2020 in an unusually significant way.
Climate change already kills untold thousands and will soon kill tens of millions unless we change. The overwhelming scientific consensus is that unless we quickly reduce the amount of greenhouse gases causing global warming that we send into the atmosphere, many millions will die. The poor will suffer the most. But Donald Trump denies the near scientific consensus on climate change and has made numerous policy decisions that make things much worse. Climate change is a pro-life issue.
We want to be clear. We mourn abortion and are committed to work to reduce the number of abortions. But three things are important.
First even if Donald Trump wins in November 3 and the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade, not a great deal will change. Gallup poll after Gallup poll shows that about 75% of the American people want abortion to be legal (although, fortunately, a majority also want some restrictions). So when the individual states recover the right to write the laws on abortion, abortion will be legal for most Americans.
Second, the most common reason women give for abortions is the financial difficulty of another child. Knowing that, we appreciate the fact that a number of Democratic proposals would significantly alleviate that financial burden: accessible health services for all citizens, affordable childcare, a minimum wage that lifts workers out of poverty.
Third, not just abortion but poverty, lack of health coverage, racism and climate change are also pro-life issues. The statement notes that the official public policy document of the National Association of Evangelicals (For the Health of the Nation) says: “Faithful evangelical civic engagement and witness must have a biblically balanced agenda”. Therefore the new Pro-life Evangelicals for Biden document says that “we must oppose ‘one issue’ political thinking because it lacks a biblical balance."
And the statement concludes: “For these reasons, we believe that on balance, Joe Biden’s policies are more consistent with the biblically shaped ethic of life than those of Donald Trump. Therefore, even as we continue to urge different policies on abortion, we urge evangelicals to elect Joe Biden as president.” People can add their signature at: www.prolifeevangelicalsforbiden.com.
Ronald J Sider is president emeritus of Evangelicals for Social Action. Richard Mouw is president emeritus of Fuller Seminary.