Sunday, March 27, 2005

Why the Culture of Death Keeps Advancing: Christian Apathy and Ignorance Concerning Terri Schiavo

[cited materials will be in blue]

According to ABC poll data: (2nd link)

- 70% of Americans say it is inappropriate for Congress to involve itself in the Schiavo case.

- 67% of Americans “think the elected officials trying to keep Schiavo alive are doing so more for political advantage than out of concern for her or for the principles involved.” (Just 19% believe the elected officials are acting out of concern for her or their principles.)

The charge against Republicans here is self-contradictory and implausible. Politicians are always quite aware of public sentiment. So why would they be acting for purely political advantage if 19% of the public thinks they are acting for the right reasons? Therefore, it is exceedingly likely that they are not doing so, since it is clearly not to their political advantage.

- 58% of Republicans, 61% of independents and 63% of Democrats oppose federal government intervention in the case.

- 50% of evangelicals oppose federal government intervention in the case, just 44% approve of the intervention.

- 63% of Catholics and a plurality of evangelicals believe Schiavo’s feeding tube should be removed.
Another irony here is that congressional Republicans show themselves more ethically correct than Christians of any stripe, considered as a sociological whole, according to affiliation.

Ted Olsen, in a blistering, dead-on Christianity Today commentary (which also provides many great links), wrote:

"Growing up in the shadow of post-World War II America, and many remembrances of the Holocaust, I've often wondered what it must have been like in Nazi Germany for the nation to standby while evil was done in the name of kindness or eugenic ideology," says Touchstone's Ken Tanner. [name linked] "Now we all know how it can happen, what it feels like, and how helpless good people can be in the face of intentional evil."

Around the office over the last few months, we've been talking about the supposed triumph of the evangelical movement. Evangelicalism is now the dominant face of American Christianity . . .
And yet our country's courts are supporting an adulterer [link] to starve and dehydrate his wife to death while she lies helpless. And, apparently, she's aware [link] of what's happening, if you believe the Mayo Clinic's William P. Cheshire Jr. [link] But maybe you shouldn't, says The New York Times. After all, he's religious. [link] "He has to be bogus, a pro-life fanatic," University of Minnesota Medical School neurologist Ronald Cranford told the Times.

"Perhaps you've noticed other bloodless words being flipped at [Schiavo], words like 'viability' and phrases like 'pull the plug,'" writes the Chicago Tribune's John Kass. [link] "These words were once the issue of bloodless people, of clerks and sophists who can prove almost anything with their fine arguments. The rest of us have fed on them until they shape how we think, shaping our options, shaping our future. … Americans have finally been taught to think like bureaucrats." The real word for what's happening, he says, is murder.

According to an Associated Press release:

More than two-thirds of people who describe themselves as evangelicals and conservatives disapprove of the intervention by Congress and President Bush. [further link]

And here's another typical show of American illogic and inability to think coherently on ethics:

More than eight in 10 in that poll said they feel sympathy for Bob and Mary Schindler, parents of Schiavo, who want to keep her alive. And seven in 10 said they're sympathetic for Michael Schiavo, the husband of Schiavo who says she should be allowed to die.

If there is any good news in this sad, disgusting, outrageous tragedy, it is that consistent Christians, who hold to a common traditional moral worldview, are banding together. Laurie Goodstein wrote in the New York Times:

The outcry over Terri Schiavo is a testament to an alliance of conservative Roman Catholics and evangelicals who have found common cause in the "culture of life" agenda.

Alas, there are the usual questions about the polls being taken (examples one / two), but whatever the real numbers are, it is without doubt a scandalous outcome and a disgrace to Christianity and massive Christian ethical hypocrisy and stupefying ignorance. After all, if even a tiny number of committed Christians would not stand for this, and engage in civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance, this wouldn't even be an issue. This would and could never have happened. Let's all pray that that day will come soon.

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