WASHINGTON (BP)–Two Southern Baptist leaders have joined more than 150 other pro-lifers in endorsing a call for building a “culture of life” that includes a goal of reducing by 50 percent the number of abortions in the United States by 2005.
Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, were among those who signed on to “Building a Culture of Life: A Call to Respect Human Dignity in American Life.” The Family Research Council produced the document.
The nine-page document calls for both cultural and public policy changes in the United States that would result in “a country that respects the inherent worth of every human being,” regardless of the condition of that person. It establishes three goals by which to gauge progress in the effort:
— To decrease by half the rate of abortion by 2005.
— To provide care and government protection to “the weak and the vulnerable.”
— To preclude the debasing of human dignity that results from research that threatens or destroys life.
The statement’s recommended actions for reducing the abortion rate include strengthening the services of crisis pregnancy centers, educating women about the health risks of abortion, and promoting marriage and sexual abstinence until marriage. It also calls for adoption of government policies to end tax funding for abortion, to protect parental rights in the medical decisions of minors, and to ban partial-birth abortion and the killing of babies that survive abortion.
To protect “the weak and vulnerable,” the signers pledged to seek to volunteer at nursing homes and hospices, to promote the adoption of children in foster care, to encourage parents not to use prenatal testing to destroy impaired children and to educate medical professionals about pain control for the critically and terminally ill. They also called for tax relief for families caring for elderly and ailing members.
The document calls for universities to reject research that destroys or manipulates human embryos, as well as prohibitions on all human cloning, including that of embryos, and on embryonic stem-cell research and fetal-tissue experimentation.
The statement proclaims the family, which it calls the “nursery of virtues,” as a key to establishing a culture of life. “A culture of life is cradled in the arms of marriage,” it says.
“By embracing anew a culture of life — rooted in the restoration of marriage and family, compassionate care for the elderly and frail, resistance to the abortion license and principled opposition to unethical scientific research — we can lay the foundation for a true culture of life,” the statement says.
In an April 18 news conference coinciding with release of the statement, American Catholic Council President Connie Marshner said, according to CNSNews.com, in order for the United States to be a culture of life it needs “to move from being a culture of self-gratification to one of self-giving.”
In addition to Land and Mohler, others endorsing the statement included Focus on the Family President James Dobson, FRC President Ken Connor, Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson, Christian Legal Society Executive Director Sam Casey, Princeton University professors Robert George and Max Stackhouse; author Tony Campolo; Christian Medical Association Executive Director David Stevens; Life Issues Institute founder Jack Willke; author/speaker Ravi Zacharias; Coral Ridge Ministries founder James Kennedy; author/commentator Michael Medved; University of Chicago professor Jean Bethke Elshtain; Emory University professor Elizabeth Fox-Genovese; Georgetown University professor Edmund Pellegrino; and former baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn.