The Lampstand Project – A Coalition of South Dakota Churches Mobilized
Welcome and thanks for coming today to this press conference. We appreciate the interest you are showing in what is unfolding in our state with regard to the swell of momentum in the churches to stand alongside women and children, born and unborn.
Standing before you is a representation of Sioux Falls area clergy who make up the Lampstand Coalition. We join hundred of other pastors and priests throughout the state in the efforts we announce today. Before we give our prepared statement we want will introduce the clergy who will reading.
Today we are announcing the launch of the Lampstand Project which seeks to unite and mobilize a strong coalition of hundreds of churches in South Dakota supporting INITIATED MEASURE 11 and VoteYesForLife.com.
We represent the entire spectrum of Christian faith traditions and have come together around two central affirmations;
1. We affirm the Bible’s concern for women and the least of these -– which includes the most vulnerable in our midst -– the unborn child.
2. We affirm that God can fully redeem unfortunate circumstances and that abortion is unnecessary in part because the Church is a significant part of God’s provision to women and children in crisis.
Scripture calls this “pure religion.” James 1:27 talks about God’s concern for women without support and for children without parents who can care for them.
In 2006, polling showed that a majority of South Dakotans would have voted for a law restricting abortion had it included exceptions for rape and incest. This November, INITIATED MEASURE 11 has those exceptions for rape and incest, and the life and health of the mother. South Dakota has a long legislative history on this issue and this process has resulted in INITIATED MEASURE 11 — a reasonable, well-crafted law that protects women and unborn children.
Abortion advocates can be expected to continue spreading false fears about how horrible inaccessible abortion will be for women in remote parts of our state. What they are not telling you is that we already have churches in every remote corner of our state ready and willing to help women and children, born and unborn. They are falsely implying that the only hope a women with a crisis pregnancy has is found in an abortuary. It is a great disservice to women in our state for abortion advocates to lead them to the belief that they have only one choice.
It is not true that women in crisis pregnancies will have nowhere to turn when INITIATED MEASURE 11 is passed in South Dakota. The Church is God’s answer and we are holding ourselves accountable to be His answer. South Dakota churches are being called to be a model for rest of the nation.
Providence has given the family of churches – Protestant and Catholic – in South Dakota a window of opportunity to address the issue of the shedding of judicially innocent blood in America and, at the same time, come alongside women in crisis. The Lampstand Coalition of Churches desire this day to make our availability and support know. Lampstand Churches are graced by a spirit of adoption. Yet our affirmations go beyond words and include specific actions and commitments to women and children, born and unborn.
Lampstand Churches agree to come alongside every woman and child God leads our way, providing, to the extent of our ability, tangible support – food, shelter, counsel, and as necessary, referrals to crisis pregnancy centers throughout our state.
Lampstand Churches are sounding a clear trumpet call from the pulpit encouraging our congregation to support Initiated Measure 11 with volunteers, special offerings or designated funds.
Lampstand Churches will be prominently displaying the Lampstand Church emblem and or signage at our facility/property through Election Day, November 4, 2008.
Far beyond November 4, Lampstand Churches will remain committed and available to women and children, born and unborn.
The Lampstand Colaition of Churches has a repentant heart. We acknowledge that there have been women in great need these past several decades who have found it easier get an abortion than face her church family. For tolerating these self-righteous and shame-based cultures, we as church leaders repent and declare statewide that those days are long gone. Our doors and hearts are open to any woman who finds herself in any situation, at any time, for any reason. No stones will be cast. No shame. Rather, tangible love and understanding and support. We commit the full weight of our church family behind you – during the pregnancy, and long after.
The Lampstand Colaition of Churches is committed to women who are abortion-bound, and women who are post-abortive. Our message is a message of truth, comfort, redemption and forgiveness. We find it extremely callous and insensitive to post-abortive women that those who profit from abortion dismiss the notion that abortion hurts women.
Like many in South Dakota, we were shocked by depositions of South Dakota women given to the Eighth Circuit Court in the Informed Consent case regarding how they were treated at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Sioux Falls. South Dakota women testified that they were told to “shut up” by clinic staff when they started to cry. Instead of waiting until a woman was in a good mindset to make a good CHOICE, they are medicated to calm them down – they only saw the doctor for 5-7 minutes during the procedure and then they are sent out the doors to deal with the aftermath alone. We find it unacceptable that Planned Parenthood keeps no records of what happens to women after they walk out of their abortion appointment and they offer no aftercare of any sort to women post-abortion, nor is there ANY ongoing contact with ANY doctor or staff.
This treatment of women is unacceptable to people of faith and in good conscience we as church leaders cannot sit quiet while this continues in our midst. Church leaders in the past have remained quiet during times of great human suffering and genocide. The family of churches in South Dakota are committing today to not commit “the sin of passing by” with regard to the one who hurting along the side of life’s road.
As clergy we are committed to both to the truth and light and we find it extremely deceptive that those who promote and profit from abortion consistently play deceptive words games – referring to the unborn as “products of conception” or “uterine contents” or “blobs of tissue.” Even their campaign name – Healthy Families – we find to be cloaked in irony and illusion.
We find it hypocritical that those who are now saying “let families decide” are the very people who fight any form of family involvement and parental notification in abortion.
Abortion advocates are hoping to tap into the strong South Dakota value of less government involvement, yet they depend on $335 million in tax payer funding every year. As church leaders throughout our state, we are turning the tables over on those who profit at the expense of those who are most needy.
Last month a massive national campaign against the unborn in South Dakota was launched in Washington DC by the ACLU, NARAL and Planned Parenthood. We do not believe these groups represent the values of South Dakota. They profit into the hundreds of millions of dollars a year by keeping abortion legal. Listening to them tell us abortion has no ill effects can best be likened to the tobacco company trying to fight those saying smoking kills. We can’t sit by and say nothing. We are standing up today in part because the ACLU announced two days ago they are opening an office here in Sioux Falls. As church leaders, we are sounding the alarm that those hostile to the faith, family values and unborn are moving into South Dakota with large financial support for their propaganda war.
We are deeply troubled that the abortion advocates have never renounced the racist roots of their celebrated founder Margaret Sanger. It is widely known that Sanger referred to blacks and the poor as “human weeds” and “dysgenic races” to be “exterminated through forced sterilization and abortion.” As people of faith who believe we are all created equal, we are standing up to fight an abortion industry that kills two black babies for every one that is carried to term. It is a great concern to us that the Native population of our state, people who believe all life is sacred, are being targeted by the abortion industry.
There are two historical parallels that have fed the vision of the Lampstand Project.
Those who are familiar with the history of slavery and abolition in the United States know of the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad was an informal network of secret routes and safe houses used by 19th century slaves in the United States to escape to free states and Canada with the aid of abolitionists who were sympathetic to their cause. These safe houses along the route to freedom were identified by LANTERNS. The lantern was the symbol marking that house as a gateway to freedom. The Lampstand Project similarly identifies a church as a gate to life and a blessed future for women and children.
Fast-forward to 1970. In April 1970, three years before Roe v Wade, abortion was legalized in New York City. Three people, obsessed with abortion, joined efforts – two doctors and a pastor. The pastor’s name was Rev. Howard Moody and when the New York abortion statute fell in 1970, Rev. Moody prevailed on the other two to set up an abortion shop in New York City. Rev. Moody started something called the Clergy Consultation Referral Service promising the two doctors that if they’d set up the abortion shop, he’d provide an unceasing flow of women from the entire eastern half of the United States. He did just that – the Clergy Consultation Referral Service became a network of fifteen hundred pastors up and down the eastern seaboard. Business boomed and God’s blessing lifted off our nation! It’s sobering to realize it was pastors who first opened up the stream of shed innocent blood feeding the abortion mills.
Today, motivated pastors and churches are being called to mobilize and undo the work of the Clergy Consultation Referral Service!!
South Dakotan’s who have regard for faith are awakening to the fact that our state has been divinely chosen and given a window of opportunity to right what God says is clearly wrong. There are a small group of clergy in our state who point out the word “abortion” isn’t in the Bible. Neither is the word Trinity and the Trinity is one of the Bible foundational doctrines. Scripture is full of references to the fact that God has a dream for each human life and that his dream even begins long before conception, it begins in his mind, and only manifest in the flesh at conception. The Lampstand Coalition has provided to church leaders throughout the state a paper outlining the great clarity there is in Scripture regarding the immorality of the shedding of innocent blood.
Since there is no wiggle room in Scripture, Church Tradition or Theological Reasoning with regard to the fact that abortion is a great moral evil, it follows that it is immoral to do nothing to stop it when we have the ability and opportunity to stop it. It is a sin of commission to kill an unborn child, or campaign for same and it’s a sin of omission to not do what you can to do prevent it.
Our hope is that across our state people of faith will take the various points presented here to their church leaders and encourage them to join us in support the passage of Initiated Measure 11. We invite people of faith throughout our state to contact us for more information about the coalition of hundreds of churches in South Dakota uniting right now on behalf of women and children, born and unborn.
We want to conclude by opening this up for questions. To break the ice we will first raise and answer a couple of questions ourselves.
1. What about those who say this is too political and crosses the legality lines for a church as a 501c3 non-profit organization.
Answer: Any church or pastor can speak about ballot issues – life, marriage, gambling, etc.. We just can’t endorse candidates. Abortion is a moral issue that has been politicized. The people of God must enter the political arena to fight this and other social ills.
2. Are you imposing your religious views on the rest of society with regard to when life begins and whether or not abortion is right or wrong?
Answer: No. In 1973, the Court decided Roe v Wade on the basis that only philosophers and theologians can speculate as to when life begins and the judiciary can’t speculate. Today is 2008. Advances in molecular biology, fetology, human embryology, and human genetics now confirm scientifically that conception produces a separate living and unique human being.