The February 7, 1989 Rescue in Vancouver inevitably led the media to consult the academics, principally, to contradict the pro-lifers.  The Globe and Mail printed an attach by retired religious studies professor Leslie Dewart entitled “Uncivil disobedience”

(March 24), while earlier The Vancouver Sun had consulted Charles Anderson, Professor of Ethics at the Vancouver School of Theology, and Eike Kluge, a University of Victoria ethics professor.  Kluge is co-author, together with Ottawa lawyer Joseph Magnet, of the book Withholding Treatment from Defective Newborn Children, in which they advocate that the direct killing of some handicapped babies be legalized (see W. Prestwich “Lawyer advocates Nazi-style killing,” The Interim, January 1987).  Anderson is a typical specimen of university departments of Religious Studies; that is, secular, and hostile to Christian moral and doctrinal teaching.  Both are constantly consulted by government commissions.

Civil Rights

Anderson and Kluge both pounced on the pro-life observation that activists are following their consciences in a Christian tradition of civil disobedience like that of Martin Luther King. (“Abortion protesters criticized for citing ‘60s civil rights link,” Vancouver Sun, February 11, 1989).

“The civil rights movement in the US was much clearer than the abortion issue,” said Anderson. “It’s too facile to jump on Martin Luther King’s glory train and go along for the ride.” Nobody with any decency would deny that rejecting the human rights of blacks is evil, he declared. “But whichever way you decide on the abortion issue, you’re turning your back on another evil.” The anti-abortion protestors, he added, completely ignore social problems that cause women to have abortions. It’s not enough to say they have compassion. They have to demonstrate compassion.”

Kluge supplemented Anderson’s argument by putting forward the other standard attack on pro-life. According to him, those blocking the entrance to the abortion clinics are infringing on the democratic rights of others, and perhaps causing them psychological damage. When they claim to be protecting the rights of the fetus, he said, they are assuming the fetus is a person, something not yet proven, he thought, was that a woman has a democratic right to an abortion.

Two weeks later the Vancouver Sun carried another article entitled “Four churches explain views on abortion” (February 25). In the Sixties this used to be standard fare to show how “Christians” are not united and why, therefore, everyone may do his or her own thing. Fortunately, many people have grown beyond that and know how to distinguish those who peddle falsehoods.

United Church

The United Church spokesman coyly observed that his church “leans gently to the pro-choice side,” surely the understatement of the year. While even the United Church has its pro-lifers – thanks be to God – the church itself has thrown its weight overwhelmingly onto the side of those who approve a woman’s “right” to kill her pre-born child.

The error of comparing “churches” lies in the assumption that their views are of equal authority and value representing “Christian” theology. Nothing is further form the truth. The United Church’s approval of abortion is totally contrary to Christian theology. It is the product of sociologists anxious to conform to the secularism of the day.

Anglicans

In the art of compromise, the Anglicans occupy a special niche. Their mastery of doublespeak is unsurpassed. So, for example, the Rev. James Reed was quoted as saying that the Anglican position “is not pro-choice but pro-decision.” There are times, he stated, “when the cessation of life, although extremely regrettable, is the lesser of two evils.” Abortion decisions must be made “conscientiously,” he added, “by balancing moral principles against the context in which each pregnant woman finds herself.”

Today most pro-lifers know that the principle of the “lesser of two evils” does not apply to choosing an abortion. The principle only applies when a person has no choice of any kind and is forced to go one of two routes. The Christian teaching is that one may never choose an evil of one’s own free will. This is always the case with abortion at least in the West, though not in China where women are compelled to have abortions.

Rev. James Reed is the director of the Toronto School of Theology. Moreover, he is one of the three authors of the latest officially approved Anglican approval of abortion. (See review elsewhere.) It is safe to say that views such as Reed’s dominate the Toronto School of Theology not to mention the undergraduate Department of Religious Studies,

St. Augustine’s Seminary

The positions of these representatives of the academic world are worth taking account of in the view of the recent announcement that St. Augustine’s Seminary in Toronto has signed a new agreement with the Toronto School of Theology. The agreement resolves a five-year-old dispute, which began in 1984 when Cardinal Carter had allegations of homosexual behaviour at the seminary investigated and as a result dismissed the rector, the dean, and another professor. The above-mentioned Rev. Reed, as director of the Toronto School of Theology, hailed the new agreement as “a rather unusual blending of two kinds of authority, ecclesiastical and academic, in a university context.” Paul Gooch, Associate Dean of graduate Studies at eth University of Toronto, spelled out what the accord implies in more detail. The university has no interest in the ecclesiastical processes within the seminary, he said: “We were concerned with academic status within the new arrangement, he explained, academic competence can only be determined by other academics, not by ecclesiastical authorities, and lack of orthodoxy is not regarded as evidence of academic incompetence. But while a person exonerated on academic grounds cannot be fires, he can be assigned to different areas of teaching.

$4,500 per student

What does this mean? What are the pros and cons of the new agreement?

Affiliation with the University of Toronto has certain advantages for the seminary: It helps provide academic respectability and it makes the seminary eligible for Ontario government grants of $4,500 per student. But if the seminary cannot dismiss professors for lack of orthodoxy, it has lost control over them which it ought to have. No matter how many books and articles a man has written, he does not belong on the faculty of a Catholic seminary, for example, if he accepts abortion or homosexuality. When new appointments are made to St. Augustine’s, Professor Reed or his representative will undoubtedly be involved – in other words, people of mixed-up ethical views.

Have the Reeds, the Andersons, and the Kluges carried that day, even in Catholic seminaries? How many compromises are seminaries like St. Augustine’s going to have to make in the name of academic responsibility? It is truth, the Scripture tells us, which is supposed to set us free – not intellectual and moral skepticism.