There I Am Among Them, A WNCT Roundtable on Faith is a special 6 part series that takes a look at the hot topics of the day, viewed through the lens of faith.
A panel of 6 faith leaders from different sides on the religious spectrum shared their opinions and insight.
9 On Your Side gathered them together at the Greenville Museum of Art.
Over the course the last several months, it seems abortion has been in the headlines more and more and mostly over the General Assembly and Governor McCrory's law change. It stoked the fire in those with strong opinions.\
It's a social issue, with deep ties to religion. Is abortion murder? And when does life begin?
Faith leads many to the answers of those questions. But the Constitution's 1st Amendment separates religion from government.
So with our 1st conversation, is it fair for one faith to determine how people of all faiths should live?
“In Raleigh, we’ve seen a lot of protesting. Moral Mondays, what does faith teach us about reacting to another side that disagrees with what we think? Where you’ve got one party deciding that abortion’s gonna be this way and it’s vastly different of how you think you should be, what about abortion?” host Jeff Varner asked the roundtable participants.
“In this country, where we supposedly have freedom of religion, it’s unfortunate if one religious viewpoint takes over the government laws. For instance, in Judaism, the woman’s health, the woman’s life, an existing life takes precedence over a potential life. And that’s a very different viewpoint than other religions,” said Lay Leader Marsha Luhrs.
“So when does someone become a human. Is it at birth? Is it at viability or is it at conception? And how you answer that is going to determine your answer on abortion. For me, I think the easiest thing to say is that it’s at conception,” reckoned Pastor Jason McKnight.
“In Judaism, abortion is not considered murder. It is allowed. It’s even mandated in certain cases if the mother’s life, if the mother’s health is at risk,” explained Luhrs.
“You know, I held in my hand my 20-week old son who died in the womb just because the umbilical chord got, um, over at Vidant. [I] held him in my hand. He was just so cute. And he had his mouth open, so I know he was my kid because I’m always eating. But you know, I saw at 20 weeks and I saw hairs on his back, fingernails, and I’m like, man, there’s something special going on in the womb. It’s just amazing. It changes you. It’s not just an academic thing for me. I’m looking at this special little guy and it’s like, man, how can we protect and bring those little guys to full life,” McKnight asked.
“I would say, though, that we don’t want to turn to the Bible for scientific explanation,” commented Rev. Mark Sandlin.
“Well, I would say this isn’t science, this is theology,” replied McKnight.
“Oh, life is science,” Sandlin said.
“I would say life is theology, too though. Isn’t it? asked McKnight.
“The spirit is certainly theological,” asserted Sandlin.
“And the body is theological,” assured McKnight.
“It’s science,” insisted Sandlin.
“I mean the Jewish theology from the beginning of time is the physical,” McKnight countered.
“The Bible messes up on science all the time. All the time the Bible messes up on science. It was a pre-scientific age when it was written, so it’s not completely surprising. (Sure) so, that’s not what I personally don’t want to turn, one, to the Bible to figure out something scientific. Which is, when does life occur? Because I completely agree, that’s the real issue here. It’s how do we figure that spot out? Um, but more importantly, I don’t think that one faith should be trying to put that on people. I’m going go a step further and say I was just fine with just you talking because the rest of us are guys. This is a women’s issue, you need to be the lead voice in this,” commented Sandlin.
“I don’t know that it is a woman’s issue totally, though. No, no, well, go ahead Marsha,” interjected McKnight.
“Certainly I think the woman should have knowledge and understanding, and it’s their body and they have to make the decisions and live with it,” stated Luhrs.
“According to Islam, it is not your body. Our body, our soul, our resources and wealth, according to Islamic belief based on Quran and Islamic teaching, is not ours. It belongs to God Almighty, the creator,” explained Dr. Saeed Dar.
“I’m all for the protection of a woman’s life, you know, safety during birth and the childbirth process, but at the same time, I believe that conception is the origin of life. And we need to eliminate the desire to have an abortion. We need to educate people,” Pastor James Corbett explained.
“It seems like we’re in different places with that topic,” stated Varner.
“We are and I think society is. It’s become so emotional and the divide that is there and it’s hard to get down to the individual stories,” Father Bill Quigley asserted.
“That’s why Planned Parenthood, it’s horrible enough to cut all the Social Service and network programs after a child’s born, but even before. Planned Parenthood is being gutted. And that’s prevented so many abortions,” insisted Luhrs.
“I think a lot of this is beginning to walk that narrow line of how much of our faith systems do we legislate,” asked Sandlin.
“Is it fair to legislate with our faith,” asked Varner.
“I would think that everybody who votes on laws in every legislature across the land is voting according to their inner conscious, which is another word for their faith. So I would say to turn around and say, you can’t. I mean, nobody can go to the legislature because everybody is voting their faith,” remarked McKnight.