Instilling Pro-Life Moral Principles in Difficult Times: The Experience of One Faith Community

By Wardle, Lynn D. | Ave Maria Law Review, Spring 2013 | Go to article overview

Instilling Pro-Life Moral Principles in Difficult Times: The Experience of One Faith Community


Wardle, Lynn D., Ave Maria Law Review


OUTLINE  I.       INTRODUCTION: THE CHALLENGE TO FAITH COMMUNITIES OF          MAINTAINING HIGH PRO-LIFE PRINCIPLES IN AN AGE (AND          SOCIETY) WITH LOW MORAL STANDARDS  II.      THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE AND          LEGALITY OF ELECTIVE ABORTION IN THE UNITED STATES OF          AMERICA, 1960-2010        A. The Transformation in American Public Opinion, Both          Secular and Religious        B. Efforts to Suppress, Censor, and Punish Pro-Life Free          Speech in the USA  III.  THE ORGANIZATION, HISTORY, DOCTRINE, THEOLOGY, AND       POLICIES OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY       SAINTS CONCERNING ELECTIVE ABORTION        A. Organization of the LDS Church, its Leadership, and the          Importance of Teaching       B. Teaching Correct Principles       C. The LDS Church's Official Position on Elective Abortion       D. Nineteenth Century LDS Condemnation and Rejection of          Elective Abortion       E. LDS Church's Response to the Movement to Legalize and          Socially Accept Elective Abortion in Since 1960.       F. Six Doctrinal Themes Emphasized by LDS Church Leaders       G. Enforcement of the LDS Policy Rejecting Elective Abortion       H. LDS Church Positions on the Legalization of Elective Abortion       I. Foundational Theological and Moral Principles Underlying          LDS Doctrines and Policies Regarding Elective Abortion       J. LDS Teachings About Abortion Are Consistent with Biblical          Judeo-Christianity   IV.  MORMONS' SUPPORT FOR AND ADHERENCE TO CHURCH       OPPOSITION TO ELECTIVE ABORTION   V.   CONTRASTING CHURCH OPPOSITION TO ELECTIVE ABORTION       WITH ITS POSITIONS ON OTHER BIOMEDICAL ETHICAL ISSUES   VI.  THE POWER OF THE WORD OF GOD: HOW TO CREATE AND MAINTAIN       A STRONG CLOTURE OF LIFE IN A RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY  VII.  THE LARGER SOCIAL IMPACT OF PRO-LIFE EXPRESSION WITHIN       AND BY FAITH COMMUNITIES  VIII. CONCLUSION: THE MIRACLES OF THE MESSAGE AND       MODERN COMMUNICATIONS 

"I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves." (1)

I. INTRODUCTION: THE CHALLENGE TO FAITH COMMUNITIES OF MAINTAINING HIGH PRO-LIFE PRINCIPLES IN AN AGE (AND SOCIETY) WITH LOW MORAL STANDARDS

One of the challenges facing any cultural community is to maintain and transmit from one generation to another commitment to moral principles, policies, and personal behaviors that are inconsistent with social values and practices that have become generally-accepted and widely-practiced. For example, how do church leaders create and nurture a faith community that maintains, with integrity, high moral standards in principle and in practice relating to behaviors, like elective abortion, (2) that it considers to be fundamentally immoral when such behaviors are becoming, or have become, socially popular?

The challenge of cultivating a culture of respect for the sanctity of life in a particular cultural community is compounded by persistent, socially-tolerated efforts to suppress pro-life free speech. Censorial tactics range from the private to the public, from failures to extend ordinary respect and basic legal protections, privileges, and equal treatment to pro-life expressions, to positive attempts to intimidate, punish, suppress, and silence pro-life expressions. (3) The reason why efforts to stifle and gag the communication of pro-life information, beliefs, and arguments are so constant is precisely because opponents of those positions know that pro-life expressions can be powerful and effective deterrents to abortion and to popular support of elective abortion.

This Article describes and discusses how one particular faith community--the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (herein sometimes "the Church" or "the LDS Church")--has responded to the challenge of social acceptance and legitimation of elective abortion. Elective abortion, which is contrary to long-established moral precepts taught by the LDS Church (and by Christianity in general for millennia), is a prominent example of a human behavior and social practice that once was socially proscribed and condemned as immoral but which, in recent decades, has become socially accepted and widely practiced in the United States. …

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