Too Comfortable in the Halls of Power

Jonathan Merritt knows the inside story of evangelicalism’s flirtation with power in the last two decades. Some might say he knows too much; some of it he has experienced himself; he shows the underbelly of some of the Southern Baptist Convention’s gamesmanship when it comes to political issues — including (sadly) environmentalism. His account in A Faith of Our Own is discrete but not unafraid to say “the jig is up” on being too comfortable in the halls of power. Some of us would say of the evangelical flirtation with power that “the powers, after all, have no clothes — nor did they ever have them.”

There is a rising number of Christians who are not tempted, and they are establishing a better way for Christian witness.

What are the specific instances where you think evangelicals and progressives have gotten too close to power? Where are you seeing an “enough is enough” attitude? Is proximity to state power seductive? Do you think progressive and evangelicals have been used as a voting bloc?

They will not let the Christian issues be reduced to one or two talking points or issues in the culture war. Why, they ask, is abortion so important but nuclear war not? He writes about Tyler Wigg Stevenson, Bethany Hoang and IMJ…  that is, the “Christian agenda” is broadening. I find Jonathan’s perception here entirely accurate… things are changing among the next generation.

When I hear pastors “disappointed”  with some senator’s deceits and conceits I have to admit my response is not so much cynical as it is non-plussed: Power corrupts, or at least humans with power tend toward corruption. The more power the more temptation to corruption. Pastors, of all people, ought not to be registering disappointments when astute observers have been saying that very thing for years. I, for one, was not surprised one bit by President Obama’s support of same-sex marriage; I was surprised by pastors who were surprised.

Christians, too, are at war with one another. Embarrassingly so at times. Our culture is a culture of opinion and it has become the age of incivility in opinionating. Jonathan gets it exactly right when he says we have a “most distasteful disposition” (53).

One of the more telling stories is his interaction with a veteran, his mentor, who told him, after he had experienced a taste of power, to beware of the seduction. His observation is that we should always be uncomfortable in the halls of power. Constantine was a mistake; we have suffered for it ever since — and this latest flirtation with power, both from the Left and the Right.

Here is where we have to get to become Christian when it comes to politics:

When one stands before Jesus on the cross, the kingdom is unveiled in its entire splendor and our modern understanding of social engagement is turned on its head. The kingdom, Jesus demonstrates, can never be won through a culture war because it promotes serving above winning, sacrifice above entitlement, giving above taking over (82).

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  • I appreciate this series regarding Jonathan Merritt’s new book. I saw him twice on Fox News this past week and was impressed.

    You were right in what you said in your first post. Our generation did blow this. I am hoping this generation and the next does a much better job. When the church is reduced to a voting bloc, we all lose. Most of all, the church loses its witness.

  • Kierkegaard71

    When one makes criticisms of why Christians oppose abortion, but not the nuclear war threat, don’t you at least have to admit that one difference between the two is that the number of lives lost to abortion have far eclipsed the numbers lost to nuclear war? Yes, killing any innocent people is wrong, but, at the level of global impact over the decades, abortion far outpaces nuclear war in actual damage.

  • Prodigal Daughter

    Kierkegaard71: Honestly, do numbers even matter? Evil is evil. Nuclear war is just as evil as abortion and just as deadly. It threatens all life–not just the unborn.

  • DRT

    Kierkegaard71, OK, substitute water born illness that kills 10 times what abortion kills in the US

  • I’m always a bit troubled with the idea that Constantine was a complete mistake. Much needs to be unpacked here. Governance seems to me to be a natural (not fallen) extension of human beings coordinating action. Because of our sinful condition, wielding the sword as part of governance is necessary for human flourishing. If more and more citizens become Christian to the point where Christians are pervasive, then what should be the response toward governance? I almost get the sense that there is an assumption that the need for governance will disappear. Or if there is to be governance, we will maintain a minority of citizens who will not be Christians so we can have a government … sort of like European Christians did with Jews, taking full advantage of money-lending opportunities provided by Jews while all the time condemning them for providing the service?

    In short, I don’t think we can escape wrestling with being Christians with power. Rather I think we need a view of governance that sees government as a subsidiary and supplemental player to the central role played by a constellation of human institutions like family, neighborhood, worshiping communities, volunteer organizations, businesses, schools, and such. The drive in recent years is to see government as the central player in our lives, directing every tangent of societal activity. Christians, whether progressive or Evangelical, seem to me to be too heavily tilted this direction.

    Also … Yes. By all means we are to be concerned about more than abortion or gay marriage. But my experience has been, more often than not, that this framing is used by progressive/Democrat/liberals as a means for justifying a very narrow slate of solutions that entail substantial intervention by government. So despite their protestations about the Right erring by becoming too entangled with government they are actually arguing that religion and politics need to differently entangled in a deep way. And just to anticipate reactions, I’m not saying there is never a role for government, but why is government our default option for addressing challenges? Why is it not about being salt and light in our own contexts and working for the reform and betterment of our societal institutions listed above?

  • “But my experience has been, more often than not, that this framing is used by progressive/Democrat/liberals as a means for justifying a very narrow slate of solutions that entail substantial intervention by government.”

    I have to agree with Michael here. Progressives do not worry about religious entanglement; they worry about conservative religious entanglement. Haven’t heard any of ’em tell Jim Wallis to sit down or leave the room.

  • Gary Lyn

    I am saddened that the discussion is still about one side vs. the other. In this conversation, I would probably be described as progressive/liberal (I omit, intentionally, the Democrat category). In other conversations, that description would not fit. My views and perspectives haven’t changed, but suddenly my label has??
    Example: I know many, very many people that would also be described as progressive/liberal in this conversation who are not, in any way, attempting to justify “a very narrow slate of solutions that entail substantial intervention by government.” Who are not “actually arguing that religion and politics need to be differently entangled in a deep way.” Who do not see “government as our default option for addressing challenges.” Yes, there is a view of government and its role in our lives. There is a struggle for how much and in what way government is involved. I would invite you, Michael, to broaden your experience.

  • Jason Lee

    “The drive in recent years is to see government as the central player in our lives” …Not so. Hands down, the drive in America is to make the market king. The drive is to put our lives under the logic and forces of the market. Just look at education and health care. The MBAs are making those institutions more and more in their own image.

  • Gary, I live in a neighborhood that votes 92% Democrat. I’ve been serving in the Hierarchy of the Presbyterian Church, USA, for eight years, and I’ve yet to meet one staff person who would identify themselves as conservative or Republican (there are a minority who do so on the board where I serve.) I participated in the early life of the Emergent Village world. How much broader would you like me to go? 😉

    Yes. I’m generalizing. I can’t give nuance to all aspects of this. I’m being somewhat rhetorical, hoping to articulate what I see as the thrust of of what is happening. My comments are usually too long as it is.

  • John W Frye

    When we hear the loud roars “to take America back for God,” the Republican establishment hears, “Take America back for the Republican Party.” That’s it. They milk this misguided evangelical vision for all its worth.

  • But government already is a “central player” in our lives — you cannot exist in 21st century without the edifices and structures of government that provide, secure and maintain the transportation system, communications networks, food supply, electricity, etc.… …yet when it comes to aid to the poor, addressing inequality, equalizing opportunities, we’re drummed with this “not the government’s responsibility”… …seems like we like the stuff that helps us, but the spending for them other people is evil…

    …but it’s been the repeated mantra since the Age of Reagan (which not inconsequentially, has seen the U.S. go from leading creditor nation to leading debtor nation, leading exporter to leading importer, with undue emphasis on Finance, Insurance, Real Estate sectors to the detriment of other industries), the poisioning of the well that government is evil, big business/markets are good. But what are the moral outcomes for a world where everything can be bought and sold?

    @Michael, thanks for sharing that, I believe I understand where you are coming from now (and kind of relate, as I’ve always had that contrarian tendency in me), but that pocket you are in is hardly representative of those who have grasp of power at national level over the last ~30 years.

  • Sagrav

    “When one makes criticisms of why Christians oppose abortion, but not the nuclear war threat, don’t you at least have to admit that one difference between the two is that the number of lives lost to abortion have far eclipsed the numbers lost to nuclear war? Yes, killing any innocent people is wrong, but, at the level of global impact over the decades, abortion far outpaces nuclear war in actual damage.”

    This argument only makes sense if you start off believing that a fertilized egg or a slightly developed fetus is of the same sentience as a new born baby. Those of us on the pro-choice side of the argument don’t accept this premise, and so we don’t (and will never) believe that abortion has caused some kind of baby holocaust. Thus, nuclear annihilation, poverty, disease, and discrimination will all be far more important issues for us than imagined baby holocausts.

    A seed is not the same as a tree.
    An egg is not the same as a chicken.

  • I would hesitate taking the argument to extremes. While it’s true that Christians should be wary of overpoliticization, the problem hasn’t been the involvement of Christians in politics. It’s that Christians have generally been involved in the wrong kind of politics – the culture-war brand that does not focus on bettering the lives of others but rather forcing Christian interpretations of morality and ethics on others who might not share them.

    I fear the backlash among younger Christians, of which I am one, against what conservative Christians have done in American politics and the church will poison the well against any sort of political involvement at all. Yet I don’t see how we can effectively help the poor, the sick, the hungry and the oppressed on any sort of a large scale without the government, which has economies of scale unmatched by any church or nonprofit. Further, the priorities of the government more or less tend to reflect the priorities of our society. And it behooves the church to make our society – and therefore our government – more concerned about the needs of the less fortunate and less concerned about the desires of the affluent.

    If our reaction to the 30 years’ misuse and abuse of political power on the Christian right is to disengage entirely from political involvement, the church will case to be an effective voice for the poor in the halls of power, which inherently overlook the voiceless, especially these days. And that would be no less a tragedy than what we’ve seen in the past three decades.

  • Bah, the church will *cease* to be an effective voice, etc.

  • Jason #8

    Healthcare and education are poster children for institutions that have been impervious to market influences for decades. The AMA is essentially a cartel, keeping salaries high by severely restricting who can provide medical services. Patients and doctors have no way to know the actual cost of any decision they make because of the convoluted insurance payment structures. To the degree that healthcare and education have become problems, it is not from being to market oriented. Using these institutions as examples of how markets have failed, and thus more government is needed, doesn’t wash.

    However, at some levels I agree with you that. I’d suggest, as I have before, that we need market economies, not market societies. But are our only options market or government?

  • CGC

    Hi Sagrav,
    In your understanding, at what point does a fetus become a baby? At what stage of development?

  • Naum and others

    As I noted in the previous post in this series, I grew up in an Evangelical Nazarene home. I was dissatisfied with that context. It was in 1980 during a chapel service at a Nazarene University that I was forced to set through Jerry Falwell trumpeting his new Moral Majority that I decided I needed to move on. I became PCUSA in 1983 but soon learned that, at least in the hierarchical structures, it was every bit as much skewed in the liberal direction. Many don’t recall that one influence in the rise of the Christian Right was the advent of the Christian Left in the Mainline denominations in the 50’s thru 70’s. A new generation has now arisen who knew not Pharaoh and believes the answer to the Christian Right is a Christian Left/Progressive alternative. The church is mired in a tug-of-war between identifying with Right or Left politics. We can’t seem to find a voice that will broadly frame issues in a way that challenges us to transcend narrow partisanship and be in respectful community with those with whom we disagree about particular solutions to problems. We need a socio-theological discourse that transcends narrow political identification. And know matter how you start the conversation, it is always the other camp’s fault we are we are and they have to change first.

  • One further thought. I recently did a series here at Jesus Creed about John Knapp’s book “How the Church Fails Businesspeople (and what can be done about it.)” There is a whole cottage industry of para-church organizations out there that try to help businesspeople integrate faith and work. The great majority are tilted toward the theologically and politically conservative end of the spectrum.

    Progressive Christians make the point that the Bible says more about wealth than any other topic. They are up in arms about greed and business practices. They are out occupying Wall Street. That could be one legitimate response. But find me the progressive organizations and churches/denominations who are in of support spiritual formation for businesspeople and are offering them help with ethical reflection on daily business life. There may be one or two but there are virtually none! Seminaries offer no classes in how to pastor people in this aspect of their life. In an area where the church is uniquely positioned to be transformational, it is completely absent from the field.

    A let’s be clear, while there are all of these conservative para-church organizations, they operate outside the structures of congregations and denominations. Yet conservative churches have no qualms about embracing politics as a means to ensure their vision of a moral society. Liberal churches have no qualms about embracing politics to ensure their vision of a just society. But neither sees that the formation of Christians in their care for service in the world as worthy of their time.

  • phil_style

    @Sagrav #12 and CGC #16,

    The definition of where human life begins is exactly the question at the heart of the abortion debate. It’s NOT an issue of feminism or choice UNTIL the question of human life is addressed. So you are both right to center the discussion there.

  • Michael W. Kruse, in #5, said: “But my experience has been, more often than not, that this framing is used by progressive/Democrat/liberals as a means for justifying a very narrow slate of solutions that entail substantial intervention by government. ”

    In my own experience, while it is true that progressive/Democrat/liberals are indeed trying to justify more substantial intervention by government, they do not do so (and, frankly, have never done so) at the expense on non-government solutions. They are VERY happy to have those continue and grow.

    Rather, there is a significant disagreement about the necessity/appropriateness of government being a part of the solution to various problems. Where (some) conservatives would seem to argue that government intervention is NEVER a good solution (and, in fact, they would seem to argue that is usually the problem that needs solving in the first place), liberals do see a viable and necessary place for government action.

    But this has never been to the exclusion of other solutions in addition to that.

  • MWK

    DRT – I’m not disagreeing with you, but I’d not heard that water-born illnesses kill 10 times as many people than abortions. Considering that there are about 1 million abortions in the US each year, that would mean 10 million people die a year from dirty water in the US. Are there any statistics for that you could point me to, because I had never heard that.

  • Jeremy

    Michael, I’m not sure I follow your logic. These groups have proven impervious to market forces, thus they’re a bad example of how market forces have failed? It seems to me that any industry where consumer need overwhelms competitive considerations makes for a very bad situation with regards to market forces.

    Anyway, I view what we’re seeing now as a Hegelian Dialectic. The early 1900’s saw the Christian Left in power and the rise of Christian Right as a reaction to that. My personal observation is that young(er) people are still highly political, but are searching for a balance. They want the Church to be extremely active, but also think the government can play a role in responding to issues that may be too big for her unless we all started magically working as a team (HAH).

  • Richard

    @ MWK

    You won’t find that stat for “in the US.” DRT is referring to a global mortality rate.

  • MWK

    I see. He (or she) said in the US, but perhaps I was reading the sentence wrong. It makes me wonder how many abortions there are in the world. My friends in China tell me there are more than 10 million a year there, and that’s just what is reported due to the number of forced abortions that are not reported.

  • Rana
  • Jeremy

    MWK – The problem isn’t how many die, it’s whether or not banning Abortion will actually solve the problem. Statistically speaking, it won’t. Sure, it’ll make us feel better about ourselves, but it’s just shoving it under the rug. Fixing abortion will require a concerted effort to respond to the REASONS women have them to begin with…something the Conservative part of the Church seems thoroughly uninterested in doing unless we can maintain our ideological purity. (that’s unfair to many, I know, but I’m having to generalize here)

  • DRT

    MWK, what Jeremy and Richard say reflect my views. People in the US generally have the highest probablity of success in battling abortion in the US, and in my view next to no chance in the greater world if they can’t succeed at home. So my comparison is between two things that US citizens can choose to put their efforts behind. Abortion in the US, and water born illness in the world. I don’t think there is a whole lotta dispute that people giving money and concentrating on water born illness will yield results. But it is well proven that over the past 30 years fighting against US abortion produces no results. Further, as Jeremy says, I don’t see a lot of fighting to combat the reasons for US abortion.

    Regardless, the issue is not so much the numbers, even though if you choose to go by the numbers you would target water born illness, the issue is simply having a real impact, doing something that actually matters to the people who are under pressure rather than simply making the one talking feel good.

  • MWK

    I certainly don’t disagree that the world’s issues regarding basic necessities of life such as clean drinking water are huge and deserve more attention and resources. Last year my family and several others I knew skipped christmas presents and instead donated all that money to help dig a well in Sudan. On the other hand, for those who believe abortion is the intentional killing of another human being, that is a battle that people just won’t give up just because there is little progress in getting it overturned. As a descendant from slaves, I’m glad that abolitionists didn’t give up the fight after decades of seeing little or no results to end that atrocity.

    Jeremy – sorry, but your argument that ending abortion won’t end the problem rings very hollow. You are basically stating that since abortion will not solve the problems that lead to unwanted pregnancies and unwanted children, banning abortion wouldn’t solve anything. You’re right, it may not solve issues surrounding why women have abortions, but that seems a very silly reason to not fight state-sponsored murder when you believe that is what abortion is.

  • DRT

    MWK, your tenacity and passion are admirable. I find the choice of what to pursue to be a very difficult choice. Abortion, to me, is not a single issue idea. The people who support abortion rights are generally not people in favor of killing babies. If they are like me, they look at the big picture of whether outlawing abortion will actually reduce harm or not, and that is not a simple question. I know doctors who have lived through the implications of young women and girls getting pregnant and going to back woods people to have abortions performed. It truly is horrifying.

    This, of course, does not even start to bring into the issue whether you can actually consider a single cell to be a human, I don’t, but I certainly consider a 9 month unborn baby to be a human life. That becomes a very complicated question.

    Then there is the issue of whether we can actually effect the change, given the points I made previously. I think those who are vocal about the abortion fight should be even more vocal about providing adoption services, birth control, prenatal free of charge health care etc to the women caught in the difficult situation. I am quite displeased that most who are vocal opponents are actually against birth control, free health care etc. It seems that they are not looking at this issue at a high enough level.

    So it is much more complicated that simply being against abortion. I don’t want anyone to get an abortion. Nor do I want them to die in a traffic accident, get their money stolen by big business, nor die of preventable water born illness. I also don’t want them to get pregnant if I could have supplied birth control. It is not an easy nor a cut and dried decision.

    I wish those that come here and characterize people who are not jumping up and down to join the pro-life bandwagon as baby killers or somehow being less than moral would just go away. That is far from true.

  • Jeremy

    I’m not arguing against banning it or that it’s a battle that should just be given up as futile. I’m arguing that the current approach is stupid and oriented more towards a sense of personal purity than any real concern for the unborn. This was readily apparent when Christian organizations shut down adoption services the moment they thought they might have to consider family structures they didn’t approve of.

    My point is that banning abortion is a lot like cold medicine. You’re still just as sick as you were before, but the symptoms are masked. I’m all for banning abortion. I’ve been personally impacted by it and hate it with a passion. I just think we’re going to have to get a little more creative if we want to actually SOLVE THE PROBLEM.

  • Bob

    I’ll be a broken record here and elsewhere, but there is often a mixing of the individual Christian as part of the body of Christ and the local church when it comes to the issue of social and political activism. The calls for each are often intertwined improperly and we end up on the far end of the pendulum swing with local churches serving as political platforms and social programs. When we try to rally around politics and social justice as a body of believers we almost always fail. As much as we’d like to believe that deeds are far more uniting than creeds, it doesn’t end up that way. There are many political issues and social programs that we believers have differing views about yet we can still fellowship in Christ, which includes our doctrine.

  • Patrick

    Same old story, both sides, if you think you can achieve God’s goals via a pagan system or with the help of pagans, you are wrong.

    Paul wouldn’t even tolerate the demon possessed girl stating the truth for goodness sakes. How many 20 th Christians went awry joining communist “liberation movements” to help the poor then watched The Body of Christ get persecuted?

    Maybe our state can make the environment real clean for us or stop abortions or bring permanent peace or war! At the same time it may openly persecute Christians who assert the truth that Jesus and not Caesar is King.

    Study this interactive map of Europe:

    From 1000 AD till 2003. Mostly Christian by then , almost constant warfare, most of it caused by Christians using states to achieve X goals. I am sure most those believers felt like we do about their states. Look at all this warfare within Christendom. WHY ?

    “The War for Righteousness” is a great read, check it out if anyone cares, it’s the era American Christians started thinking like we do today and unfortunately like Christians almost always have since Constantine.

    God stirs the king’s heart when He desires and I believe our spiritual lives and prayer He factors in, to think the loudest, most aggressive and noisiest Christian can advance God’s view or Kingdom via a state I think is insane and very harmful to the advancement of the kingdom.

  • Kierkegaard71

    DRT@4, I believe that the US government has engaged in criminal acts, including the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. So, I am not justifying the use of nuclear weapons and believe they should be reduced/eliminated. However, I was making a rhetorical point, perhaps ineffectively, that I am bothered by the nonchalant attitude many Christians have toward the practice of abortion. I get your reference to water-borne illness, but is water-borne illness something that is intentionally and maliciously inflicted on the population? I put nuclear war and abortion in the latter category.

  • DRT

    Kierkegaard71 #33, as I get older i am having a more difficult time seperating sins of neglect from sins of intent. Water illness is a sin of intent, imo, at this point.

    Help requested – Do I have to say borne for “water borne” and not “water born”?

  • Tom Howard

    Interesting. . . the point of the post I believe was “power and its corrupting influence”. Now with 33 posts ahead of this one, the majority are about “politics”. Well, both words start with “P” so that is some progress. Personally I am frustrated that when any conversation starts to approach what I would call “serving or protecting or helping” the least of them. BANG the conversation immediately turns partisan to partisan politics. Hardly ever can get past that to some lowest common denominators. . .we simply seem to have lost the ability to separate politics and religion. I think is not turning out well.

  • Tom, although the comments did depart from the point of the post, I think it’s sad that you view abortion, water-borne illness, and nuclear war as “politics.”

  • Hear, hear! Yes, while I respect so many around me who want continued engagement in a current day version of what Falwell and James Dobson promoted, and on the other side what Jim Wallis promotes, I think we need a new voice that lets the powers that be on every side know that the power we are committed to is different and distinct in King Jesus. That we refuse all the ways of the world in its use of power, and instead insist that taking up our cross and following the Lamb in his war is the one way of power for us.

    When is society going to look at us, the church as something different? Not just part of it, or subsumed in it? Only then should they take seriously any political stand we make. For indeed, I agree with Allan Bevere and others here, our politics ought to be the politics of witness to a different kingdom. Which can’t become a part of the worldly politic. But is to be for the world in a quite political manner, showing and proclaiming another kingdom altogether. Something that is for and therefore down to earth, yet transcends earthly entities.

  • Tom Howard

    Now Peter, I didn’t say that…you missed my drift. for the most part it wasn’t the issues that were being discussed…of course those issues are vital important issues….but parse the posts….they went to the political right and the left. That is not wrong. It is just there is more to discuss than that ….much like Michael said…how do we all pull together for a solution. Maybe we can have that discussion as well

  • The other Dana

    Tom Howard in #35 rightly reminds us of the proper topic of the post. But when absurd things are said, it often is just too hard to let them stand. Take for example this one:
    Sagrav says:
    May 16, 2012 at 9:18 am

    A seed is not the same as a tree.
    An egg is not the same as a chicken.

    A tree (or its seed) is not a human, nor is a chicken (or its egg); never will be. There is ZERO comparison. Such a comment made in the defense of a so-called “pro-choice” argument is absudity defined. And obfuscatiing about “sentience” as some supposed qualifier for legitimate human life has nothing whatsoever to do with it either. The recipe here seems to be to throw in a couple two-dollar words in place of basic, pre-elementary biology and genuinely biblical thought, and what you’ve cooked up is nothing more than a foul mess of genuinely muddled nonsense.

    Human life–from start to finish–is uniquely special, and no argument exists to diminish the sanctity of human life. God is not now, nor ever will be, a god to abortion, euthanasia, or any other death-worshipping human institution or so-called progressive agenda. Yes, there really is a litmus test here. If one is more concerned about sounding or acting or being “progressive” and can’t discern the immeasurable difference between a tree, a chicken, and a human–at any stage of their respective development–or that the wonton, willful, self-interested destruction of 20 million-plus (pre-born) humans (all perpetrated under the guise of some invented autonomous, personal right to do with one’s “body” as one sees fit) is not seen as a wickedness of holocaust proportions, then God help us indeed.

    Poverty will always be with us (according to Jesus’ own prophetically true statement of reality). Disease is part of the cursed creation that will never be eradicated. Discrimination is (usually) wrong, but even in its most extreme form imaginable it can NEVER be comparable to the intentional taking of the most helpless of human lives. On the one hand, the issue of how Christ-followers are properly to effect new-creational change via engagement in political institutions and processes is a matter for discussion and debate. While on the other hand, whether or not abortion is right or wrong is not debatable–it is black and white.

    Okay, now back to “power and its corrupting influence.” Carry on.

  • phil_style

    @ The other Dana, you question Sagrav’s quote that “A seed is not the same as a tree.
    An egg is not the same as a chicken” with your following statement “Human life–from start to finish–is uniquely special, and no argument exists to diminish the sanctity of human life. God is not now, nor ever will be, a god to abortion, euthanasia, or any other death-worshipping human institution or so-called progressive agenda”

    The problem here is, Sagrav might not believe the same things about God, or about humans that you do. Sagrav might be of the opinion the God does not exist. .
    There are plenty of contradictory faith opinions out there which policy makers have to deal with.

    The question of human beginnings IS the question that needs to be asked. And at least your position is clear. But we must not make such bold statements of truth, assuming that everyone shares our faith assumptions.