Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Frank Schaeffer: “Why I Am a Pro-Life Obama Supporter”

Reprinted from The Huffington Post, the following article is by one of the founders of the pro-life movement, the son of the late Francis A. Schaeffer, Frank. BTW, although I later changed my mind about whether abortion should be illegal, I was profoundly moved as a teenager by Schaeffer’s Whatever Happened to the Human Race, and, like Frank Schaeffer, still agree about the moral conversion needed for this nation to be truly pro-life and not just anti-abortion. MLW-W


I am an Obama supporter. I am also pro-life. In fact, without my family’s involvement in the pro-life movement it would not exist as we know it. Evangelicals weren’t politicized until after my late father and evangelical leader Francis Schaeffer, Dr. Koop (Reagan’s soon-to-be Surgeon General) and I stirred them up over the issue of abortion in the mid-1970s. Our Whatever Happened to the Human Race? book, movie series and seminars brought the evangelicals into the pro-life movement.(Dad’s political influence persists. Last week one of my father’s followers — Mike Huckabee — was interviewed by Katie Couric, along with all the other presidential candidates. Couric asked the candidates if they were to be sent to a desert island and could only take one book besides the Bible, what would that that book be? Huckabee answered that he’d take my father’s book Whatever Happened To The Human Race?)

Fast forward…

In 2000, we elected a president who claimed he believed God created the earth and who, as president, put car manufacturers and oil company’s interests ahead of caring for that creation. We elected a pro-life Republican Congress that did nothing to actually care for pregnant women and babies. And they took their sincere evangelical followers for granted, and played them for suckers.

The so-called evangelical leadership — Dobson, Robertson et al. also played the pro-life community for suckers. While thousands of men and women in the crisis pregnancy movement gave of themselves to help women and babies, their evangelical “leaders” did little more than cash in on fundraising opportunities and represent themselves as power-brokers to the craven politicians willing to kowtow to them.

Fast forward…

Today when I listen to Obama speak (and to his remarkable wife, Michelle) what I hear is a world view that actually nurtures life. Obama is trying to lead this country to a place where the intrinsic worth of each individual is celebrated. A leader who believes in hope, the future, trying to save our planet and providing a just and good life for everyone is someone who is actually pro-life.

Conversely the “pro-life” ethic of George W. Bush manifested itself in a series of squandered opportunities to call us to our better natures. After 9/11, Bush told most Americans to go shopping while saddling the few who volunteered for military service with endless tours of duty (something I know a little about since my son was a Marine and deployed several times). The Bush doctrine of life was expressed by starting an unnecessary war in Iraq that has killed thousands of Americans and wounded tens of thousands more.

The society that Obama is calling us to sacrifice for is a place wherein life would be valued not just talked about. As he said in his speech delivered on February 6 in New Orleans, “Too often, we lose our sense of common destiny; that understanding that we are all tied together; that when a woman has less than nothing in this country, that makes us all poorer.” Obama was talking about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but his words also apply to our overall view of ourselves.

Regardless of the official position of the Supreme Court on abortion, a country in which all Americans are offered some sort of dignity and hopeful future would be a place conducive to the kind of optimism each of us must hold in our hearts if we are to welcome children into this world. But if our highest aspiration is to be a consumer with no thought or care for our neighbor, we will remain a culture in which abortion is not only inevitable but logical.

What we need in America is a spiritual rebirth, a turning away from the false value of consumerism and utilitarianism that have trumped every aspect of human life. To implement this vision we need leaders that inspire but to do so they have to be what they say they are. It’s not about policy it’s about character.

Obama’s rivals for the nomination — the Clintons — do not inspire. When the Clintons were in the White House they talked about humane values while Bill Clinton betrayed every single person who voted for him by carrying on an unseemly sexual dalliance in the Oval Office with a young woman barely out of her teens. Since that time the Clintons have enriched themselves through their connections to a point where they’re able to make a $5 million personal loan to their campaign.

For someone who says she has spent “the last 35 years of my life as an advocate for children” and/or “fighting for healthcare” that’s a lot of money to have collected through doing good works. Presidential Mother Teresa wannabes shouldn’t be doing deals with uranium mining outfits in Kazakhstan while schmoozing with the likes of President Nursultan Nazarbayev and wealthy mining magnates — not if they want the moral authority to lead.

Similarly the Republicans have also been hypocrites while talking big, for instance about their pro-life ethic. But what have they achieved? First, through their puritanical war on sex education they’ve hindered our country from actually preventing unwanted pregnancy. Second, through the Republican Party’s marriage to the greediest and most polluting earth-destroying corporations they’ve created a climate (both moral and physical) that has scorched the earth for-profit, with no regard to future generations whatsoever. The Republicans are to the pro-life movement what the Clintons are to selfless public service.

The real solution to abortion is to change the heart of America, not the law. We need to stop seeing ourselves as consumers. We need to stop seeing ourselves as me and begin to think of we. Our country needs someone to show us a better way, a president who is what he seems, someone with actual moral authority that our diverse population can believe in who has the qualities that make us want to follow him. Obama is that person.

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of “CRAZY FOR GOD — How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back”


February 8, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. […] Read more on Levellers – Frank Schaeffer: “Why I Am a Pro-Life Obama Supporter”. […]

    Pingback by Threads from Henry’s Web » Frank Schaeffer for Obama | February 8, 2008

  2. Michael,

    Let me start by agreeing wholeheatedly with you on this statement: “The real solution to abortion is to change the heart of America, not the law.” And to that end, Evangelicals have failed to some extent. Though I would certainly disagree with the statement,

    While thousands of men and women in the crisis pregnancy movement gave of themselves to help women and babies, their evangelical “leaders” did little more than cash in on fundraising opportunities and represent themselves as power-brokers to the craven politicians willing to kowtow to them.

    In fact, in Louisville, “A Woman’s Choice Resource Center” is doing the very thing you claim the Evangelical leadership has failed to do. Dozens of churches in the Louisville area have given sacrificially to support the efforts of this great organization, which provides food, clothing, and “baby needs” to hundreds of women each year. Additionally, they provide counseling for women who undergo intense trauma both during and after abortions (trama that has been categorically denied and systematically ignored by groups like Planned Parenthood, NOW, and NARAL).

    As for Obama, I do have a problem with the idea that he has moral authority on the issue of abortion. Obama voted against the Infants Born Alive Act stating the following:

    Number one, whenever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the Equal Protection Clause or the other elements in the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a — a child, a 9-month old — child that was delivered to term. That determination then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place. I mean, it — it would essentially bar abortions, because the Equal Protection Clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an anti-abortion statute.

    So Obama would rather allow a doctor to kill a child who has left the womb breathing and fully alive in order to protect late-term abortions (which should be outlawed simply for their cruelty) than to protect that human life?

    You see at that point, for me, he loses his “moral authority” and he becomes just as much an ideologue as the left claims anti-abortionists are.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | February 9, 2008

  3. Michael,

    I just realized that I said I agreed with “you”, but I should have said “Frank” in the opening line. Sorry if there was any confusion.

    Comment by D.R. Randle | February 9, 2008

  4. Man, what happened? I remember someone from my church brought in a tape of a Crisis Pregnancy Center dinner she attended, and Frank Schaeffer was speaking. He was criticizing abortion and calling for the abolition of public schools. Good stuff. Now, he’s endorsing OBAMA???

    Comment by James Pate | February 17, 2008

  5. James, I think Schaeffer explained himself, nicely. Obama supports Crisis Pregnancy Centers and other movements to make abortions rarer and he represents a political philosophy that supports life–despite his support for keeping abortion legal.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | February 18, 2008

  6. DR,

    I’m with you on where Obama loses me. Great point.

    Comment by BLM | February 24, 2008

  7. Thanks for posting this – I really liked the paragraph you put in bold.

    Comment by Byron | February 25, 2008

  8. Michael and everyone, I’ve been thinking more on this and would be interested in your feedback. I don’t want to high jack Michael’s post, so I wrote one at my place. My name links to it.


    Comment by BLM | March 1, 2008

  9. I thought being prolife meant that you believe innocent unborn babies deserve to be protected by the law. I’m glad to see this is not the case and that everyone believes that there is NOTHING unjust in killing unborn babies–they do not DESERVE the protection of the law. That’s why you can be “pro-life” and fully support Roe v. Wade.

    In other words, you can be “pro-life” and still not want to impose your personal or religoius beliefs on the rest of society. Just as you can be pro-civil rights for african-Americans and believe that restaurant owners can refuse to serve them. Not that I’m for discrimination against negroes, mind you, I’m just pro-choice.

    Comment by LMADDOX | March 6, 2008

  10. [b]”The real solution to abortion is to change the heart of America, not the law. We need to stop seeing ourselves as consumers. We need to stop seeing ourselves as me and begin to think of we. Our country needs someone to show us a better way, a president who is what he seems, someone with actual moral authority that our diverse population can believe in who has the qualities that make us want to follow him. Obama is that person.”[/b]

    What happens if a society can not change the heart? A society must stand upon a law… ‘actual moral authority’? Obama is not that person!



    Comment by brother malachi | June 22, 2008

  11. Please comment on my post at http://waxingpoetically.today.com/2008/06/25/the-pickle-of-a-pro-life-libertarian/
    I’d be interesting in your take.

    Comment by Mike | August 29, 2008

  12. I applaud Frank Schaeffer for his well balanced and insightful article. For far too long a majority of evangelicals in the U.S. have singled out the abortion issue and a rather simplistic view of what it means to be pro-life as the only relevant and decisive issue when it comes to choosing the next president. The Republican party has gratefully accepted this blank cheque from a majority of evangelicals without even attempting to challenge the status quo after winning elections with their crucial support. Sure, we hear a lot of talk from Republicans about God, faith, being born again and living moral lives, but at the same time they are also more than willing to tap into bigotry and hatred and use shameful smear campaigns just to garner votes, not to mention the prevailing willingness to divide humanity into the good and the bad. I often ask myself how so many dedicated Christians favoring the Republican party seem to be oblivious to the fact that the “axis of evil” they speak of runs right through our own hearts. I pray America will finally be blessed with a president whose actions will be more in line with God’s truth and that evangelical voters won’t be blinded again by empty words and promises that only profess allegiance to biblical values when it’s opportune to do so. It would benefit the United States and it’s international reputation, and it may also help restore some of the credibility evangelicals have lost because of the unholy one-sided alliances of the past.

    Comment by Josh | October 20, 2008

  13. If you can watch this video by film star Eduardo Verastegui and still be an Obama supporter, then you are not pro-life. Pure and simple.


    I challenge all of you supposedly pro-life Obama supporters to watch it and report back.

    Comment by florentius | October 21, 2008

  14. You cannot vote for Obama and be pro-life. It really is as simple as that. No amount of verbiage or rationalization or moral relativity will make it so. How sad.

    Comment by Glynn | November 9, 2008

  15. I agree with Schaeffer on one point: Christians seem to have a choice. Are we going to crawl into bed with Obama and Planned Parenthood, who were invited to speak at the Democratic Convention, and the ACLU which fights religious belief at ever turn? Or are we going to crawl into bed with big business, wall street and all the other people white Republicans supposedly represent? As for me, I can never crawl into bed with PP. As much as I hate the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I remember that more lives are lost in America to abortion in one day than were lost in several years of war, and Planned Parenthood is the number one abortion provider funded with our tax dollars. I’m disappointed in the ineffectiveness of the Repulicans in power, yet fear for what the Democrats will do with that same power.

    Comment by LisaO | November 15, 2008

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