Institute on Religion and Democracy
January 22, 2001
United Methodism’s unofficial pro-life caucus convened its annual service in Washington, D.C. in the United Methodist Building on Capitol. Hill. That building is owned by the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, which is a traditional defender of abortion-rights. The occasion was the 28th anniversary of the Roe versus Wade Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion-on-demand.
“Brothers and sisters, one of the greatest indictments against the human race is the atrocious act of abortion,” said the Rev. Harold Lewis, Sr., the featured speaker. Lewis pastors the Lincoln Park United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C, a predominantly black congregation located not far from the United Methodist Building.
The words from Lewis are not typically heard in The United Methodist Building, which is a headquarters for church groups that defend abortion rights. Although located upstairs from the chapel where Lewis spoke, no staff from the Board of Church and Society attended.
United Methodism’s pro-life caucus, called The United Methodist Task Force on Abortion and Sexuality (TUMAS), successfully persuaded the church’s General Conference last year formally to oppose the late-term partial-birth abortion procedure. However, the Board of Church and Society remains a member of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), which defends the legality of all abortions, including partial-birth abortions.
Lewis did not directly address the policies of the Board of Church and Society. Instead, he described the tragedy of every destroyed unborn life. His sermon title was, “I’m a Miracle, not a Mistake.” He compared the 1.2 million Americans who have been killed in America’s wars, from the Revolution through the Persian Gulf War, to the 40 million unborn babies killed by abortion since the 1973 court decision.
“How many of those babies would have been scientists?” he asked rhetorically. “How many of those babies would have been doctors…lawyers…teachers…engineers…presidents?” Lewis recited a litany of statistics regarding abortion to make his case.
“Did you know a woman could legally abort an unborn child at anytime during her nine-month pregnancy for any reason?” he asked. Every third baby in America is aborted he said, totaling 1.3 million abortions every year, or 3,600 each day. He said estimates are that 93 percent of abortions are for birth control, while only three percent involve rape or incest, one percent result from fetal problems, and three percent result from health problems of the mother.
“Did you know the average abortion procedure takes ten to fifteen minutes?” Lewis asked. “The average adoption takes one to three years!” He said over 2 million couples in America are trying to adopt a child, but only 50,000 babies are placed for adoption each year. Of one million teenagers who become pregnant in a year, only one percent will offer their children for adoption, according to Lewis, while over one third percent will choose abortion.
“Did you know that over ten million African-American babies have been aborted since 1973?” he asked. “Did you know that an estimated $400 million dollars is grossed each year from abortion?” He pointed to members of the U.S. Congress who have voted to protect dogs against poison gas experiments but refuse to prohibit federal funds for abortion.
Lewis complained of a new “secularistic” language that seeks to “hoodwink the American people and persuade them to believe the lies regarding abortion.” This language refers to “fetus” rather than “unborn child,” to “sexually active” rather than “fornication and adultery,” and “pro-choice” rather than “abortion on demand.”
Citing many Scriptural passages that speak of the unborn as created in the image of and loved by God, Lewis likened abortion on demand to the pagan practice of child sacrifice to the god Molech. The Book of Leviticus describes this worship of Molech as “detestable,” Lewis said.
“Our God is a God of life,” Lewis affirmed. “Our God is a God of love… [and] a God of and for children.” He further declared: “The critical question for today: ‘Is modern day abortion a sacrificial practice to Molech?’”
“When an abortion is performed,” Lewis said, “We say by way of that act: return to sender…as if the baby is an unwanted or miss-sent package…[or] a piece of merchandise that can be cancelled.”
“According to God the baby is divinely designed and cosmically created long before it is in the womb,” Lewis stressed. “The womb is just the area where God announces His creation.”
Lewis, asserting that every baby is on a “mission for the Master,” asked what if Noah, Moses, David, Esther or Jesus had been aborted. “Was Jesus a mistake or a miracle?” he asked in conclusion. The audience of several dozen responded to Lewis’ passionate appeal appeal with numerous “amens.”