Today I am taking part in a blog-a-thon against hate. It’s been a week since the murder of Dr. George Tiller. Dr. Tiller was a target of many extreme pro-life groups and had feared for his life because, alongside health care and contraceptives, he also provided women and girls with a choice to have an abortion.
I am most upset at how Tiller was murdered–in front of his friends and family in his church, and in the name of God. Dr. Tiller was a target of many Christian pro-life extremists, and his death is a clear act of domestic terrorism. Murder suspect Scott Roeder has stated that he killed Tiller because he provided women with abortions, which went against his Christian values. He recently warned that there would be more violence against pro-choice doctors and establishments to come.
But Dr. Tiller was a person of faith, active in his church family, and was also pro-choice. I was raised in the church and I consider myself a progressive Christian as well. I believe in providing girls women with the choice of having an abortion, especially those who have been raped or are suffering from fetal complications; this was the case with many of Tiller’s patients. Many evangelicals would argue that you cannot be a Christian and be pro-choice. I beg to differ. I doubt that the God I serve would condemn me for believing that every woman and girl has a right to quality health care and access to affordable contraceptives. I doubt that the God I serve would condemn me for believing that young people need and want comprehensive sex education so that unwanted pregnancies and STDs are reduced.
Aside from the irony of being a pro-life murderer, killing anyone because of a difference in opinion , values, or religion is completely against the Christian principle of love. How can we love our neighbor when there are those among us who will kill a man for being pro-choice? Where in the Bible does it say that violence is a way to “teach sinners a lesson”? In this time of Lou Engle’s call for “Christian martyrdom”, there needs to be a real effort to connect how issues like choice and access to women’s health care are in line with being a servant to God. Or, perhaps we need to remember the words of Jesus Christ: “Let he who is without sin cast first stone” (John 8:7).