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Friday, September 05, 2008

I'm proud of The Episcopal Church

Well, there is abundant evidence that the Evangelical base in The Episcopal Church has been "energized" by Lady Palin's nomination as VEEP.

It's already started on HOB/D - the House of Bishops/Deputies listserv.

One of our esteemed members wrote that she was "ashamed" of the Episcopal Church's stand on abortion and our decision to continue supporting our membership in the National Coalition of Religious Choice.

She pulled my last nerve. Actually, she signed her name, adding that she was, "a sinner" - which really pulled my absolute last nerve.

Which means, I wrote this:

As a Christian who is privileged to be an Episcopal priest and equally privileged to be President of the New Jersey chapter of the Religious Coalition of Religious Choice, I couldn't be more proud of my church for its compassionate, pro-life stand.

Yes, I said PRO-LIFE. Even a quick read of the official position of TEC will leave no doubt that we, as a church, are supportive of the life of the embryo / fetus, the life of the mother, and the life of the family.

I am proud of my church that it, like I, and like many, many Episcopalians abhor abortion as a method of birth control - which is crystal clear after reading our position on abortion and our decision to fund the RCRC (let those who have ears, hear . . . and intellect, think).

I am proud of my church that we have resisted the emotionally manipulative pictures of abortion and pre-term abortion which are tragically necessitated by the harsh realities of those involved.

I am proud that my church does not use equally horrific pictures of heart or other organ transplant procedures, coronary artery by-pass, or gruesome laser eye surgery to deter decisions about these life-saving and life-giving surgical measures.

I am proud of my church that, in an age that continues to devalue the life of a woman, where even as I write this, some women in developing nations are undergoing. . . hmm.... what is is the term our brother ***'s used . . . ah, yes . . ."gruesome" . . . female genital mutilation so that she will remain "faithful" to her emotionally insecure and socially and spiritually immature husband because she will no longer be able to "enjoy" intimate, sexual relationship with him and therefore will not be unfaithful (as he will, undoubtedly be - but, that is blessed as socially-sanctioned and economically necessary polygamy), respects the dignity of every woman to make a choice about - and, control over - what is happening in her own body - including the embryonic life therein.

I am proud of my church that every woman - yes, including the life of a woman who is a priest, married or not, - can make the painful, awful, life-determining decision about whether or not she can make a commitment to the embryonic life she carries in her body, depending on the opinion of her physician and pediatrician, her assessment, based on the opinion of the probability of the support of the father of her potential child, and the ability of her family and community to support her decision.

I am proud of my church which understands that issues of grinding poverty and poor access to quality health care and education for women, coupled with the debilitating effects of racism, sexism and heterosexism. supports the . . . what was the term our brother *** used . . . ah, yes . . . "inhumane" . . . decision of a woman to determine the direction of her own life.

I am proud of my church which understands that the advance of diagnostic procedures still falls far behind the information needed to make a timely decision about the lifelong commitment to a new life, necessitating the "pre-term" (aka "partial abortion"), which, at this point in time, is perfectly legal and, therefore, cannot be called "murder" - any more than the execution of a profoundly retarded person who has committed murder.

I am proud that I, like so many, many LGBT people and our straight allies, have chosen to be foster parents to - or adoptive parents of - the live, full term, delivered human lives of those "defective" children which our heterosexual brothers and sisters have chosen not to abort, but not to take responsibility for, except to depend on the fiscal generosity of "the State" and "the kindness and generosity of strangers."

I am proud of those adoptive parents who have made the life-time commitment to "someone else's child" which includes, as we have just gone through (in August, while I was at Lambeth), serious surgery to reattach the retina of our beloved Katie who was 'slugged' by another profoundly handicapped (male) adult child because she resisted his sexual advancement and is now permanently blind in that eye. We adopted her at age 4. She's now 30. She is, and forever will be, our child, even though she was birthed, but not aborted, by another women and her husband.

I am proud that The Episcopal Church supports the sex education which is championed by NCRC to avoid pregnancy in the first place, including the choices of abstinence, birth control, and, if tragically necessary, abortion.

I am proud that The Episcopal Church respects the "dignity of every human being" in our baptism covenant and prays, during that baptism, that the child receives "the gift of wonder of all of God's creation."

I am proud of The Episcopal Church and our baptismal covenant, which is not replicated throughout the World Wide Anglican Communion and, perhaps, ought to be.

What greatly distresses me is that there are those who would triumph the simplicity of their own state of sin so that others might feel guilty about the difficulty and complexity of the reality of their own morality.

Here's the real reason I wrote what I wrote.

Thank God we live in a democracy, and not a theocracy.


Kirkepiscatoid said...

...and let the people say, "Amen."

You go, girl!

It is like when people give me hell for being on the local Planned Parenthood board. I like to point out I am VERY pro-life. I want rural Missouri women to be able to have access to what they need to plan the size of family they wish to have.

Until just recently, no pharmacies in NE Missouri would carry the "morning after" pill; women who could not get to Planned Parenthood during normal business hours within the 48 hour time frame would have to drive NINETY miles to get the morning after pill. How "pro life" is that. What is it that says where a woman happens to live should dictate what happens in her life following a contraceptive failure or a night of just plain making a mistake?

These people are not about to co-opt the phrase "pro-life" on my watch (or yours!)

Leonardo Ricardo said...

I think you covered that nicely...I may not be able to sleep as you "got me going" too!

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Amen from me too, Elizabeth.

I used to work as a Planned Parenthood clinic escort. I once heard a clinic director say "Americans are against abortion in cases of rape, incest...and their own personal circumstances."

She had found (and I saw in my work there) that people's rhetoric was one thing---but when they were touched by the challenge of an unplanned pregnancy (or a devastating diagnosis for a planned one), they were quite often relieved to have the CHOICE.

The moral of the story is that we have no business judging things that so intimately affect people's lives---and for which we, as the self-appointed judges, have no responsibility for the outcome. God will judge, and---as Louie Crew so often says---God's property is always to have mercy.

I trust God a whole lot more than I do the U.S. government. And I'm grateful that my church feels the same way.


PseudoPiskie said...

There is little pro-life about the "Pro-Lifers". They are simply anti-abortion. They could care less about the already living. They would sacrifice a healthy woman for an unhealthy fetus. They would sacrifice an infant who has little or no chance of survival to a "life" of constant medical intervention only to die eventually. They would sacrifice an unwanted born child to abuse, addiction or other horrors. They would sacrifice families and friends when mistakes in judgment are made. And they will not admit that they want to sit in eternal judgment on a woman who makes that mistake. They refuse to acknowledge the male responsibility for an unwanted pregnancy. Anti-abortionism simply is misogyny in disguise.

Jayne said...

Thank you so much for this piece. I am also so very proud to be an Episcopalian for all the reasons you state.

scott said...

Brava, Mother Keaton! i read your post on the HoB/D list, and the various responses (i'm a kibitzer). After reading one muddled diatribe against your post, i looked up the Guttmacher Institute. So predictable that an everpresent HoB/D naysayer ignored that Guttmacher reports the rate of abortion is lowest in developed countries with safe and legal abortion available. And i don't know how he manipulated Guttmacher's statistics to get his false claim about black women. Goes to show that it's easy to ignore actual facts when you're obsessed with your own preconceptions.

i'm proud of our church, too.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Scott.

You know, my real question is, what are these folk doing about their beliefs? Instead of fighting against abortion, what are they doing to prevent abortion or to support - REALLY support - those women who choose to carry their pregnancy to full term.

Blah, blah, blah.

They can talk the talk, but can they walk the walk?

Someone else wrote that 77% of the leadership of anti-abortion/pro-life organizations are men. 100% of them will never have an abortion.

Grace said...


I'm sorry that you are feeling in this way. But, I don't see that your post is describing me, or most people that I've known involved in pro-life concerns.

I'm quite pro-life, and certainly care very much about the "living." For the past several years, my whole vocation has been to work with needy kids, and their families. My husband, and I were foster parents for several years.

I'm now involved as a social worker connected with our local Children and Youth Services, working to protect kids, and helping families in crisis, and poverty.

Hey, I'm not sharing this to "toot my own horn." We could all be doing alot more.

But, to my mind, there is a huge connection in how we value, and protect the "least of these," unborn children, and the sanctity of human life in general.

I think the church needs to develop a consistent life ethic across the board.

Donna said...

I never thought I'd see the day when the Episcopal Church would not stand up for the unborn. It makes me very sad and has me seeking a truly pro-life church.
Life is so very precious. I thank God every day for the gift of life and it's a gift that I hate to see taken from so many.
May we all see beyond ourselves, and walk in His love.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hi, Donna. I'm genuinely sorry you feel this way and are leaving TEC but I am genuinely thankful for your irenic tone and for the courage to leave your name.

FWIW, I think the language of "the unborn" and "prolife" need to be reexamined. I mean, what is the opposite of "unborn"? "Undead"? I get your point but the language is clunky and, in fact, inaccurate. A miscarriage isn't an "unborn". It's a collection of cells.

And, if we're going to be "prolife" then why limit that word to reproduction. What about the life of people who are poor? To people who have been falsely committed who sit on on death row? To the health and eduction of children - especially children who live in poverty?

I wish you well as you search for a new church.

Elizabeth Lamb said...

My husband and I regret the decision to end our baby's life 7 yrs ago. It was selfish and the biggest trauma of our lives. We have nightmares, we cry. There is no blessing to come from abortion. It has been the hardest thing to get over. The opposite of "unborn" is obviously the "born." The living. The real blessings. No choice could ever compare to what we missed out on...

I am also saddened that the church I was baptised in has such a controversial stance on the sanctity of life. Is the Catholic Church really my only hope for a true pro life church??

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Elizabeth - I'm sorry for your experience. Women who have a miscarriage often feel the same way. My mother's first pregnancy ended in a stillbirth. She never got over it. She named the baby "Nancy" and we would often visit her grave.

I don't know how far along you were when you chose to have an abortion. I'm assuming it was less than 20 weeks. That "life" would not have been able to sustain itself after birth.

The thing is that you have a "choice" not to have another abortion. It's not the right "choice" for you. Please don't presume to make that "choice" for others. Be "pro life" for the life of any woman who needs to make a "choice" for herself - even if she, like you, one day regrets her decision.

It's her life. It's her choice.