Evangelical outrage over the Komen Foundation debacle–making sure we’re not hypocrites
Over the past week the decision and then reversal of the Komen Foundation to stop funding Planned Parenthood has received waves of attention from people on both sides of the abortion debate. From the Evangelical camp there has been massive outrage at the reversal of the Komen Foundation’s decision that has been expressed in a variety of ways. While many of the points made in the virtual ink and voice box juice that have been spilled in the last week have been valid (Planned Parenthood is under congressional investigation, they did flex their political muscles to force the reversal, they are the largest provider of abortions, and they do try to paint themselves as something else) none of these are the focus of this post. The focus of this post is to challenge us, the Evangelical community, to make sure we’re not hypocrites.
The Daily Caller’s Mary Katharine Ham joked that Planned Parenthood is “The Hotel California of charitable donations.” Abortion rights supporter Will Wilkinson said it appeared Planned Parenthood was “throwing its weight around, knocking a few pieces of china off the shelves, sending a message to its other donors: ‘Nice foundation you got there. Wouldn’t want anything to, you know, happen to it.'” While the short-term gains are indisputable—Planned Parenthood won a qualified reversal from Komen, reaffirmed their support in the mainstream media and had a field day with fundraising—the long-term gains are not. Bullying is not a good long-term fundraising strategy.
This sentiment has been echoed in multiple pieces written by Evangelicals. There is an outcry over the bullying tactics of Planned Parenthood to get their way. But what is hidden (or sometimes not so hidden) in these pieces is that the greatest point of tension is not that Planned Parenthood could do this, but that Evangelicals can’t. This is expressed by Russell D. Moore in his article, The Pink Ribbon and the Dollar Sign. (In the context Moore is not necessarily agreeing with what follows here, but is articulating a position.)
Some pro-life persons might wish that the Christian churches had as much influence in the public arena as Planned Parenthood, that we were able to mobilize as many callers and threaten as many boycotts. Some might see this as a sign that we need more money and respect. After all, if some Christian foundation had more financial firepower than Planned Parenthood, Komen might have stood firm.
Evangelicals criticize Planned Parenthood for their thug-like approach to making Komen submit to their will, and rightly so, but we must ask the question if Evangelicals are not subject to their own criticism on this point. Just because we have less political/cultural/financial clout does not mean we are innocent in our approach to matters like this one. The question is, if we had the political/cultural/financial clout to force Komen into bowing to our will would we use it in the same way? If so our criticism of Planned Parenthood fails at this point (I am not addressing overall criticism, only criticism of how they handled this situation).
But some may object, the practice of abortion is so horrendous that it should be stopped by any means necessary. I wonder if this doesn’t betray a lack of faith in the power of God and a lack of willingness to submit to the Way of Jesus. Jesus instructs us to love our enemies and pray for them. He taught and lived a kind of power that is found through service rather than forced submission. At its very core the gospel is about love and sacrifice, not manipulation and forced submission to our desires. The methods used by Planned Parenthood to force Komen into submission are far from biblical–as we might expect.
Now I am not advocating that we stand by and do nothing. Abortion is far too important an issue for that. But if we believe in the God we claim, then we believe that he can accomplish more through his power than we can in our own. We should be on our knees before him crying out for justice for the unborn who can’t. We should pursue change in policies and laws, but we should do with the same attitude as Jesus–in a way that is blameless and pure, not manipulative and pushy.