Evangelical Women Hit Pause on Culture War
July 9, 2018: As President Trump makes his intentions with the U.S. Supreme Court clear, a most surprising voice of dissent is emerging. A rising chorus of leading Evangelical women is asking America to stop the Senate from rushing to confirmation and hit pause on the Culture Wars. What may at first blush sound counterintuitive, decades of the Conservative Evangelicals’ strategy to dominate the Supreme Court will result in a loss for the pro-life movement and for people of color sitting in the only growing segment of the evangelical church; evangelical churches of color. Hard data proves it and Evangelical women are saying enough:
Abortion rates for American women have hit an all time low, but they’ve increased among poor women because economic hardship is the primary driver of abortion. The way to reduce abortion is not through escalating culture wars but by reducing poverty. Instead, the conservative court will continue to unravel hard won rights and freedoms that add to poverty. Rulings have already whittled away voting rights and desegregation, adding to divisiveness across the country — even within our church pews.
This Call to Pause was initiated by author Lisa Sharon Harper, president and founder of Freedom Road, LLC, who has garnered public statements from more than a dozen leading conservative evangelical women across the nation and spectrum of evangelicals. The group is calling on all Evangelical women to:
1) Hit Pause by calling our Senators to demand they replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy with a moderate independent Justice. Senate switchboard: 1-(202) -224-3121
2) Fast for God’s discernment after 35 years of a Culture War mindset. We recognize that three things happen in war:
a) There are only allies and enemies, no human beings. b) You cannot be wrong in war. You are always right. The other is always wrong. c) There is always collateral damage in war. We want God to show us a path forward toward the common good, humility, and real solutions that will bless all.
3) Listen to the stories and testimonies of the people of color in the pew right next to us.
4) Act on our prayerful, informed discernment.
“On the day that Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, I fell to my knees in prayer. Tears fell as I prayed for the unborn…and my nieces and nephews and their children. What kind of world are we making for them? Majority conservative rulings have already whittled back Civil Rights protections, leaving this generation’s children as vulnerable to a New Jim Crow, as my great grandparents who fled for their lives from the terror of the Jim Crow South. They’ve harmed the cause of decreasing abortion.
It is time our actions reset our hearts and minds, our evangelical faith, and the direction of our divided nation.”
~ Lisa Sharon Harper
President and Founder of Freedom Road, LLC, Auburn Senior Fellow and author of several books, including The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong can be Made Right
“As we consider the next 20-30 years of SCOTUS rulings, charting the landscape for vulnerable populations in our children’s and grandchildren’s generations, evangelical women can no longer be silent. It’s a luxury to think whatever is going on doesn’t affect us: It’s not going to harm our family, it’s not going to harm our marriage, it’s not going to harm our position or our place in society. It’s actually a luxury of the privileged to stay silent and say, ‘I don’t have to care about it, and you shouldn’t either because that would make us feel uncomfortable.’ We can no longer elevate comfort over justice. The truth is, those days are behind us. At the core of our work, we are leading women spiritually. If we are unwilling to stand by our friends on the margins, then we have no business being leaders.”
~ Jen Hatmaker
New York Times Bestselling author
Pastor, Speaker and Podcast Host
“EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW”–these are the words written above the main entrance to the Supreme Court Building. Based upon this declaration, I hoped that the Supreme Court was comprised of the best legal minds in our country, who made impartial legal decisions that ensured all people in America received the promise of equal justice under the law. Unfortunately, I no longer believe this to be true. Instead, the Supreme Court of the United States has become a political entity that is currently being stacked with ideologues, who are uncompromising and dogmatic in their goal to use the court to support their personal and political agendas. This has eroded the very fabric of our democracy and the core of what has made the United States a great Nation. Lord, have mercy!
Although the current “Culture War” in our country seems to be for religious liberty, with abortion being at the center of this debate, the truth is we are actually fighting for the soul of our Nation and the promise of “liberty and justice for all.” History proves that the net effect of the “Culture War” results in the dismantling of protections won by the Civil Rights Movement, aided by a conservative Supreme Court. The historical data shows that the way to actually reduce abortions is to reduce poverty, not to reduce the liberties of poor people and people of color. Therefore, as a Christian leader, who is committed to the ministry of reconciliation, I urge all followers of Jesus to speak out against the collateral damage of the “Culture War” that undercuts the credibility of the gospel in a world that so desperately needs the healing and wholeness that only our God can bring.”
~Rev. Brenda Salter McNeil
Founder & President, Salter McNeil & Associates, LLC
Associate Professor & Director of Reconciliation Studies, Seattle Pacific University
Teaching Pastor, Quest Church, Seattle, Washington
“For too long, the national conversation around abortion and reproductive rights has been framed by the most extreme voices on either side. As a result, we are now facing the appointment of a judge to the Supreme Court who has been vetted not by the American Bar Association but by far-right organizations like the Federalists Society and The Heritage Foundation. The appointment of such a judge threatens to dismantle decades of protections won by the Civil Rights Movement, and ironically, could undo significant gains in poverty-reduction and healthcare that have resulted in the lowest abortion rate since the 1970s. This is why I join my fellow Christians in calling for a pause in the culture war. The lives and freedoms of religious minorities, people of color, LGBT citizens, and the poor are not acceptable collateral damage in an ideological struggle that has lost any connection to the real women and real children caught in its crossfire. We need to stop, think, and pray about the long-term affects a right-wing judge in a lifetime appointment would have on our neighbors for the next 10, 20, or 40 years.”
~Rachel Held Evans
“As a follower of Christ and a true Pro-lifer from the womb to the tomb. I urge Evangelicals Christians to question the collateral damage from the “Cultural War”. I encourage evangelicals to embrace the full gospel message to do justice and righteousness for all people. We must be committed in taking care of the marginalized and poor in our society. We cannot legislate morality then deny support, care and policies that would protect a child from birth to adulthood. We must extend care and address systemic issues from outside of the womb for all humanity. Abortion is at an all time low. We are succeeding in reducing abortion with a balanced court. We need bridge-builders that are committed to all Americans. We need a SCOTUS that are committed to the American people as priority not a President, partisanship or simply winning . America has made severe mistakes in the past. At one point in history the Supreme Court denied my Grandparents the right to vote even after serving our country in war. Segregated classrooms were the law of the land, slavery was legal and supported by the Supreme Court. We’ve made grave mistakes that lasted for generations. Past decisions have affected this country and communities deeply. We need a new and balanced future for generations to come. We need a SCOTUS that would aim to unite our country, be guided by love, stand for truth, upholding the law and integrity of the office for all Americans. This cannot be dictated by party affiliations.”
President and Founder of Be the Bridge
“For the sake of love, life, and the flourishing of Black and non-Black people of color, the culture wars must stop. The Supreme Court nomination must be chosen with care, wisdom, and great discernment, in order to ensure that the Civil Rights achievements established by those who fought valiantly for my right to vote and live a life absent from the tyranny of segregation is not upended. My posterity and that of every other person of color hangs in the balance. Our healthcare, voting rights, and education among others are in jeopardy. We will not sit by idly, as this regime attempts to place the yoke of white supremacy around our necks for perpetuity. We, Christian women of color, say ‘NO!’ The future belongs to those with the courage to speak truth; consequences be damned.”
~ Ekemini Uwan
“As an Evangelical woman committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ I believe that protecting life and protecting the vulnerable means to work towards a moral society that takes care of all people from conception until the end of their lives. The pro-life agenda, narrowly focused on protecting babies only while in the womb, has promoted policies that hurt women, children, and men, stripping away our civil liberties and access to opportunity. It is our moral duty as Christians to promote care for each other and opportunities for people of all races and genders to thrive. As an evangelical woman I will not support government policies that sacrifice the common good on behalf of a narrow ideology. Furthermore, we will continue to fight those who seek to co-opt the gospel for political gain. Jesus was clear: Protect the vulnerable, welcome the stranger, love thy neighbor.”
~ Maria-Jose Soerens
Founder, Puentes Advocacy
“As an evangelical woman, and a genuine womb-to-tomb-pro-life advocate, I resonate deeply with the call to PRESS PAUSE ON THE CULTURE WAR, and to replace Justice Kennedy with a TRUE INDEPENDENT JUSTICE that will protect the lives of all US citizens. I stand with those calling our US Senators to only approve a Justice that will care for ALL life, including those seeking protection from the fear and violence found in poverty and conflict both in and out of the womb. We raise our voices in prayer and fasting asking God to provide our land with leaders who believe all life is endowed with inalienable rights, and all life is by definition valuable.
The decisions of the Supreme Court have deep, long-standing impact on multiple facets of our shared life together in America. I pray we do not decide the make-up of this consequential Court in the name of winning a “war”. I pray we decide in the name of Love. I have worked in war-zones for too many years not to know fighting a war means only two things: one side is right, and the other side is wrong, and the “casualties of war” become acceptable as long as we are #winning. As evangelical women, we believe LIFE is not a zero-sum game. We are not willing to accept any life in our culture as a casualty. We are willing to humble ourselves and pray, to seek God’s face, to turn from our wicked ways, and to believe that God will heal our land. Evangelical silence on protecting all LIFE is not spiritual. It is surrender.”
~ Belinda Bauman
Executive Director, One Million Thumbprints
Visionary and Co-founder, #SilenceIsNotSpritual
“An ideologically independent SCOTUS nominee is imperative if Evangelicals in the U.S. are truly pro-life and not merely anti-abortion. Overturning Roe v. Wade will not reduce abortions but become a contributing factor in increasing poverty, dismantling Civil Rights, and literally moving the country back decades in terms of rights for people of color and specifically women of color. Criminalizing Abortion has become the Culture War’s rallying cry but the core of the Culture War has always been about white supremacy, for example protecting segregation as a matter of religious freedom. I hope my fellow evangelicals will call on our senators to support a more centrist nominee.”
Author of Raise Your Voice
“Having a multi-layered faith in that I’ve dabbled on both the ultra-conservative side and, now, the more liberal side of Christianity and politics, I can confirm there’s a middle ground. This is where policy and prayers form allegiance in truly seeing equality for all. Where we awake and take into account the importance of human life, as Richard Rohr says, “from womb to tomb.” Where light exposes all shadows and we act and live in accordance to how Jesus lived and loved: holy and wholly. As an evangelical and woman, I call us all into this space, now more than ever.”
~Breanna L. Sweeney
Soul City Church
Love Works Social Media Maven
“Mordecai urged Queen Esther to risk going before the King, “For such a time as this” to plead for the threatened Jewish community. We evangelical women leaders, especially those of us who are white, are called to risk for such a time. The protections won over the struggle for civil rights are at stake. The Culture Wars, starting with the Brown vs Board of Education (so much more than the Roe vs Wade issue) threaten divisive destruction of the very fabric of the nation and especially impact people of color. Our faith commitments to the common good and God’s love for all peoples compel us to action. So, I strongly commit to the evangelical women’s Call to Hit Pause on Culture War, asking our Senators to diminish the Culture War by voting for a moderate independent Justice, Fast and pray for discernment on ways to work together, Listen to the stories of people of color most impacted by the balance of the court, and Act to make a difference.”
~Dr. Mary Nelson, Executive Consultant
Parliament of the World’s Religions,
President Emeritus, Bethel New Life, Inc.
Faculty, ABCD Institute at DePaul University
“Bearing our own deep longing to protect the rights of unborn children, we must also acknowledge abortion’s place in a larger, multifaceted narrative: the poverty cycle. To love the unborn well, we must first love their mothers and communities. We must invest in women who have been forgotten and flooded by a sea of oppression. This is the everyday work of the gospel. As people of faith, it’s time to hit pause on America’s Culture War, spend time in prayer and fasting, and listen for the Spirit’s invitation to act.”
~ Katy Johnson
Master of Divinity student at Western Theological Seminary
Creative Director for the Brave On Conference
“I’m a mom by birth and adoption to white, black, and Asian children. I’m an evangelical speaker about disability inclusion in churches and other faith communities. I’m an advocate for the most vulnerable, as a disabled survivor of childhood abuse and sex trafficking myself. Because of all of who I am, I implore our leaders to nominate and confirm an independent justice to the Supreme Court, one with a track record of valuing the lives of all Americans, including immigrants and refugees, people with disabilities and preexisting health conditions, people of color, the entire LGBTQ+ community, Native Americans, religious minorities, and survivors of sexual, physical, emotional, and spiritual abuse.”
Managing Editor, SKEW
Activist, Journalist, and Poet
“As Christ followers we are called to stand for life, including the unborn, we are also called to support the marginalized, oppressed and those struggling to hold onto hope. And so, I believe we must press pause on the Culture War in America. It is time for deep circumspection as a new Justice is appointed. I invite you to join me in prayer and fasting as decisions are made that will impact generations of marginalized people in America for decades to come.”
Founder and Editor in Chief
Red Tent Living
“’Do not exploit the poor because they are poor and do not crush the needy in court’ (Proverbs 22:22) Too often, evangelicals have been identified with only two political concerns instead of representing the full heart of God. We need judges with a demonstrated commitment to justice for the poor, for those who are on the margins of our society but at the center of God’s concern. As our legislative leaders consider our President’s recommendation for the Supreme Court, we pray that they will ask the hard questions and not be content with unacceptable answers.”
~Rev. Alexia Salvatierra
Co-author, Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World (IVP)
“When polarization is used as a political strategy it ensures that only two starkly opposed sides are created with little nuance. These sides are pitied against each other and perpetually separated by propaganda. No one can actually can hear their neighbor beyond partisan talking points that make all of us caricatures. However, intentionally and courageously calling for a culture war cease-fire returns us to our calling of winning people, fighting principalities and resisting sin both personal and systemic. What does it mean to let our light shine within the darkness of political polarization? What does it mean to be people who are driven and guided by love and not fear? Maybe that looks like bold humility, eager repentance and reaching out sacrificially to the “other side” to find solutions that center all of the unheard and marginalized.”
~Christina Barland Edmondson, PhD
Calvin College, Dean for Intercultural Student Development
Co-host of Truth’s Table podcast
“Evangelical women have been co-opted by a push to become one-issue voters, and I believe this can and will have long-term consequences for a variety of marginalized and oppressed communities. I want to affirm the power of the God-given desire to uphold life while also saying that I believe this desire has been used for political purposes by one party to gain power. Now is the time to stop being a one-issue voter, and to think carefully about what the long-term consequences of a conservative Supreme court would be. I, along with many other evangelical women, long to see a world where human beings are treated as being made in the image of God. This includes upholding civil rights, religious liberty for all (not just Christians), having compassionate policies towards refugees and immigrants and having a consistent ethic which values life from the womb to the tomb.
I am urging my fellow evangelical women to pause, fast, discern–and to call your Senators and ask that they appoint a moderate independent Supreme Court Justice to uphold the balance of the court. I am asking us all to consider the importance of pausing the culture war in order to see entire communities flourish.”
Evangelical Activist and Author
“As a follower of Jesus and as a lawyer, I am deeply concerned about the appointment of a justice to take the place of Anthony Kennedy on the United States Supreme Court. I believe that our call as believers is to love and welcome the poor, the orphan, the immigrant, and other marginalized people. Unfortunately, over my 17 years of practice I have watched conservative justices, supported by conservative, evangelical voters, dismantle laws intended to protect those very individuals whom Jesus was most concerned for, and uphold laws and orders that disadvantage – and even keep out – those same people. I have watched as many believers have encouraged these results because they believe overturning Roe v. Wade is the most important thing the Court could do – even though data show a reduction in poverty is the only effective way to minimize abortions. Thus, many evangelicals have supported a strategy that ultimately will lead to an increase in abortions because of the destruction of a safety net for poor and marginalized people.
The Supreme Court should not be a political body used as a weapon in the current culture war happening in the United States. Instead the Supreme Court should be an objective, unbiased, moderate body that ensures the equal protection of all Americans. The only way to ensure this protection is to appoint a moderate, centrist judge to take Justice Kennedy‘s seat. I urge the Senate to refuse to confirm any justice who does not meet this criteria.”
Secretary, Love146 Board of Directors
Partner, Hinshaw & Culbertson, LLP
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