Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Salvation Army & Abortion

The USA branch of the Salvation Army is trying to head off a marketing disaster after the Salvation Army’s International Social Justice Commission published a position paper in December which encourages the tolerance of abortion in cases of rape, incest or when the preborn child has a "foetal abnormality."

The Salvation Army knows this will disappoint and infuriate Americans who take their pro-life convictions seriously -- and that will mean a lot fewer dollars dropped into those red kettles.

But though the American branch has expressed frustration with the position paper coming out of Europe, I believe its own position is cause for serious worry by pro-life advocates too.

The position on abortion taken by the USA branch of the Salvation Army includes these paragraphs:

The Salvation Army believes in the sanctity of all human life and considers each person to be of infinite value and each life a gift from God to be cherished, nurtured and redeemed. Human life is sacred because it is made in the image of God and has an eternal destiny. (Genesis 1:27) Sacredness is not conferred, nor can it be taken away by human agreement. The Salvation Army deplores society’s ready acceptance of abortion, which reflects insufficient concern for vulnerable persons, including the unborn. (Psalms 82:3-4)

It is opposed to abortion as a means of birth control, family planning, sex selection or for any reason of mere convenience to avoid the responsibility for conception. Therefore, when an unwanted pregnancy occurs, The Salvation Army advises that the situation be accepted and that the pregnancy be carried to term, and offers supportive help and assistance with planning.

The Salvation Army recognizes tragic and perplexing circumstances that require difficult decisions regarding a pregnancy. Such decisions should be made only after prayerful and thoughtful consideration, with appropriate involvement of the woman's family and pastoral, medical and other counsel. A woman in these circumstances needs acceptance, love and compassion.

I'm certainly not thrilled with the rhetoric of this public statement. Nor am I convinced it plays out much differently than what the international branch projects. No, the USA Salvation Army's deploring "society's ready acceptance" of abortion but not insisting on its outright abolition is too much like the liberal rhetoric of "safe, legal and rare." Furthermore, the Army door seems wide open to accepting those abortions which involve "tragic and perplexing circumstances" as long as the subsequent abortion (that's what "such decisions" clearly means) is a matter of consensus between all parties involved -- except, of course, the baby.

So yes, I'm very disturbed by the new publication from the international branch of the Salvation Army. But I don't find a lot of comfort in the position taken by the American branch either.