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Personal disclaimer: I was alerted to two local news articles this morning and struggled with whether or not I should share them with you because of the personal connections as you will soon see. After conferring with others and checking my heart, I am going to share them. If I did not know the individuals involved, I would have done a post on this topic anyway, as this is something that has been touching my heart lately with regard to what is going on in “churchianity” or religiosity vs Christianity.
In both articles, the media is drawing attention to the civil rights issue, questioning whether women are being civilly violated by the protesting done at a local abortion clinic by a name familiar to my regular readers. The first article is Video Games on Lovejoy by Sara Sneath of Willamette Week, a news media outlet from Portland, Oregon.
State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian says he has started an informal inquiry into the Lovejoy Surgicenter protesters under Oregon’s laws banning discrimination and requiring “full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of any place of public accommodation.”
It’s the same law state officials use to prohibit discrimination based on race, religion or sexual orientation.
The article describes Pastor Chuck O’Neal’s recent protests at the clinic:
Pastor Chuck O’Neal paces in front of Lovejoy Surgicenter, the Northwest Portland abortion clinic, wearing shorts, a black backpack and a wireless microphone. Members of O’Neal’s Beaverton Grace Bible Church, including two teenage boys, stand with signs that read “Criminalize Abortion” and “Babies Are Murdered Here.”
O’Neal has a video camera aimed at the clinic’s front door—he posts footage from the protests on his church’s website—but he insists he’s not trying to intimidate Lovejoy Surgicenter’s patients or staff.
“We’re recording what’s taking place here,” he says. “But what’s taking place inside is the murder of babies.”
One more story was released from another local news outlet, The Oregonian: State informally investigating protests at abortion clinic in Northwest Portland.
Chuck O’Neal, pastor of Beaverton Grace Bible Church, has visited the Northwest Portland center to preach on the sidewalk about once a week for several months, he said. Sometimes he is joined by five or six members of his church or other churches, he said.
“It’s not really a protest,” O’Neal said. “It is a consistent biblical ministry of the law and the gospel.”
The church has posted videos dating back to April on its website of O’Neal speaking outside the clinic.
A bureau employee saw protests outside the clinic on the way to work and notified the bureau’s civil rights division, Burr said. The bureau has interviewed clinic staff and neighbors and watched the protesters, he said.
This is what I’d like to focus on:
In one video posted on the church’s website, a woman outside the clinic holds up a sign that reads, “Beaverton Grace Bible Church intimidates women.”
In response, O’Neal can be heard saying to her: “If you’re a woman who murders children, ma’am, or aids in the murder of children, then I definitely would want you intimidated, that you wouldn’t do that. But our purpose is not to intimidate you. Our purpose is to love you and to warn you of the wrath to come.”
After reading the articles, I knew where this was headed based on previous behavior. Sure enough, it happened. Chuck O’Neal was very quick to tweet about these news reports. Not only is he tweeting about them, but he is tagging key people to alert them of the situation.
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His friend, popular street evangelist, Tony Miano, saw the above tweets and now has arranged an interview with Chuck O’Neal on Sunday:
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There’s a very good chance this story might get national attention just as Tony Miano’s story got national attention when he was arrested for street evangelizing and preaching against homosexuality in Wimbledon recently.
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Many in the Christian community would label Miano’s arrest as being persecuted for Christ. O’Neal’s situation could be going the same direction if the story gets picked up by the media, particularly the Christian media.
I do not like hearing about the abortion of unborn babies. Women who are faced with unwanted pregnancies are in a difficult place, sometimes in a crisis. I fail to see how protesting at an abortion clinic is going to cause someone to change their minds or help her see the love of Christ. Where is the genuine care and compassion that will draw a woman and soften her heart towards one who has sacrificed time, effort, and even financial resources with her in her time of crisis? It makes me sad to see this kind of display. I want to say: show me the love!
Eric Fry posted an excellent comment yesterday. I think these words pertain to the heart of what I want to focus on.
Agape love cannot flourish in people’s lives in the presence of hate. Love X/Hate Y is an expression of that dualism that is taking over in American religious thought. We are not God who can fully actualize “Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated” (which doesn’t really mean that in Hebrew idiom), we are humans seeking to become like Christ. What fellowship do love and hate have? The same fellowship as Christ and Belial: None at all. Very few, if any, people can completely differentiate people from sins or systems, so bringing hate into the equation at any level causes people to act in manners that are contrary to love. We walk away from peacemaking and reconciliation, create out-groups and scapegoats, while gleefully sacrificing people and their hearts on the altar of our smug self-righteousness.
Jesus told the Pharisees to go and learn what “I DESIRE MERCY, NOT SACRIFICE” means. Mercy comes from love; sacrifice of others comes from hate. The Psalmist wrote, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Contrite comes from the Latin root meaning “to crush to pieces.” It’s not our job to create these broken spirits and crushed hearts in others for them to come to God. Rather, we show mercy and love so that others may see Christ in our actions and become open to God creating that holy pain within them.
Is this what the Church in general is doing today? I don’t think so, and I think that atheists and agnostics would agree, which is a sad statement on the state of the Church today. It’s as if we’ve turned around the words of the blind man: “All we know is we could see, but now we’re blind.”
So . . . . where is Jesus in all of this megaphone, sign-holding, “street-evangelizing,” videotaping, and uploading to SermonAudio.com or YouTube? Did they get permission from the women to be videotaped and publicized? Where is Jesus in all of this tweeting and tagging people and drawing attention to the breaking news story? Furthermore, where was Jesus in all of this: Beaverton Grace Bible Church and Pastor Chuck O’Neal – A Year after They Lost the Defamation Lawsuit“
I see the focus on one person, alrighty, and it ain’t on Jesus.
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