80 Religious Leaders To SCOTUS And Evangelicals: ‘Butt Out’ of Women’s Reproductive Health

Today the Supreme Court is hearing arguments in a case brought by evangelical Republicans and their Vatican facilitators to put an end to women’s choice across the nation. Regular readers of this column are likely used to reading that all of the attacks on women, and gays for that matter, are borne of neo-American Christians belief their dog-given duty is regulating the rest of the population. One of the things that boggle the mind are myriad polls, research and surveys revealing that the majority of Americans, including Christians, support women’s choice whether it is to terminate a pregnancy or use contraceptives. However, if that is really the case there is a dearth of pushback against the evangelical fanatics, religious Republicans, and Vatican acolytes by all those real Christians; until now.

Over this past weekend religious leaders across the country came together to “guide their congregations’ prayers toward protecting a woman’s right to access an abortion.” That is right: 80 religious leaders representing 20 denominations executed a concerted effort to protect women three days before the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear arguments regarding a religious Republican law in Texas to restrict virtually all access to abortion. What happened certainly verified the myriad polls, research, and surveys showing real Christians and Jews and Muslims do indeed support women’s reproductive rights because the reception to the religious leaders’ efforts was only positive, and “entirely organic.”

The well-planned “unified weekend of prayer” was organized by a religious organization, the Religious Institute that advocates for reproductive health in faith communities. The religious organization also drafted an amicus brief with 1,300 signatories from various religious groups’ leaders that adamantly oppose the Texas religious law the Supreme Court is hearing. The Religious Institute’s president, Debra Haffner said the weekend’s religious support for women’s reproductive health rights “is vital in altering the skewed public belief about how religious groups view abortion” in particular and women’s reproductive rights in general.

Haffner said, “I fear that once again the media stories will leave the impression that those who would deny women access to abortion services have a monopoly on faith; nothing could be further from the truth.” Instead, she said, “the majority of religious Americans support abortion rights” but complained that “a few radical religious groups drown out that fact” with their non-stop and increasing attacks on women’s health. The 80 religious leaders involved in organizing and participating in the weekend prayer said it is their duty and intent to finally shatter that belief.

Haffner’s sentiments were echoed by Leanne Gale from the National Council of Jewish Women. She said, “There’s (sic) a few reasons this is important to me. But a big one is that lawmakers need to know that we exist. We are a majority.” Gale said she received the loudest prayers from participants when she focused on a woman’s right to abortion access with many women thanking her after the services.

Gale acknowledged that her work for women’s rights is only a small part of a much larger movement

Connecting her with strong, multi-denominational communities. For communities of faith, we come to this issue from a commitment to justice. The fact that restrictions on abortion access disproportionately impact women struggling to make ends meet, women of color, and immigrant women flies in the face of what we understand as justice.”

One of those communities in the stronger multi-denominational group is the leader of the Light of Reform mosque in Washington D.C., Imam Daayiee Abdullah. The Imam said,

In some instances, religious people are so adamant that they know what’s right and what’s wrong that they become authoritarian. But in reality, the only true authority is the creator. If someone doesn’t agree with an idea, they have to take it up with God. It’s not their call. This is more about individuality and the respect of other’s free will than religious belief. It’s not a decision taken lightly, which we must respect.”

Abdullah focused his sermon on the difference between religious beliefs and the law, and reiterated that the abortion is not and should not be a deeply religious one.

A Denver preacher, Reverend Mitulski, actually concentrated on religion as the main focus of his “pro-choice Sunday sermon.” Reverend Mitulski said,  “We’re religious people, we’re not allowed to surrender our religion to take away women’s rights. Religion is the heart of the issue.” The Denver preacher’s congregation boasts a “high percentage of gay men,” and the reverend used history to “inspire solidarity in a demographic that is not affected by women’s reproductive health laws.” He said,

I reminded them how women were here for them during the AIDS epidemic, how they prayed and fought for them when they needed it the most. Now it’s time for them to help women in a time of crisis.”

Mitulski then exposed a rash of religious bills being proposed in Colorado that mirror the profane Texas anti-women laws. “We know it’s important for women to tell their stories about abortion, but it shouldn’t stop there. Allies also need to tell their stories of solidarity. I wish it wasn’t needed, but women shouldn’t have to face this alone.”

It is an incredibly encouraging sign that the 80 religious leaders representing 20 denominations came together to shine a light on the atrocity of a tiny minority of evangelical and Vatican fanatics and their Republican facilitators’ barbarism towards women in the name of religion; something that is forbidden in America. It is disappointing, though, that for all the religious leaders’ efforts the mainstream media were too busy giving all their attention to Republican presidential candidates who, as a group, advocate for, and promise to increase, using religion to assault women in general and their reproductive health in particular.

What this group effectively did was violate, in grand fashion, the unwritten law that no American dare cite religion as the basis for each and every religious Republican attack on American women; persistent attacks that women “should never have to face alone.” If the media would spend a fraction of the time reporting that most religious Americans oppose the attacks on women as they do deifying religious Republicans, no woman would have to face these never-ending religious Republican attacks again.