Saturday, March 19, 2005

Spiritual Battles

I consider the struggle for Terri Schiavo's life to be - aside from all the legal and moral issues surrounding the case - a spiritual battle. This is an epic struggle between the powers of Light and those of Darkness, one that will have serious consequences for this nation. As philosopher Edmund Burke was credited with stating in the 18th century: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

I spent some time this evening reading through the websites belonging to some of the largest Christian denominations in the country, both so-called mainline churches, as well as others like the Southern Baptists and Assemblies of God, and of course, the website of the Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church.

I wanted to read what each of them might have to say about the Terri Schiavo story. I was particularly interested to read what the mainline churches had to offer, since they preach 'Peace And Justice' issues to exclusion of nearly all else. What story in recent memory better exemplifies the need for moral clarity and justice?

I was, sadly, not surprised at much of what I found:

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA): nothing. They did offer ideas on how to decorate Easter Baskets, by making a donation to their World Hunger Appeal. But there's nothing at all about a fellow Christian woman in the United States being starved to death by her husband. A search of their website for 'Schiavo' returned zero matches.

Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS): nothing on the front page. A search of their site for 'Schiavo' returned two matches, one to something called Mercy Notes, which appears to be a fact-sheet written in February 2005, outlining the facts of Terri's situation, in clear language. It seems that, unlike their larger Lutheran sibling, some in the LCMS strongly condemn the killing of Terri Schiavo.

Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA): nothing. There is, however, a link to a page called Justice Is Yummy, celebrating the end of a boycott involving farmworkers. Apparently there's only just so much food-related justice to go around. A search of their website for 'Schiavo' returned one match, to a story on the importance of having a living will.

United Methodist Church (UMC): nothing. They are - and rightly so - upset about the lack of potable water in Mozambique. But there's nothing on their site about Terri Schiavo being denied hydration. A search of their news service for 'Schiavo' returned zero matches.

United Church of Christ (UCC): nothing. This offspring of the Congregationalist movement from the Reformed stream is one of the most liberal Christian denominations, heavily involved in 'Peace And Justice" issues. They do have a link on their main web page to news stories announcing "Taco Bell boycott ends victoriously," and "UCC leader says Focus on the Family's anti-tolerance stance 'leads to bullying on the playground." A search of their news service for 'Schiavo' returned zero matches.

The Episcopal Church in America (ECUSA): nothing. I went to their news service page, and still found nothing. The ECUSA does have priorities and concerns, however. They are very upset about the oil drilling set to begin in ANWAR that was approved by Congress this past week, and they have on their website lots of links to stories about churches conducting same-sex union blessings, of which they appear to approve. A search of their site for 'Schiavo' returned zero matches.

American Baptist Church (AMC): nothing. They appear quite proud of themselves - as they should be - for raising alot of money for Tsunami victims. But their policy statements on Death and Dying are troubling, at the very least. A search of their site for 'Schiavo' returned zero matches.

Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA): nothing. Their website homepage seems to be mostly devoted to communication with the faithful over issues related to church life. A search of their site for 'Schiavo' returned zero matches.

Mennonite Church USA: nothing. This is the grand-daddy of 'Peace And Justice' denominations, strongly anti-war and known for its stands on Social Justice issues. A search of their site for 'Schiavo' returned zero matches.

Assemblies of God (AG): nothing is mentioned on the main page, but when I entered 'Schiavo' in their search window, 184 links were displayed, mostly links to stories that appeared to be sympathetic to Terri's plight.

Southern Baptist Convention (SBC): multiple links to stories on the Terri Schiavo tragedy. The SBC appears to be supportive of Terri and her family.

Latter Day Saints (LDS): nothing. I realize that there is a great deal of controversy as to whether the LDS should even be included with Christian Churches, but I listed them here because they have 10 million members who at least wish to be known as Christians in the community-at-large. A search of their site for 'Schiavo' returned zero matches.

Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA): nothing. Like the LDS, the UUA is considered by most Christians to be so far outside the mainstream of Christianity as to cast serious doubts as to whether they should be included on a list of Christian Churches. The UUA itself would likely disassociate itself from most other Christian bodies. But they descend from the Congregationalist movement, and consider themselves to be great upholders of human and civil rights. Their main page celebrates a California court ruling supporting same-sex marriage, with several links to other stories on the subject; it appears they strongly approve. But a search of their site for 'Schiavo' returned zero matches.

The Florida Catholic Conference: links to the Bishop's statement about the Terri Schiavo affair, with multiple links on many aspects of the case.

The United States Conference of Cathlic Bishops: one link to a statement strongly supporting Congressional action to save the life of Terri Schiavo,

I could go on and on, listing other denominations but to what end? It's clear that the only large Christian bodies that care about the life and death of Terri Schiavo are the conservative evangelical churches and the Roman Catholic Church. The so-called mainline liberal protestants proclaim their commitment to 'Peace And Justice' issues with great sound and fury. But when it isn't a left-wing political cause in play, it would appear they have no opinions, at all.

Don't mistake my meaning. I am not saying there are no left-wingers who are just as outraged as I am by what is happening to Terri; there probably are. Left-wingers are quite sensitive to human rights issues. In addition to all the other angles, this story is a human rights story, too. And what's more, what is happening to Terri is a crime. Additionally, I don't mean to indict every member of those denominations. There are remnant faithful in most of them.

But my point is about the religious response from those who call themselves Christian. The information above clearly illustrates to me the ethical and moral torpitude of the mainline denominations. They cannot side with Terri in this fight because they long ago cast their denominational lots in with the Culture of Death in Western Society. Their denominational crusades for 'Peace and Justice' are a thin smokescreen for advancing a collectivist agenda for the future, the very agenda that brought us to the moral precipice we've been peering into in this country since January of 1973.

I can only take comfort in knowing that, while the leaders of the above-named offending denominations may never be called to account by men, they most certainly will have to answer to The Almighty. They will learn about True Justice on that day. And they will have to hope for some of the Mercy that is being denied Terri Schiavo.

12 comments:

greg said...

This is a remarkable post, muzzy. Hope you don't mind if I link to it. I was hoping someone would go this route.

Stacy said...

Agreed, wonderful post. At minimum, the Terri debate, will bring out truths many were unwilling to reveal.

Just Me said...

I followed a link from CQ and think you are very right in what you are saying.

I admit that this whole thing just gives me that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that this isn't compassion or the right thing to do, it is down right evil.


Granted I am a Christian and a member of one of the few churches that have taken a position, makes me proud to be a Southern Baptist at the moment, but makes me pretty sad that so many Christians have been suckered into believing what the world is feeding them.

Truthseeker said...

Came over from CQ and was sorry to see so many Main Line Denominations AWOL from this spiritual battle. I wonder what the MLD members will do when it is there turn to have their food and water denied when they are considered useless to society. Guess that will help fix Social Security! Good post!

Anonymous said...

This is a shaming post. I'm glad to see my Catholic church is doing the right thing, but the Christian churches by and large are falling down on the job. And yet, the press is telling us that this is a religious matter.

winston7000 said...

Why am I not surprised? As a recovering Liberal, I know that all of the mainline Protestant churches are out on their global quest to save humanity (whether or not it wishes to be saved by them), and therefore do not have the time for human beings.

Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeff said...

In case you were wondering about the Disciples of Christ (disciples.org) -- and why would you? -- here's their internal Google on "Schiavo":

http://www.google.com/custom?q=Schiavo&sa=Search&cof=LW%3A700%3BL%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.disciples.org%2Fimages%2Fsimplechalice.gif%3BLH%3A54%3BAH%3Acenter%3BS%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.disciples.org%3BAWFID%3A8c15fa3d46f39653%3B&domains=disciples.org%3Breconciliationmission.org%3Bchurchextension.org%3Bnewchurchministry.org%3Bpensionfund.org%3Bdhedisciples.org%3Bobrahispana.org%3Bnbacares.org%3Bchurchfinancecouncil.org%3Bhomeland.org%3Bcbp21.org&sitesearch=disciples.org

Anonymous said...

The LCMS *is pro-life*. However, its energies are being taken up with an anschluss attempt by Willow Creek.

ELCA, on the other hand, has, on the denominational level, abandoned the faith once handed down to the saints.

Anonymous said...

The most shocking truth: that the Christians and Republicans who are so worked up by Terri are far from consistant in LIFE ISSUES. NEVER have they worked hard to make sure that a death row inmate who could be cleared by new evidence was not killed. NEVER have they fought for the health care of the millions in this country (many children) who have none. NEVER do they mention that President Bush signed a bill in Texas that allows a hospital to stop life support (including those just like Terri) if the family cannot pay and EVEN IF THE FAMILY OBJECTS. NEVER have they fought so hard to put BIG FEDERAL GOVERNMENT into our lives, frorgetting state's rights.

I want to see real concern about life, not political puffing for the evening news.

From a proud ELCA pastor whose church stands up for life, the poor, and who (unlike our brothers and sisters in the LCMS) have made social positions and theological laws that are far, far outside the confessions of the reformation.

Anonymous said...

For the proud ELCA pastor, and author of the tortured writing in the final paragraph of the previous Anonymous Post:

I maintain that your cries of hypocrisy against conservatives are a smokescreen, sir. Rather than trying to make the issue about whether conservatives will kowtow to your liberal agenda, the question for you is a simple one: are you in favor of the court-sanctioned murder of Terri Schiavo, or not? Yes? Or no?

The fact that you took the time to comment here did nothing to contradict the point of the piece: that your denomination is not willing to speak out against Terri's murder. Apparently, neither will you. That is to the ELCA's - and your - shame.

As for the denomination: the ELCA, as a body, was a moribund mutt from the moment it was created. With its appalling ecumenism-at-any-price, and its hell-bent drive to sanction same-sex marriage and ordination, the ELCA will soon enough manage to split the creaky church that was cobbled together from its disparate pieces less than 20 years ago.

Fact is, the leadership of the ELCA in Chicago marches lockstep with the leftist secularist movement. It has become the religious arm of the left wing of the Democrat party.

Your church is in dire need of a new Reformation, but if Martin Luther himself were to come back from the dead, he'd need a whole lot more than merely 95 theses to nail to the doors at Higgins Road.

BTW, I am a prolife Christian who is against the death penalty, and I have no problem with religious bodies wanting to help the poor. But I insist you stop trying to use the tax base to do what ought to be the work of the church. Convince your members to tithe, and you'd have no reason to be constantly sticking your hand in the public till to keep your 'charitable' projects going.

Anonymous said...

For the person who left their comments for me...

Did you really read my post? How can you accuss me of being a liberal or a conservative? What does the tax base have anything to do with what I said? The ELCA is the religious arm of the Democrats? Most Democrats do not even know what a Lutheran is. If the ELCA is the religious arm of Democrats, the LCMS is the religious arm of the Repulblicans. Truth is Jesus, Paul, or Luther where not Democrats, Republicans, or even Americans.

The ELCA has a statement on end of life issues, it reads in part:

Our faith as Christians informs and guides us in approaching personal and public decisions about death and dying today. Among the convictions that orient us are:

life is a gift from God, to be received with thanksgiving;

the integrity of the life processes which God has created should be respected; both birth and death are part of these life processes;

both living and dying should occur within a caring a community;

a Christian perspective mandates respect for each person; such respect includes giving due recognition to each person's carefully considered preferences regarding treatment decisions;

truthfulness and faithfulness in our relations with others are essential to the texture of human life; and,

hope and meaning in life are possible even in times of suffering and adversity; a truth powerfully proclaimed resurrection faith of the church.

(see www.elca.org and search "end of life" to see the whole statement.)

I am proud to be a part of a larger church that allows people to think, pray and respond to God - rather than insists that all members and people of the world must believe whatever the church says. A church that understands that people are saints and sinners. A church that preaches GRACE and does not abuse LAW by becoming judgmental.

I believe that one of the most worst aspects of of the Terri Schiavo case, is that her dignity and privacy have been stolen from her and she has become an object to be used BY ALL rather than a human. I respect that everyday in this country millions of people make medical decisions that are hard. It is difficult to know what is right - should you withdraw oxgen? Should you not give someone morphin because it also can impair their heart? Do you make a person take chemo even if they don't want to? Do you force someone onto the transplant list? Terri's "murder" is no different than the baby in Texas who died this week because the hospital decided the family couldn't afford continued care so they disconnected life support even though the family objected. They could do that because President Bush signed the law in Texas when he was governor. Where is the outrage? Where is the call for life? Where was the FEDERAL intervention? I am tired of republicans and democrats that seem to be more concerned with politics and poll ratings than being moral and just.

It is apparent that you are familar with the ELCA and Lutheranism. The ELCA is a human organization as is every human organization. No one in the ELCA would sanely argue any other position. The leaders of the church have made good and bad decisions. But the major issues mentioned have been approved by church-wide assemblies of people (over 2/3 of which are laity) who vote and believe that God guides them.

Finally, although I made no mention of the tax base or government funds for my "charitable" projects and even argued my concern over BIG FEDERAL GOVERNMENT - it would not negate Luther's understanding of the community chest to be used to care for those in need, which of course would have been a partnership between the church and government since Luther had no idea what seperation of church and state would mean.

I am still a proud ELCA pastor who, like the ELCA, upholds the confessions of the church and does not add to them the theological and political agendas that the LCMS does.