Blogger Bill Tammeus describes himself as “the former Faith columnist for The Kansas City Star.” What Tammeus thinks is not particularly relevant save for the fact that he represents the kind of “moderate” religious voice mainstream publications prefer.

In his September 10 column, Tammeus puts that moderation on display regarding the Brett Kavanaugh nomination and its potential effect on Roe v. Wade. In the process, he shows just how empty is the “open hearts and open minds on all sides” philosophy that Tammeus and others like him espouse.

Some subjects defy “moderation.”

Tammeus concedes that “there almost certainly are too many abortions done in the U.S.” That said, he adds, “I also think that sometimes abortion is the least evil in a series of evil choices and, thus, must remain legal.”

What Tammeus does not address are the choices presumably more evil than killing one’s own child. The only worse option–and here he merely hints– is “children born into extreme poverty.” In the United States, however, no woman is so poor or so unsupported that her baby would have no reasonable chance outside the womb.

In truth, Tammeus raises the issue of these children to mock “the so-called ‘pro-life’ forces.” These are the ones that have “have made opposition to abortion an idol.” Relying on crude media caricatures of the pro-life movement, Tammeus says of these idol worshippers, “Instead of being worried about a broader picture of life — such as children born into extreme poverty — they have focused almost solely on what happens before birth occurs.” 

The obvious rejoinder, of course, is that unless someone focuses on what happens before birth occurs, there will be no further issues to worry about.

Yes, admits Tammeus, some people “have made an idol of freedom of choice.” What is needed, in his book, is people on all sides of the issue “to reason together in a spirit of respect.” One can anticipate his caveat in advance, “That may well be impossible in the political poisoned-well climate of this Trump era.” Translated: before Trump, only his side got to do the name calling, and they don’t hear themselves speak.

No one has addressed the issue of moderation quite as well as William Lloyd Garrison. “I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation,” wrote Garrison in 1831. “No! No! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen;—but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse—I will not retreat a single inch—and I will be heard. The apathy of the people is enough to make every statue leap from its pedestal, and to hasten the resurrection of the dead.”

Garrison was one of those Christians who “made an idol” out of abolition. He did not see the point in meeting with slave owners to reason together in a spirit of respect.” Neither did the slave owners. Even in 1831, those meetings were left to the faith columnists.



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