I don't question the good intentions of those drafting the statement. And unlike some, I don't question their pro-life sentiments. But are Biblically informed pro-lifers unreasonable to remain skeptical of the President's plan? Consider the following parable.
It’s 1860. The President of the United States is pushing a controversial economic recovery package that will provide government subsidies to plantation owners struggling to make ends meet. The President has a point: Statistics show that 400,000 southern farms are without an economic safety net and thus face bankruptcy or foreclosure in the near feature. Should that collapse happen, mounting personal losses would adversely impact the national economy. To press the point further, the President invokes Biblical commands to love our neighbors and recruits sympathetic clergy to convey that view to the faithful.
There’s a rub, however. Although the President denies it, multiple sources—both independent and political— confirm that his economic recovery plan would allow government funds for the purchase of slaves. Collectively, the nation’s newspapers—universally sympathetic to the President’s views—come to the same conclusion though it bears little on their eager support for the plan. Meanwhile, congressional members who support slavery have commanding majorities in both the House and Senate. They see the practice as essential to any recovery plan. The President’s political position is near impregnable: He doesn’t need a single vote from the opposing party to pass his plan. Moreover the speaker of the House insists that any plan for economic recovery must fund the purchase of slaves as a necessary part of jumpstarting the Southern economy. If need be, he’s prepared to force a straight party line vote to get the desired result. All indications are he can deliver on his promise. Indeed, the legislative committee considering the President’s recovery plan voted down every single amendment that contained specific language forbidding the use of funds for slavery.
As for the President, his views on slavery are undeniable. While a senator in the Mississippi state house, he thrice voted to deny legal protection to any slave who escaped his master and sought refuge in a neutral territory. As a Presidential candidate, he emphatically assured the nation’s leading pro-slavery group—Planned Laborhood—that his first act as President would be to sign the Freedom of Ownership Act, which would overturn all meaningful restrictions on slavery. He repeatedly stated that slave ownership was an essential economic right. During his first week as President, he issued an executive order funding the acquisition of slaves in foreign countries. One month later, he overturned existing funding restrictions on using slaves for medical experiments.
Despite these facts, the President—without a shred of evidence—calls anti-slavery advocates opposing his plan liars. In an unprecedented move, he submits a written speech to Congress insisting that his plan does not fund the acquisition of slaves, though again he does nothing to refute the specific charge—attested to by multiple sources—that his plan does in fact do just that. Two weeks later, he gets a valuable assist when The Southern Baptist Convention signs a statement urging clergy of all faiths to follow its lead in endorsing the President’s plan. The White pastors drafting the statement insist they are anti-slavery, but take the President at his word that the practice will not be funded.
Their statement reads in part as follows:
"Based on our understanding of the Holy Scriptures it is not only our mandate to encourage men and women to come into right relationship with their Creator, but also to proclaim and advocate justice and compassion throughout all creation.
'Open your mouth for the speechless,
In the cause of all who are appointed to die.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And plead the cause of the poor and needy.'
Prov 31:8-9 NKJV
We are here today to speak on behalf of millions of Americans who cannot afford or obtain adequate economic provisions. In this the richest country in the world 400,000Americans are without an economic safety net. Because of this, they and their children face untold hardship and unnecessary suffering. Millions more will soon face similar challenges. In the midst of this crisis, they face limited economic opportunities that leave them exposed and unable to meet the needs of their families.
The Southern Baptist Convention calls upon the other major White denominations, and our brothers and sisters of all races in their major denominations and the rest of the faith community to set a moral example which moves our country beyond the noise of racial division and partisanship by supporting the President’s courageous initiative to address this vital issue. People of faith all over this country have a responsibility to stand for the millions who suffer from a lack of adequate provision by pleading the cause of the needy, and raising their voices in support of the President’s economic reform agenda.
Question: Would any rational person today consider anti-slavery Christians unreasonable for distrusting the President and Congress on this?