Saturday evening, Rick Warren, pastor of the mega Saddleback Church, in Southern California questioned the two Presidential candidates in what was billed as a civil forum. Each candidate was asked the same questions over the course of an hour with Senator Obama going first. The questions ranged from the candidate’s personal faith to their political views. Their style of answering questions as well as their answers reveal a great deal about the two candidates. I'm not a fan of Rick Warren's cheap grace theology, but the forum was fair and provided some valuable insight into the two candidates.
The most revealing moment of the two hours was when Warren touched on the subject of abortion. “When does life begin?” Warren asked both candidates. Recognizing answering this question with the right answer would alienate much of his liberal base, Obama stated that he couldn’t definitely say- either theologically or biologically. When asked most forthrightly by Warren as to when a child should have its God given rights protected, Obama, the father of two daughters, balked and claimed "knowing when something" that is obviously living, "begins to live" was, "above his pay grade."
Obviously uncomfortable with the subject, the Illinois Senator went into his patented tap dance. He said abortions should be limited and he was going to reduce them. He bragged about his insertion of a meaningless plank in the National Democratic platform that says abortions should be limited. This plank conflicts with another that states the government should provide funding for abortions.
Obama’s most outright lie was his claim that abortion rates had gone up over the last eight years. Within minutes pro-life groups like Americans United for Life and even the analyst panel on Fox News Channel had the stats in front of the American public. Abortion rates have actually decreased over the last eight years, and have done so in significant fashion. In fact in January of 2008 it was reported by the Guttmacker Institute and reported in UN News and World Report that abortions had reached a three decade low.
Obama said he would limit abortions in the late stages of pregnancy if there are exceptions for the mother's health. He said he knew that people who consider themselves pro-life would find his stance "inadequate."
McCain expressed his anti-abortion stand simply and quickly, saying human rights begin the instant a human egg is fertilized- at conception. McCain, who adopted a daughter from Bangladesh, also called for making adoption easier.
When Warren asked Obama a follow up question, “Have you ever voted to limit or reduce abortions, the Senator answered, “I am in favor, for example, of limits on late term abortions if there is an exception for the mother’s health. Now from the perspective of those who, you know, are pro life, I think they would consider that inadequate. and I respect their views. I mean one of the things that I’ve always said is that on this particular issue, if you believe that life begins at conception, then — and you are consistent in that belief, then I can’t argue with you on that because that is a core issue of faith for you.”
Has Barack Obama ever voted to reduce abortions? Obama never answered that question at Saddleback, but he hasn’t. He voted against the ban on partial-birth abortions, a bill that passed Congress on a bipartisan basis three times before finally becoming law. In Illinois, he voted to kill a bill that would have stopped Christ Hospital and other medical facilities from abandoning live infants from unsuccessful abortions so that they would die of neglect.
Why would Obama agree to participate in a forum where he knew the subject of abortion would come up? The reason is votes. In 1992 the presidential election was decided by fourty five percent of Christians who voted in favor of abortion and special privileges for homosexuals. The Clinton victory is particularly sour to those who supported Bush’s pro-life, pro-family stances. According to a Christian Coalition exit survey, 25 percent of all voters in 1992 identified themselves as white evangelical Christians – or 25 million voters. Only 55 percent of these voters supported George Bush Senior. The rest were divided: 28 percent supported Clinton; and 17 percent, Perot. This election stood in stark contrast to 1988, when Bush received 88 percent of the Christian vote. Those eight million Christians who switched over to Clinton or Perot, candidates who supported abortion on demand and homosexual rights, gave the election to Clinton. If this same group had supported Bush in 1992, he would have won by three million votes.
No matter what the political pundits are saying, Christians control elections. Obama knows that and that’s the reason he has been so cozy with Warren and other evangelicals. If Obama, like Clinton did in 1992, can convince Christians his post modern views are compatable with the Bible, he can get elected. Let’s hope that task is also above his pay grade.