Of Poplars and Petri Dishes

Of poplars and petri dishesby John Ensor /

This is the second of three posts on abortion this week by John Ensor. The first is here, and the third will run on Saturday. Today, each attendee at the Evangelicals for Life Conference in Washington, DC, will receive a copy of John’s book, Innocent Blood: Challenging the Powers of Death with the Gospel of Life.

Between 1882 and 1968, nearly 3,500 Black Americans were lynched in the United States. Among them were Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, murdered in Marion, Indiana on August 7, 1930. The night before, they had been arrested and charged with the armed robbery and murder of a white man and the rape of a white woman. The case was never solved, partly because, with thousands in attendance, the men were hung from a tree in the town square on the night of their arrest.

Studio photographer Lawrence Beitler was there with his camera equipment and captured what has become the iconic image of lynching in America. (For this post, we chose to emphasize from that larger image the astonishing callousness of the onlookers). The photograph helped inspire the poem and song, “Strange Fruit,” by Abel Meeropol. Billie Holiday sang it with such gripping lamentation that her rendition is now part of the iconic history of civil rights.

Black bodies swingin’ in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees…

What is God’s response to the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith? Whom shall he hold accountable for their lifeblood? I’m not asking who should feel guilty. I’m talking about final judgment. Whom shall he hold liable for this blood-guilt on the Great Day? “For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted” (Psalm 9:11).

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The Whoopi Doctrine

The Whoopi Doctrineby John Ensor /

With the annual March for Life taking place on Friday, this is the first of three posts this week on abortion. The others will appear on Thursday and Saturday. Also on Thursday, each attendee at the Evangelicals for Life Conference in Washington, DC, will receive a copy of John Ensor’s book, Innocent Blood: Challenging the Powers of Death with the Gospel of Life.

On the occasion of Pope Francis’ arrival in the U.S. last summer, Whoopi Goldberg raised the question of abortion and the Bible. While many Americans do not acknowledge the Bible as an authoritative source, many of us do. And you can be sure that if the Bible affirmed abortion in any way, it would be quoted by secularists quite often. So the matter of what the Bible says about abortion is important.

Whoopi stated on The View, “Well, there’s nothing in the Book that says anything about abortion.” And I agree! If she means that nowhere in the Bible can you find the word “abortion,” she’s right on the money.

In saying this, she is echoing how a number of Christian clergy give their blessing to elective abortion. For example, Tom Davis, former Professor of Religion at Skidmore College, founding member of the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion, and author of Sacred Work: Planned Parenthood and Its Clergy Alliances, recently affirmed his position, saying “There is no law against abortion in the Bible….So when you don’t have a specific guidance on something, you look at what is the most human thing to do in a situation, what is most helpful and sometimes abortion is indicated.”

Interesting logic. Come to think of it, the Bible has “no law against” domestic violence, gay-bashing, lynching, or genocide, either. Are we to conclude, then, that in the absence of “specific guidance” these could be “sometimes indicated” as “the most human thing to do”?

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