Subject: Abortion and the Election (responses)
I was surprised at how few responses there were to an email I expected would be fairly controversial, considering the diversity of my emailing list. My list contains 245 names. I received 14 responses. Five were positive. The shortest among them simply said "agree." Considering my propensity for expanding the length of sentences until I feel I have gotten it just right, short and to the point always amazes me. Receiving a one word email lightened things up immensely, after I had read a few of the negative ones. I received three neutral replies basically indicating agreement on the importance of voting. One request came in asking that they be left out of my "political" emails. When I acknowledged I had removed their name from my list, I explained I had but one list, so it would discontinue all emails. I had actually tried to prepare myself for the possibility of more removal requests. For me, it has always been difficult emotionally to receive a reply that someone so disliked what I said that they did not want to hear from me anymore. Receiving only one of those was actually pretty positive. That leaves five negative replies. Three of those emailed twice, since I responded to each of the negative ones, and the three replied again. My responses, based on some valid points they made in their emails, allowed me to expand in an area, or two, on things which I did not mention in my original. I thought then that some of them were important enough, I decided to add this "responses" page.
Each of my replies ended with the following question. "If I do a follow-up webpage of the emails received, and my replies to them, is it okay to include yours?" Only two people said yes, so except for the emails received from the President of the Teaching & Sharing Centers, this will be a summarization and quotes from the emails rather than the full text. My responses, however, will be pretty much as written. I have eliminated repeats of some of my sentences or paragraphs which were the same in several responses.
The first email I read brought up the issue that "until
someone proposes a plan to give over 900,000 unplanned pregnancies a happy
home . . . " with adequate food, medical attention, and so forth, they had
no interest in the pro-life perspective.
From: William Gibbons Jr
I actually agree with that. I expanded some on the website, but I unfortunately did not expand on that particular piece of my pro-life choice viewpoint. But I think being truly pro-life does not stop at birth. It means that all people actually get to have a “life,” not just a poverty level existence. Jesus was very clear about it. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. House the homeless. Do not forget the prisoner in jail. If you have two coats, give one to somebody who has none. I think your point is perfectly valid . . . Eliminating poverty, homelessness, lack of good educational opportunities, should all be a part of a pro-life perspective and agenda in my view.
The next email spoke of judging women's choices, which
were not made "cavalierly." It also pointed out Planned Parenthood does
not spend one dollar of anyone's taxes "to afford a woman to express her choice.
They do provide a lot of health services for woman who aren't able to get
them any other way. So shame on you for trying to mix apples with oranges
. . ."
From: William Gibbons Jr
Good to hear from you . . . Did you read the rest [of what
I wrote] on the website? I am also not interested in judging anyone’s choice.
But a ratio of only 1 adoption referral to every 149 abortions gives me pause
to wonder how much choice women are actually being given. Yes, I know there
is a law prohibiting taxpayer funds from being used for abortion. It
is one of the things Clinton has said she would like to change . . .
Thank you for your email . . .
From: (sender 2 name removed)
This person responded to my reply above indicating they "thought about hitting reply [to] all . . . " They continued, "I am surprised that you would republish supposed statistics published first from such a questionable website, and not go directly to the CDC website. The glaring difference is that the CDC doesn't even include abortion as a cause of death. Tacky tacky tacky. Shame, shame, shame. Snopes on the other hand is generally considered a good resource to use to dispel rumors."
They indicated I should "clear up the misconceptions you put forward incorrectly
in your first email."
From: William Gibbons Jr
I protect my email list by always using BCC for addresses, “reply to all” would go nowhere except to me.
The stats in the causes of death chart are from the CDC except for the first one, precisely because the CDC does not list abortion as a cause of death. All of that was already stated in the email. The CDC does collect some statistics of abortions, which is shown in the notes and clearly identified. Even if that incomplete number were used, abortion would still top the list. And even if 90% of those are first trimester abortions, and the 10% were the only number used, it would still be on the list, and not even at the bottom.
Snopes was the first place I checked. Everything in the email and the website was researched. The numbers are pretty sound and the sources are identified. Pro-abortion people always want to argue about the accuracy of stats. I need only one death to believe it is wrong. It is not my place to tell others what to believe or do. That is why I call myself a pro-life choice person. You are apparently under the erroneous opinion that I do sloppy work. I suspect some of those who have responded negatively were probably pissed off right from the start, and did not pay much attention to the details after that, but the details are already there. Thanks for the email.God’s peace,
The most lengthy response I received began, "Here’s my question for you. Have you seriously lost all ability for critical thinking? Being a 'single issue' voter is a clear symptom of the anti-intellectualism that has been overtaking swaths of this country for the past twenty years. It is the surest sign of the death of democracy that I know of. 'Hey look! Water, food, and shelter!' Bah, I only need one of those! I am a single issue voter!' Simply stating those words makes any thoughtful person immediately discount what you say. But I get it. Oooh, abortion. So terrible. Planned Parenthood. What a boogie man . . . "
". . . The fact is that I see nothing on this planet that makes joining it as a participant worthy of some random line in the sand. And when I see war, and religious hatred, and starvation, and healthcare denials, and interpersonal violence, and environmental destruction, and all the millions of other ways that devout religious people separate themselves, the ‘good' guys, from the other guys, the ‘bad' guys, this abortion thing is exactly that. A random line. A way for you to pat yourself on the back and tell yourself that you’ve really put a lot of thought into something and by golly, what a principled stand you’re taking. Yay Jesus. You believe all the stuff you put in your email. Fine. We can disagree."
They continued that, "I have developed a few moral codes of my own. When I see someone fall, I reach down and pick them up. When I see someone beating a dog, I step in to stop them. When it is raining, I give someone else my umbrella. I try to treat people fairly, honestly, and with dignity. This is regardless of whether I agree with them, understand them, or even like them. I do this because I believe service to others is the highest calling a human being can aspire to. I do this because I believe that all living beings are deserving of respect. Because I want the world to be a better place when I leave it than when I found it. Donald Trump does none of this. You recognize this, and even allude to it in your email. He is the shining beacon of everything that is wrong and distasteful with America today. Now there are plenty of people who are like that, many of them in government. They, though less and less I admit, at least have the decency to be shamed when called on it. But he revels in it. He holds his slime up as an example of how to get ahead, to be successful, of what it means to be an American. Instead, he actually is the embodiment of the destruction of what it means to be an American. We, as a society, are a lesser people today than we were before his arrival on the national stage. He wants to be President. Not a Representative, not a Senator, not a dog catcher. He wants to be the singular representative of what America puts forth to the world and holds up as an example to its people. And that matters. Who we hold up as worthy of emulation, which for better or worse includes the President, matters. When you support him, you support, at the most basic level, what he stands for as a person, who he is as a person. You should be embarrassed for doing so, and you know that. Otherwise you wouldn’t spend so much time trying to explain yourself in emails."
"While we, the American People, may have our disagreements personally and politically, and all of our politicians may be crooked, as a society we have at least pretended to aspire to something better than what we were. The veneer of the American Dream may be cracked and faded, but until recently it has still existed. Coming out of WWII, we stood for dignity, and respect, and service to others. We strove (usually pretty heavy handedly, admittedly) for the betterment of ourselves and those around us. E pluribus unum and equality for all... Donald Trump takes that and stomps on it. He makes it acceptable to be 'deplorable'. To wallow in the most base and vile of human instincts. To clearly separate people into us and them piles and to systematically devalue the them’s. And not with just one people, but with all of 'them'. Women, blacks, hispanics, gays, working whites, anyone who is not a white male of his ‘caliber’ or a direct descendant of his loins. He, as a person, treats them all shamefully. And to me, to my moral code, that is unacceptable. He may be the epitome of what our government has become, but that is all the more reason that people of good character need to stand forward and yell “Stop!”. Enough is enough. You can’t begin to claw back some semblance of basic American decency if you don’t take the first swipe."
". . . it took me roughly 2.5 minutes to see Trump for what he is, and be repulsed. To look at him a second time (I’m a big fan of his plan to end gerrymandering and impose term limits) and realize that there is no actionable, reasonable, way to avoid being tainted by the slime he brings as a person. And therefore, to wholly reject him as the potential representation of the American Way of Life. He truly is a rotten person in every sense of the word, an affliction which seeps into every other thing he touches."
"Which brings me back to my first point. Somewhere along the line you must have lost your ability to think critically . . . I’m calling you out on it. Do what you want. I suggest you don’t vote for president (thoughtfully choosing not to cast a vote is just as valid as casting a vote), or you vote Green or Libertarian to support the destruction of the duopoly (my personal preference, even with their known failings). But if you choose to vote for Trump, do it with your head held low and shame in your eyes. For you will have stood up and stated to the world, this man, who oozes values that every parent should cry in shame to see in their progeny, is who we hold up as our prime example of an American. And the concept of America the Beautiful will be that much closer to being darkened forever . . . "
The email closed with the admonition my vote would help
"bring us to the end that much sooner. So in one way, you’re correct. This
is a pretty important election."
From: William Gibbons Jr
Critical thinking is not the only tool I use in making decisions. I rely heavily on prayer, what I have gleaned from reading the Bible daily, and sometimes just basic intuition. I know you . . . might consider those irrelevant . . . I just want people to vote, so whichever way we go actually represents the mix of all Americans, not just the most vocal. I would like those who have been demeaned for even considering Trump, to know they do not need to be bullied into staying home on election day. At least one person, who actually does give a great deal of thought to his perspectives and decisions, and tries to sift through all the rhetoric, did indeed vote for Trump. The website explained I already voted a week ago. The Green Party is no longer an option. I decided a while ago not to take that path this election regardless.
From: (sender 3 name removed)
"See, it’s not that I consider them irrelevant. I consider them harmful. And I don’t believe anyone should be bullied into staying home on election day. Nor do I demean people for considering him. I looked at him as well, simply because he could act as an agitator of change. However, the understanding that he was no choice at all became immediately clear with even the most superficial review of his words and actions."
"As you have said . . . choices have consequences. And publicly supporting a narcissist, xenophobe, misogynist, liar, and cheater means being called out on it. And when an otherwise thoughtful person (which I do agree you are, though I often disagree with your conclusions) is driven to accept the unacceptable based on prayer, religion, and the Bible, then I can only be fortified in my belief that the world will be a better place when religion is relegated to the dust bin of history, right next to the flat earthers and the people who believe the sun revolves around the earth . . . I found this email disheartening, because I have always known you to be thoughtful, even when we disagree. And if this is where your thoughts and prayers are leading, then maybe it’s time to consider an adjustment. In short, I expected better."
"Thanks for the reply. Use what you like."
I made no further response to the above.
The final email, before getting to Tom's, made a very interesting point, although it is not at all surprising when you think about it. It would not have changed the way I voted, because Clinton's position of reopening the floodgates for abortion was simply unacceptable for getting my vote. Here it is.
"Single-issue voting is an abdication of the full right and responsibility you bear as a voter. To ignore the weight of all other issues and consider yourself as making an informed and qualified choice based on only one is myopic and irrational behavior."
"But let us pretend, for a moment, that abortion is the single issue that forms an exception to that. Let's pretend that voting exclusively on abortion is reasonable behavior. Did you actually vote for the candidate who would reduce those 900,000+ deaths? No, you actually did the opposite. Because, under Republican presidents, abortions increase. Every time, since the implementation of Roe v. Wade. Because the thing that makes abortions more popular has nothing to do with top-down legislation limiting Planned Parenthood. And it has everything to do with how much money and effort the government and the people put in to reducing poverty, giving women access to birth control and proper healthcare, and giving kids and teens access to scientifically accurate sex education."
"Don't believe me? Here's an article from the Christian perspective that includes the info:" http://www.vox.com/2016/8/4/12369912/hillary-clinton-pro-life
"There are plenty of other such pieces out there and the
facts to support them. Do your own research. So, in short, not only have you
abandoned the rational responsibility of a fully informed voter, you even
managed to vote against the one issue that you claim is your greatest concern.
You voted for a person whose tenure would increase abortions. Honestly, I'm
embarrassed for you. I'm embarrassed that your email is now a permanent stain
on a legacy that you've worked so hard to create. I'm embarrassed that your
behavior sets a precedent for others to adopt a similarly myopic view. If
you think about it, down the road, you'll probably be embarrassed too. Luckily,
you believe in a forgiving god and you can take it up with him."
From: William Gibbons Jr
Yes I do believe in a forgiving God. And, yes, I already took it up with Him, way back when I was still considering opting for the Green Party. In prayer, I offered that, as always, I would go whichever way He wished, if He would just let me know. For whatever reason, for whatever His purposes, this was the path I believe I was lead to. So, no, down the road, I will not be embarrassed to have faithfully responded to how I felt lead by God. I do not always get to look good. But every choice of the past two decades, and well beyond, was made in the same way. I did not always like how others treated me after such choices, but I have never been embarrassed by them. Does that mean I have gotten the instructions right 100% of the time? Not likely. But to the best of my ability, I try to listen and discern, even when the path seems contrary to my own rational thoughts. My poem Be Not Afraid, written twenty-five years ago, still says it all for me, and my journey.
Even on a rational thought basis, this quote from the article you sent sums up my concern. "That said, I’m concerned by efforts from some in the Democratic Party to move beyond the "safe, legal, and rare" posture on abortion to one that treats it as just another routine health procedure. (The recent "comedians in cars getting abortions" sketch is a troubling reflection of this trend.) I intend to speak out about this, and other concerning changes to the Democratic platform, and would encourage other pro-life progressives to do the same." The more I closely listened to Clinton, the more concerned I became that this was her path, not just with abortion, but with such things as gay marriage trumping religious freedom, and homosexuality taught in schools as just an alternative lifestyle anyone might like to consider.
Regarding your other points, here is my reply to Tom (President of the T&SC) . . .
. . . I am not overly concerned with permanent stains on my legacy. The only legacy I am concerned with is that I did my best to listen to and serve God. Like I tell Him, if I did not interpret this one correctly, just add it to the list. Thanks for the input.
From: Rev. Tom S. Jones, BCD, LMFT
Interesting political thoughts before the election. Thank you for encouraging people to think. I see the statistics slightly differently, as Planned Parenthood is also a source for birth control, and that has been proven to be the far more effective and humane way to reduce abortions. I believe the decreasing rates for abortion do have more to do with increased use of effective birth control practices, while at the same time, the protestors for Right To Life, generally young white males (who are the true cause of needing an abortion for the vast majority of abortions in the USA) do very little to actually prevent pregnant women from getting abortions, although they do induce a lot of guilt and shame. I am continually amazed at how people who claim to value Life are so slow to vote for policies that will actually provide for living people who have already been born, from education to affordable health care, to . . . I'm sure you get the idea.
Another reply made some similar points. I unfortunately did not expand on that piece of my pro-life choice viewpoint. But I think being truly pro-life does not stop at birth. It means that all people actually get to have a “life,” not just a poverty level existence. Jesus was very clear about it. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. House the homeless. Do not forget the prisoner in jail. If you have two coats, give one to somebody who has none. I think your point is perfectly valid. Years ago I was on the board of Shared Pregnancy in Lansing. I always told them to focus on what we were for, not what some might be against. The organization provides support throughout pregnancy, and for two years after the child is born, or until they can see the mother and child have an adequate support network in place.
I am not sure what the answer is to young white males. But that is a most valid point also. It all comes down to teaching and sharing. It is a slow process, but that is why the T&SC exists . . . I was not trying to get anyone to be pro-life who was not already there. And I know Planned Parenthood does a lot of good work, although its founder had some interesting reasons why it was formed. As the biggest abortion provider, they were simply the easiest to reference. I just want people to vote, so whichever way we go actually represents the mix of all Americans, not just the most vocal.
If I do a follow-up webpage of the emails received, and my replies to them, is it okay to include yours?
From: Rev. Tom S. Jones, BCD, LMFT [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sure, no trouble with including my response. I think the most important thing is to get people to think, and to hear "the other side," no matter which side they are on. And if more people think about what the most important issues are, they also may understand how these issues are connected to broader policies. I certainly will never confuse you with a closed-minded person who only repeats the sound bytes.
As is my custom, all of my email replies began by addressing the person by name. They have, for obvious reasons, been eliminated here. Any other identifying sentences, except in T&SC President Tom Jones' email, were also deleted, or rephrased. As stated in the beginning, the paragraphs about Shared Pregnancy, Planned Parenthood, and statements like not pushing for just pro-life voters but wanting all people to vote, appeared in many of my replies. Since I was summarizing along with quoting, and my main point of this page was to simply expand on concepts in the original, I felt no need to repeat each time something appeared in several emails. This feels completed to me. It accomplishes having my perspectives on abortion and homosexuality now available on my website. While I do not like conflict, I also do not wish to dance around controversial issues as if I had never given any substantial thought to them. The word abortion has been combined with the word choice for so long it sounds normal and acceptable in our culture. So let me finish as clearly, or bluntly, as I can. I do not support state sanctioned murder in any of its forms, regardless of how acceptable the official label makes it sound. For abortion in particular, if a mother were to hire someone to kill her one-week-old child, and dispose of it in a dumpster, most people would be shocked and outraged. I have never understood, how in the week before a child's birth, that very same action can be looked upon as just a choice she should have the right to make. Pertaining to other sanctioned killing, I understand that in the current condition of the world many see it as absolutely necessary, and that sometimes we seemingly benefit from its use. Such as the assassination of a top terrorist. But it never truly solves anything in the big picture, or the long run. Personal anger, frustration, and fears are part of my reality just like anyone else. Yet, I have learned that at some point you must let them go to advance spiritually, as well as practically. And, everything being said, free will choice is still a gift from God to all, and it is not my place to usurp it, even if I could. It is a different and difficult balance, this journey I have chosen. Should my perceptions change dramatically, I can always revisit the issues.
Now, concerning Trump. As I write this, Trump has already
stunned many by winning the election. For me, it was never really about Trump.
It was about if I was going to try to do my best to live what I say I believe,
even when a decision seemed almost impossible to make. How I was going to
live what I say I believe with so many contradictory positions for both candidates?
I paid more attention to the candidates in this election than in any other
I can remember. Although my vote was a reluctant one, I did see a few glimmers
of hope in Trump, beyond all the bravado and crassness in the campaign. Like
most, I did not think he had a chance of winning. But, he actually strikes
me as a person who considers many perspectives before making a decision. As
a novice in the world of politics, I pray God grants him the wisdom to not
get caught up in someone else's agenda, and to stay focused on being the president
for all Americans well-being, even those currently in the streets chanting
"not my president."
All throughout this process, a parable Jesus used kept coming to mind. Although I have thought of some possibilities, I am not entirely sure why. So, I am just going to share it here, for whatever it is worth. The parable goes on for an additional two verses further than this which was the part often in my thoughts.
The Parable of the Two Sons
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind [some translations 'thought better of it'] and went.
Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Quotes from the Supportive Responses:
I decided, after the fact (on December 8, 2016), to add some quotes from the positive replies I received:
"Thanks Bill. I finally got around to reading your whole post. Very well written. Often times for me my vote comes down to the abortion issue. I vote strictly based on it. All other things are relative. If they pass some dumb laws they'll be changed and over turned by the next party that gets into office. It has always been a very difficult and painful thing to know that my wife, kids, and [wife's] family are all Pro Choice. You're absolutely correct! It's a lie. A smoke screen. Flipping the issue around to say it's an issue of choice. The unborn child is not given a choice. People are being duped by telling them that people are just trying to take away their freedoms."
"Thank you! I know we don't talk much, but I wanted to let you know that I appreciate your willingness in sharing your opinions and the fact that you were, in my mind, led by God to speak. I will pray with you for the future of our country."
"Thanks for your input. I agree . . . . We must choose between one of the two "iffy" people . . . . I am going to vote again, and hope on a better outcome than we now have."
"Amen William! The statistics you cite are horrific. I have not voted for Hillary for more reasons than the issue of abortion. Yet those stats alone should be powerful enough to knock some sense into the hearts and minds of American voters."