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[COMMENT: I have known Samuel Edwards for years, a leader in the Episcopal Church who was put through the mill by totalitarian forces who did not want him ministering in their diocese (Washington, DC). I shared some of those experiences with him in his parish, Christ Church in Accokeek, Maryland, several years ago when I was living in Alexandria, Virginia. I began attending his church, which was under siege from the bishop pro-tem of DC, Jane Dixon. (See Episcopal Church and do a search on "Edwards" for other articles by him.)
He is writing to his extended family, as I have often to mine, raising the moral, spiritual, and political issues of our time. He here puts before them the issues of voting in the 2008 presidential election. As Joshua challenged the Israelites on their entry into Canaan, "Choose this day whom you will serve.... But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord our God...."
Edwards does not come out and say so, but the implication is
that we face a terrible moral dilemma, that our choices of candidates for
President (and no doubt many other offices) are a choice between two evils in a
manner we have never before faced. I agree.
October 31, 2008
“I tremble for my country when I consider that God is just.” -- Thomas Jefferson
Not only is this is a difficult letter to write, I have not particularly wanted to write it. Not the least reason for this is that, at this late stage in our electoral process, I suspect that it may not have much of an effect, except maybe either to mildly irritate or mildly amuse some of you. Some of you may already have voted, so the sole value of the letter may be informational. If you wish, you may consider it a discardable missive from your nutty relative, and you need not make any response at all, but I do ask you to read it through to the end. If you should wish to respond, I’d also ask you to apply the “PBS” (“pray before sending”) and “SOI” (“sleep on it”) principles when doing so.
I am aware that so far as political affiliation is concerned, I am most likely in a minority among you. Many of you are Democrats, some are Independents, and few are Republicans. But that’s really of little moment in the end, since all of us are family and that family is both American in nationality and Christian in profession, so we share both an earthly and a heavenly citizenship. It is on that three-fold basis that I beg your indulgence and your consideration.
Let me begin by explaining as briefly as I can why I ceased being a member of the Democratic Party a quarter-century ago. Broadly speaking, it is the same reason once given by the public figure who, more than any other, influenced my own examination of my basic political principles and their application to the relationship between state and society: Asked why he had left the Democratic Party, Ronald Reagan replied that, “I didn’t leave the Party; the Party left me.”
I might also add that the party left itself, probably beginning sometime in the latter third of the 19th century when its intensifying romance with the Progressive movement (which was no more genuinely progressive than the Enlightenment was genuinely enlightening) began the process which moved it away from its original Jeffersonian dedication to the ideal of a limited government that would do only what it had to do and toward an embrace of the idea of omni-competent centralized state – the kind that was Jefferson’s worst nightmare – the kind that, because it could give you everything you want, can take everything you have – the kind that, because it can bail out your bank account, can empty it as well.
Important as that and other issues were, they were not finally decisive in my switch in affiliation. There was one over-arching reason I could no longer identify myself as a Democrat – even a Reagan Democrat – and that was the party’s embrace of abortion under the smokescreen of “choice.” Which brings me, at last, to the central focus of this letter, which is to plead with you not to give your vote to Barack Obama.
In the final analysis, this is not about the Senator’s <> economic policies, though I do find those dangerous, foolish and reminiscent of the mistakes made by Herbert Hoover and compounded by Franklin Roosevelt in response to the last century’s economic meltdown – measures which worsened the problem and contributed the Depression’s lasting three times longer here than it did anywhere else in the world.
<> his mendacity concerning his associations with unrepentant domestic terrorists and racist preachers, as much as that concerns me.
<> his declared willingness to sit down and negotiate without preconditions with leaders whose declared intent is to destroy both us and our Israeli allies, though that does remind me of the willingness of one Neville Chamberlain to do the same with another tyrant who had made no secret of his intentions.
<> his Carteresque approach to foreign and military policy, which will invite the “testing” his own running mate says will come and which is of particular concern to us in this household, as it will intensify the already significant probability that our own son will have to be put in harm’s way.
<> his race, which is the same as that of all the other candidates – namely, human. I’ve voted in primary elections three times for Ambassador Alan Keyes out of the (continuing) conviction that he would make a better President than Bob Dole, George Bush, or John McCain. I couldn’t care less about the melanin content of Senator Obama’s skin cells. My concern is with the content of his character at the very point where it counts the most.
In the final analysis, my recommendation is based on the demonstrable fact that Barack Obama is the most radically pro-abortion candidate ever to be fielded by a major political party in this, perhaps in any, country. [Read Robert George’s article, “Obama's Abortion Extremism” at http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com] He accepts no restrictions on abortion at any stage, which includes not just the gruesome procedure commonly known as “partial birth abortion” (the description of which I will spare you, since I assume you are reasonably well-informed citizens) but even parental notification statutes regarding minors which have the support of a clear majority of Americans, regardless of their position on abortion as such. He has solemnly promised to sign the so-called Freedom of Choice Act, which would effectively repeal all existing state limitations on abortion and all exemptions for institutions and persons who conscientiously object to involvement with it.
But it gets worse: Senator Obama also has opposed legislation to require that medical care be given to children who actually survive late-term abortion attempts – legislation which, not to put too fine a point on it permits them to be carried off and left to die of neglect. This is to all intents and purposes the reintroduction of the pagan practice of the exposure of infants, which was opposed by Christians from the very beginning.
There is no credible excuse that I can imagine for this, and Senator Obama’s principal justification – that the legislation proposed might have undermined a woman’s freedom of choice - explains a lot, but excuses nothing. It explains that, for all the putting-people-first rhetoric, this either is a man who will let the weak and defenseless die for the sake of an ideology, or one who permits the definition of the human person be determined by someone’s perceived usefulness to someone else by someone else.
Is this political position of mine based on faith? Of course it is. So is Senator Obama’s: just a different faith (and, no, I don’t mean Islam, which is also opposed to abortion). The radical separation of politics and religion is impossible. If my faith has no influence on my politics, then my faith IS politics. If my politics does not express my faith, then all it expresses is me. If a man tells me what he believes, I can with a fair degree of accuracy tell you how he will act. If I observe how he acts, then I can with a fair degree of accuracy tell you what he really believes.
Senator Obama’s actions tell me that what he believes is that we can define reality for ourselves and that we can evade the consequences of our actions. Regardless of his religious profession, he – like all too many professing Christians, Jews, and Muslims in this country – is functionally atheistic, which means not that he verbally denies the existence of God, but that he does not act as if he is or should be ultimately accountable to him. (Beyond that, as a consequence of it, and in common with all modern leftists, his notion of equality ultimately means the equality that exists between the worker ants in the anthill.)
As the quote at the beginning of this letter – from a man that I am convinced I would not have liked very much personally – should tell you, I do not think that way. I believe that the right to life is the foundational right, without which no other right can exist for individuals and in the absence of which all other rights will gradually cease to exist for society as a whole. This is not rocket science, beloved: If we begin to make exceptions, where do we stop, and on what immovable basis?
We cannot consider Senator Obama’s position on abortion something that can be overlooked in the interests of his other policies which we think would benefit our country. To my mind, that would put us in the company of those otherwise decent, law-abiding Germans who were willing to overlook the Nazis’ murderous designs and acts because, after all, they made the trains run on time and put lots of people to work.
I also believe, with Saint Paul, who expressed but did not invent the idea, that God is not mocked. Our nation’s current financial meltdown may well have as one of its natural causes the nearly 50 million abortions committed in this country over the thirty-five years since Roe v. Wade was decided. In a column about this for our local paper this January, I wrote,
"… The latest statistics I have been able to find on the total number of abortions are compiled from separate sets of figures kept by the federal Centers for Disease Control and the Alan Guttmacher Institute (educational arm of Planned Parenthood, the world’s largest abortion provider). These statistics indicate that a total of 48,589,993 abortions have been performed in the United States since 1973.
"That figure remains merely a statistic until you start comparing it to other figures. That figure is about the same as the total population of our two most populous states – California and Texas.
"It is more than the populations of half of the world’s 50 most populous countries.
"It is slightly more than the total estimated number of civilian casualties in World War II and is a bit less than twice the number of military casualties in that most bloody of conflicts.
"If you had a penny for each of these 48,589,993 abortions and stacked them in one column, it would be 35.6 miles tall. (That is nearly three times the vertical distance between the deepest point in the ocean and the peak of Moun t Everest.) "If you laid your pennies side by side, they would form a line 575 miles long. If you laid them out in a solid circle, it would be almost 492 feet across and over 1544 feet in circumference.
"If you deposited them in your bank, you would be $485,589.93 richer. That might be useful for dealing with some of the impending problems connected with the non-events those pennies represent. Please bear with me in some rough-and-ready calculations.
"Assume that each of the 48,589,993 pregnancies terminated had instead resulted in a live birth. Assume that 95% of these children (46,160,493) had lived to adulthood. Assume further that 60% of them (27,696,295) had entered the work force.
"Assume that each paid a total of $100,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes into the Treasury during an average working life of 30 years. The total paid would have been $2,769,629,500,000. That’s two TRILLION seven hundred sixty-nine BILLION six hundred twenty-nine and a half MILLION dollars that never will make it into the social safety net. That would pay for a lot of pensions and prescriptions.
"Sometime House Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas was fond of saying that, 'what goes around, comes around.' The perception is hardly new; indeed, it is ancient and universal, crossing all cultural and religious boundaries, honored in and by all societies save those that are in decline: There is the proverb that says that you can dance to whatever tune you like, but you still have to pay the piper. There is the saying that there is no such thing as a free lunch. There is the persistent warning that those who sow the wind will reap the whirlwind.
"What has been going around now is coming around. The only way to avoid it is by turning around."
Think the legalization and encouragement of euthanasia is not even going to be considered as a response to dwindling government entitlement revenues? Look at Washington State and California. Look at the Netherlands, where the doctor now gets to decide – even over the objections of the family – whether someone’s quality of life such that it is no longer worth continuing and can be actively brought to an end. How far are we, really, from a Planned Grandparenthood advocating “every gran a loved and wanted gran”?
God is not mocked, and the guarantee that each of us has a personal accounting to render to him in our future is unavoidable and universally applicable: There are no exceptions for persons and there are no exempt categories for action. And we have no knowledge of the amount of time we have in which to act. Please consider all this before you make your final choice next month.
Yours in Christ Jesus,
Samuel L. Edwards
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