Tag Archive: Abortion

The Infamous Fundamentalist Susan-Anne White Has Given Up on Blogging

susan ann white quits blogging

Susan-Anne White, an aging British Fundamentalist politician and blogger, has decided to hang up the spurs she uses to ride homosexuals bareback. No longer will she bless the world with her anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion screeds. No longer will she parade before all the world her bigotry and hatred for anything and everything that doesn’t align with her narrow Evangelical worldview. Susan-Anne — dare I be so familiar? she hates it when I am — has been featured several times on this site, and she has graced us with her comments on more than one occasion.  Please check out Susan-Anne White Thinks I’m a Despicable, Obnoxious, Militant, Hateful AtheistBritish Fundamentalist Susan-Anne White’s List of Politically Correct Words, and The BRCA1 and BRCA2 Gene: Susan-Anne White Condemns Women Who Have Preemptive Surgery.

For those of you who are not familiar with White, here is what Wikipedia has to say about her:

Susan-Anne White (born 21 April 1959, Belfast, Northern Ireland) is a Christian activist in County Tyrone. She stood for election to the local council in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council election, 2014 and only got 67 votes. She contested the West Tyrone constituency in the 2015 General Election, but came ninth out of nine candidates with 166 votes, behind Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol.

Originally from Newtownabbey, she moved to Trillick in 1997. Her campaign is based on 10 principles drawn up by Dr Alan Clifford, a Norwich based minister whose anti-gay and anti-Islam rants have led to police investigations in the past.

She has aroused attention because of her strong and isolating views. She describes herself as biblically correct, not politically correct.

She says she would “recriminalise homosexuality”, given the chance and claims that gay people “are not born that way, they are out to recruit. We are in danger. One demand after another.” She is opposed to the idea of gay people being allowed to donate blood. She would also make adultery a criminal offence, and is critical of rock music because “The lyrics are promoting immorality, the noise is deafening, and they also promote anarchy.”

Her 2015 manifesto promises to “oppose the global warming fanatics and their pseudo science” and “restore the concept of a family wage with the father as the breadwinner.” She told the Belfast Telegraph: “I don’t consider myself extreme – not at all. “It is society that has moved. Not so far in the past, most people would have shared my views.My views are extreme because society has moved away from God’s principles.” She opposes feminism “with all her might”, and says it is to blame for the recession. “They [feminists] are responsible for the economy – they destroyed the whole concept of a family wage with the father as the bread-winner and the stay-at-home mother. Women feel they have to be out in the workforce.”

On 25 October 2017, White appeared on Nolan Live in which she expressed her opinion regarding abortion laws in Northern Ireland. White was criticised in the press following her appearance, with the BBC also facing criticism for giving her a platform.

In 2015, White released her Manifesto — a statement of religious and political beliefs :

susan-anne-white-manifesto

Here’s the text of her Biblically Correct, NOT Politically Correct Manifesto:

  • Close Marie Stopes Abortion clinic
  • Oppose the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland
  • Remove state-sponsored amoral sex education from schools
  • Restore corporal punishment to schools
  • Uphold parental rights to discipline children, including the right to smack
  • Raise the age of consent to 18
  • Make it an offense for doctors to give contraceptives to underage children
  • Oppose the LGBT agenda, while showing compassion to those who struggle with gender confusion
  • Oppose the redefinition of marriage
  • Ban gay pride parades and recriminalise homosexuality
  • Stop the state funding of LGBT organisations
  • Make adultery a punishable offense
  • Abolish the Equality Commission NI and the Human Rights Commissions NI and give all the money they receive to the NHS.
  • Oppose feminism and restore dignity to the stay at home mother
  • Restore the concept of a family wage with the father as the breadwinner
  • Oppose the legalisation of dangerous drugs
  • Protest the NHS and increase funding by abolishing unnecessary and money wasting bureaucrats and quangos
  • Withdraw from money wasting and decadent Europe
  • Oppose the global warming fanatics and their pseudo-science
  • Imprison those found guilty of animal cruelty including those involved in dog fights
  • Install CCTV in all abattoirs
  • Ban halal slaughter
  • Oppose the Islamisation of British culture- no more mosques and no more extensions
  • Restore capital punishment for murder, including terrorist murder

White and I do agree on animal cruelty. Woo Hoo!

Susan-Anne White, a True Christian, So True She Can’t Find Any Church Pure Enough For Her

In 2016, White shared her thoughts with The Newsletter — a British (Northern Island) publication. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

An evangelical Christian, self-styled moral crusader and would-be politician, Susan-Anne White is on a mission to stem what she sees as the polluted tide of the permissive society.

Mrs White became a target of ridicule when she stood as an independent candidate in the recent Assembly elections with a manifesto which featured pledges to jail gay people and adulterers, oppose abortion, uphold parents’ rights to smack their children and abolish the Equality Commission and the Human Rights Commission.

It also reflected her opposition to sex education in schools, the ‘Islamification of British culture’, the LGBT agenda and her support for the reintroduction of capital punishment for murder.

It’s an eyebrow-raising list which many found outmoded and inflammatory; at the time social media went into overdrive, portraying Mrs White as a meddling, narrow-minded, Bible-thumping, battle-axe. I was intrigued to meet this seemingly formidable lady and she agreed on certain provisos: that I would ‘‘dress modestly’’ for the interview (make-up and revealing clothes are major bugbears); I would not paint her as a ‘‘figure of fun’’; and she wanted assurances that I was not out to promote a feminist agenda (the name of this section, ‘Woman to Woman’, caused her some concern).

Dressed demurely in a floaty, ankle-grazing skirt, Mrs White, 57, welcomed me into her modest Trillick home with tea and biscuits. She lives on a small farm with her husband Francis, a helpmate in her campaigns, and 17-year-old daughter Abigail, who is home-schooled and passes the time doing jigsaw puzzles and drawings of Disney characters.

….

The White’s lead a modest, quiet life, with no television, only a screen for DVDs, and no alcohol. Sundays are sacrosanct, although they rarely attend a church, preferring instead to listen to sermons on the internet. ‘‘Once strong Bible-believing churches are more often than not going the way of the world, they are watering down the message to please people, not to cause offence, they are so afraid today of telling it like it is because of hate crimes laws,’’ she says. ‘‘If I was worried about people’s delicate sensibilities I would never open my mouth.’’

Of the Catholic church, and others, she is unequivocal.

‘‘I do not consider it a Christian church and yet it was the church I was born into. But I am not singling out the Catholic church, there are many so-called Christian sects or denominations, but they are not Christian, because they have deviated from the Bible. Mormonism is not a Christian church, they are a cult. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christians, the Seventh Day Adventists are not Christians.’’

….

‘‘For people to treat me as some dimwit and to laugh and mock and think they are going to get some collateral out of me by poking fun at me, I feel righteous anger at that, because I am no fool.

‘‘I believe I’m in a war, a spiritual war and I believe there are enemies out there, they are enemies of God and because I’m on the Lord’s side they are my enemies also.’’

Mrs White said she would ‘‘recriminalise homosexuality tomorrow’’ if she had the power, adding her stance is quite soft compared to some.

‘‘I can point you to pastors and ministers in the United States of America who are calling for the death penalty.’’

Is that something she would like to see?

‘‘No, but it actually was a death penalty offence. In the Old Testament under the law of Moses adulterers were executed and homosexuals were executed.

‘‘I wouldn’t call for their execution, but I would call for their imprisonment,’’ she says firmly.

Mrs White does not believe someone is born gay, but that people are ‘brainwashed’ or ‘recruited’ into homosexuality, or have even been ‘‘molested as children’’.

‘‘I don’t like that word ‘gay’. To me gay means happy. They have hijacked that lovely word; they have ruined language.

‘‘Behind closed doors they are killing each other…..the sexual proclivities of homosexuals is so abhorrent and damaging to the human body that it hardly bears description. Sodomy is such an unnatural act, the body was not made for sodomy.’’

Despite these fervent views, she says she does not hate homosexuals.

‘‘No, I don’t hate them, I pity them. I know they hate me. I actually have tremendous compassion for them, especially the young ones caught up in that lifestyle.’’

You can read the entire article here.

White has what I call the “Elijah Syndrome.” I mentioned her in a 2016 post titled Evangelical Preachers and the Elijah Syndrome:

Every time I think of this story [ 1 Kings 19] I am reminded of the fact that a lot of Evangelical preachers see themselves as some sort of modern-day Elijah. And like Elijah, each thinks he is the one remaining prophet in the community standing up for God, the Bible, and Evangelical morality. Such preachers delude themselves into thinking that they alone are standing true, that they alone are preaching the right message. Some of these preachers, men such as Robert Lyte and AW Pink, think that the Christian church is so morally compromised that they can no longer in good conscience be a part of it (Susan-Anne White would another example of this, even though she doesn’t claim to be a preacher).

Video Link

Please do take the time to watch the video. It’s only 3 minutes long, and it perfectly explains what I write next.

Much like twentieth century Evangelical preacher A.W. Pink who secluded himself in a coastal British community because he couldn’t find a church pure enough for him, White rarely attends church, finding fault with the lot of them. White will go to her grave believing that she was right; that she was a standard bearer for Jesus; that her beliefs constitute THE way, THE truth, and THE life. I truly feel sorry for her, missing out on so much of what life has to offer; missing out on befriending wonderful LGBTQ people; missing out on the wonders and pleasures of life, all because she thinks an ancient religious text (the Bible) and a little voice in her head (the Holy Spirit) tell her not to.

White started blogging in 2012.  In a July 7, 2018 post, White said she was ending her blogging career:

We are closing our blog with immediate effect.

We will, from now on, watch with aching hearts God giving society over and giving it up to vile affections.

Society is doomed and divine judgement is sure.

We will no longer “cast our pearls before swine.”

We trust our labours in the Lord were not in vain.

We will now take our leave.

White has given up, choosing instead to stand on the sidelines and watch as God judges a world given over to vile affections. (Romans 1) According to White, people such as myself are swine and she refuses any longer to cast her wisdom-filled blog posts our way. White hopes that her “labours in the Lord” were not in vain. This is what Evangelical preachers and Christian zealots say when their works have had no effect. Well, Praise Jesus, God’s keeping record, and come judgment day he will reward me for faithfully preaching hate and bigotry. Countless Evangelical Christians wrongly believe that their God is going to reward them for being nasty, judgmental people. Look at me Lord, I stood true as rail for your Word and your cause. And Jesus will say to them on that day (Matthew 25:31-46):

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

The late Keith Green said it best in his song Matthew 25:

Video Link

Bruce, aren’t you an atheist? You don’t believe there is a God, judgment, or afterlife. No, I don’t. But, White does, and I want her to think about her life from a Christian perspective and how she has wasted it hating and trying to harm people different from her. White wasn’t born this way; her religion turned her into what she is today. All too soon, White will go the way of all men, joining atheists, LGBTQ people, Catholics, Episcopalians, liberal Christians, abortionists, and Muslims in the dirt of the earth, serving up food for the worms that will slowly eat her body. Left behind will be White’s nineteen-year-old daughter. She has, I am sure, been deeply affected by her parent’s violent Christian Fundamentalism. It’s not too late to keep her from turning into her mother. If Susan-Anne would only repent and change her ways, she could put an end to her abominable legacy — much as my wife and I did when we left Christianity. The Evangelical curse was broken, and now our children free. To Susan-Anne I say, think of your daughter and set her free.

It is only in this life we can effect change. Once we die there are no second chances, no do-overs. There’s no God, no afterlife, no eternal rewards in Heaven or judgment in Hell; just eternal, endless death and nothingness. White admits her words and behavior have not elicited societal change. Perhaps there’s a messaging problem. Maybe, just maybe, White is worshiping the wrong God. I understand her not wanting to be an atheist like me, but there’s all sorts of Christianities out there that promote love, kindness, decency, and respect. Susan-Anne, for the sake of your daughter, please change your ways.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Religion, Death, and the Afterlife: St. Catherine of Alexandria, Columbia City, Indiana

st catherine of alexandria columbia city indiana 2018 (6)

As many of you know, Polly and I travel the highways and byways of Northwest Ohio, Northeast Indiana, and Southeast Michigan looking for photography opportunities. I have developed an interest in how we as Americans — particularly Midwesterners — memorialize life and death.  Of special interest is the various means religious people use to remember the dead. This interest might seem odd for someone who is an atheist, but I am attracted to roadside memorials and cemeteries. From time to time, I plan to share a few of the photographs I’ve shot while stalking death.

I shot these photographs at the St. Catherine of Alexandria in Columbia City, Indiana.

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HB565: Ohio Republicans Take ‘Abortion is Murder’ to its Logical Conclusion

craig-riedel-quote-on-abortion

Ohio Republicans introduced a new bill yesterday that takes the phrase ‘abortion is murder’ to its logical conclusion. HB565 outlaws all abortions and makes performing or having one a capital offense. The bill also does away with exceptions for rape, incest, or the life of the mother.  One of the bill’s sponsors is Craig Riedel, state representative for District 82. Riedel is my representative and lives in nearby Defiance, Ohio. Riedel, a Catholic, is stridently anti-abortion, so it comes as no surprise that he is one of the sponsors of HB565. Riedel was also instrumental in the recent passage of HB214, a law that criminalizes doctors performing abortions on women whose fetuses have Down Syndrome.

HB565 doesn’t surprise me in the least. The Ohio legislature is controlled by a super-majority of staunch, right-wing, anti-abortion Republicans. These Republicans make Governor John Kasich look like a liberal. The only way to repel their attacks on abortion rights is to run them out of office and replace them with men and women who put people before religion. Make no mistake about it, the assault on abortion is religiously driven, primarily by Evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and Mormons. Only those with minds sotted with religious delusions would criminalize abortion and make it a capital crime. Only the Craig Riedels of the world put God and theological dogma before women’s health.

I hope my fellow Ohioans are paying attention to the anti-abortion spectacle currently on display in Columbus. Far too many of us wrongly think that the people who wave signs that say, God is pro-life and abortion is murder, are ignorant, harmless country bumpkins. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ohio is primarily a rural state, and people who live in small communities such as Ney, Bryan, Defiance, Hicksville, and countless other places, have been voting into office right-wing Republicans for decades. Senior Ohioans such as myself remember an Ohio that was considered a progressive state, one governed by officeholders who worked for the common good of the Buckeye state. That Ohio no longer exists. In its place is a state government where God and the Bible come first, especially when it comes to hot-button social issues.

It is unlikely that this bill will pass constitutional muster. But, maybe the real issue here is to get HB565 before the U.S. Supreme Court so the court can overturn Roe v. Wade. Isn’t that the ultimate goal of all anti-abortion laws at the state level? Outlaw abortion in the states and then make a full-bore frontal assault on Roe v. Wade. If attempts to criminalize abortion at the federal level are successful, this means the United States returns to the days when abortions were performed in backrooms and alleys. Ultimately, it means more unwanted children will be brought into the world and more women will die of complications from illegal, unsafe abortion procedures. We must not forget that the people who believe that abortion is murder often think that using birth control is a sin too. Imagine, if you dare, a country where women no longer have access to birth control and they once again must live in fear of unwanted pregnancy. Is this really what we want for Ohio and our country? If the answer is “no,” then the only answer is to elected leaders who put their duties and obligations to their constituents ahead of their fealty to God.

I am not suggesting that religious people cannot hold office, but if they are unwilling to separate church from state, then they are not fit for office. Our governmental structures are, by design, secular, and politicians who ignore or refuse to understand this must be replaced by people who do. For far too long, voters have treated the religious beliefs of politicians as being beyond criticism and critique. Since we now know that religious beliefs have political and social consequences, those of us who consider the separation of church and state essential to the future of our secular state must expose and critique the religious beliefs of politicians. The same applies to atheistic, agnostic, and humanistic politicians – we must question their beliefs as well. What we believe matters, as HB565, HB214, and other anti-abortion bills show. If we want a country where secular, humanistic ideals drive the legislative process, then we must elect candidates who value these things. It really is that simple.

Previous Articles About Abortion
Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contradictions

25 Questions for Those who say Abortion is Murder

Why it is Impossible to Talk to Pro-Life Zealots About Abortion

Preaching the Anti-Abortion Gospel

What Anti-Abortion Zealots Really Want

Abortion: One Issue Voters

Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take)

Reducing the Number of Abortions

Is God Pro-Life?

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Is God Pro-Life?

3 day old human embyro

Three Day Old Human Embryo.

A hundred or so local anti-abortion residents held a protest at ProMedica health system’s Defiance, Ohio facility yesterday. These zygote lovers were protesting Promedica’s decision to enter into a transfer agreement with Toledo’s lone abortion facility — Capital Care. Anti-abortion zealots in the Ohio legislature have passed numerous anti-abortion laws and regulations in recent years. One recent bit of legislative wonder requires abortion clinics to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital. This requirement has put most of Ohio’s abortion clinics out of business, much to the delight of anti-abortion God worshipers.

Ohio is on the cusp of being the first state to totally ban abortion; either by enacting strict, impossible-to-meet regulations or directly assaulting Roe v. Wade with a ban on abortion. This is what happens when Republicans are given super majorities in state legislatures. The U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion almost forty-five years ago. Yet, here we are, re-litigating an issue decided decades ago. And abortion is not the only right under attack. Republicans control most state legislatures. Believing that Christianity is the one true religion and that the Bible is the moral framework by which all Americans should live, these politicians demand that secular governments bow to God’s theocratic will. Abortion is just one issue, among many. Take any of the church and state issues litigated from the Scope’s Monkey Trial forward. Many of these court cases are being challenged and, in some instances, overturned. Christian zealots will not rest until the Christian flag flies over the White House and every state capitol. They will not rest until the wall of separation between church and state is breached and secularism is banished from the realm. One need only to look to the Middle East and Europe to see what happens when theocrats gain the power of the state; people die and freedoms are lost. The only way to turn back this assault is to elect to office people who value the U.S. Constitution and its secular principles and values.

Signs at the ProMedica protest sported messages such as: Killing babies is not healthcare, Abortion is always the wrong choice, and God is pro-life. Most of the protesters were either Evangelical or Catholic — the two dominant sects in this area. While Catholics, at one time, voted for Democrats and pro-union candidates, recent decades have brought a virulent swing to the right. These days, Catholics are every bit as caustic as Evangelicals, especially on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and same-sex marriage.

I have no doubt that these protestors sincerely believe that God is pro-life, but such a belief is rooted in fanaticism, and not fact. Anti-abortionists selectively appeal to the Bible as justification for their anti-abortion rhetoric, but a careful reading of the Bible suggests that God is not, in any way, pro-life; and that people who claim God is on their side are ignoring vast amounts of Biblical and historical evidence to the contrary. If anything, God is blood-thirsty, violent megalomaniac who has caused untold pain, suffering, and death (if he is indeed real, as Christians insist he is).

According to the Bible, the pro-life God of the Bible drowned millions of people with a flood, including children and pregnant women. How can it be said that God is pro-life if he murdered fetuses by drowning them? Down through the pages of the Bible we find story after story detailing Jehovah’s genocidal rage against anyone and everyone who refused to bow in fealty and worship him. The New Testament is no better. One need only look at the death of Jesus to see the homicidal tendencies of the Christian deity. What kind of father does what God did to his son? Worse yet, this same God created a place called Hell; a place where he tortures all non-Christians for eternity. This God is such a psychopath that he fits the dead with new bodies that will tolerate torture in the fire and brimstone of the Lake of Fire. What a monstrous being!

And then there’s the fact that if God is the giver and taker of life, then he is responsible for the ten to twenty percent of pregnancies that end with spontaneous abortion (miscarriage). If God is pro-life, why then are these pregnancies not carried to term? Surely, God can keep spontaneous abortions from happening. Why does he sit on the sidelines and do nothing? The same argument could be made for children who die due to war, murder, malnutrition, disease, and parental neglect. If God is pro-life, shouldn’t he intervene and save children from death? If God truly cares about the pre-born, surely he still cares for them after they are born. Yet, all the evidence points to the fact that God is indifferent to the plight of his created beings. One could even argue that the evidence suggests that the pro-life God is a figment of Christian imaginations.

No, God is not pro-life, and neither are his followers. Most pro-lifers have a schizophrenic approach to life. The very same people protesting at ProMedica can be found defending U.S. militarism, capital punishment, and all sorts of anti-life government policies. At best, most pro-lifers are pro-fetus, hypocrites of the first-degree. Take protesters who released balloons to honor the babies have been aborted. They showed no regard for what balloon releases do to the environment and wildlife: that released balloons eventually return to the ground, causing wildlife deaths when they are ingested. This fact is a great example of the myopia of anti-abortionists. They are one-issue crusaders who only believe in protesting in support of the pre-born. Once a child is born, all bets are off.

An anti-abortionist who lives near me told the Defiance Crescent-News, “They [ProMedica] became complicit in murder when they signed that transfer agreement.” As long as Christian zealots continue to believe that life begins at conception, and any and all forms of abortion are murder, there’s no possible way to work with them to reduce the need for abortion. Instead, people such as myself are forced to fight their irrational, anti-woman assault on women. Believing that God is on their side and the Bible is God’s inspired, infallible word, Evangelicals and conservative Catholics cannot and will not compromise. Trying to reach such people is a waste of time. All any of us can do is strip them of the power of the state. This is accomplished through electing politicians who believe it’s important to protect a woman’s right to choose; who believe that women have a Constitutional right to control their own bodies. At this juncture in American history, this means running Republicans out of office. Remember, if we don’t realize the importance of the hour, we are going to wake up one day and find ourselves living in what Evangelicals have long desired — a Christian nation. Come that day, abortion rights will be the least of our problems.

Previous Articles About Abortion
Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contradictions

25 Questions for Those who say Abortion is Murder

Why it is Impossible to Talk to Pro-Life Zealots About Abortion

Preaching the Anti-Abortion Gospel

What Anti-Abortion Zealots Really Want

Abortion: One Issue Voters

Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take)

Reducing the Number of Abortions

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 60, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 39 years. He and his wife have six grown children and eleven grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

Thank you for reading this post. Please share your thoughts in the comment section. If you are a first-time commenter, please read the commenting policy before wowing readers with your words. All first-time comments are moderated. If you would like to contact Bruce directly, please use the contact form to do so.

Donations are always appreciated. Donations on a monthly basis can be made through Patreon. One-time donations can be made through PayPal.

Black Collar Crime: Evangelical Pastor Phillip “Flip” Benham Accused of Threatening Woman at a Clinic

flip-benham

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Flip Benham, a virulent anti-abortion preacher, was arrested for threatening a volunteer at a Charlotte, North Carolina woman’s clinic.

WSOC-9 reports:

Concord pastor Phillip “Flip” Benham was arrested for threatening a volunteer at a Charlotte woman’s clinic.

The pastor, who holds rallies with dozens of people throughout the week, especially at woman’s clinics that provide abortions, told Channel 9 the arrest was “bogus.”

A volunteer at A Preferred Woman’s Health Clinic on Latrobe Drive in Charlotte claims the pastor threatened her life during one of his rallies.

The clinic’s director told Channel 9 in a statement that they are scared by the group’s “pattern of violence.”

The volunteer said Benham approached her and “menacingly” and “repeatedly” told her, “You are dead,” and was fearing the threat would be carried out.

“There has never has been one convicted act of violence there at all. I’ve been there 17 years,” Benham said.

Benham claims he did not threaten the clinic volunteer, but rather said she was “dead in her sins.”

He said he was referring to the Christian principles that don’t align with abortion.

Benham told Channel 9’s Stephanie Tinoco that he has worked to stand up for unborn children and has been arrested dozens of time.

He said he will gladly sit in a cell for the cause. He said he lost count how many times he’s been arrested.

“We care about choice. We know that God has called all of us to make a choice. And only we have that choice. We want to help them,” Benham said.

….

Benham said he wants women to know if they’re willing, his crew is willing to help them get through an unwanted pregnancy and choose life.

….

What Anti-Abortion Zealots Really Want

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Recently, U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Russ Walker struck down an Alabama law that “enabled judges to put minors seeking abortions through a trial-like proceeding in which the fetus could get a lawyer and prosecutors could object to the pregnant girl’s wishes.” (CBS News)

According to CBS News:

Alabama legislators in 2014 changed the state’s process for girls who can’t or won’t get their parents’ permission for an abortion to obtain permission from a court instead. The new law empowered the judge to appoint a guardian ad litem “for the interests of the unborn child” and invited the local district attorney to call witnesses and question the girl to determine whether she’s mature enough to decide.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Russ Walker sided Friday with the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, writing that the law unconstitutionally and impermissibly imposes “an undue burden on a minor in Alabama who seeks an abortion through a judicial bypass,” and violates the girl’s privacy rights by enabling a prosecutor to call witnesses against her will.

Both the judge and the ACLU said they were aware of no other state with such a law.

Every state requiring parental consent for abortions involving minors must also have a “judicial bypass” procedure so that girls can get a judge’s approval in a way that is effective, confidential, and expeditious, the ACLU said.

The state had argued that the law was intended to allow a “meaningful” inquiry into the minor’s maturity and the process was still a “confidential, and expeditious option for a teenager who seeks an abortion without parental consent.”

The civil rights organization said it had the opposite effect, by enabling lawyers for the state or the fetus to subpoena the minor’s teacher, neighbor, relative or boyfriend to testify she’s too immature to choose an abortion, or that continuing the pregnancy would be in her best interest.

It is unclear how many such proceedings have happened since the law was enacted. Walker noted that a district attorney this summer opposed the abortion request of a 12-year-old girl who had been impregnated by a relative.

….

That Alabama legislators — most of whom worship the Evangelical Christian God — enacted such a draconian, anti-woman, anti-abortion law should surprise no one. Anti-abortionists will not rest until they have banned abortion, criminalized its practice, and granted personhood to human zygotes. In fact, most anti-abortionists object to abortion for any reason — including rape and incest. Some anti-abortionists even go so far as to oppose abortion even if the life of the mother is at stake, believing that God is the giver and taker of life, and if he wants the mother to live he will make it so.

Not only do anti-abortionists oppose abortion for any reason, an increasing number of them object to the sale and distribution of birth control, believing that God alone opens and closes the womb. These zealots, knowing that access to birth control reduces the need for abortion services, choose to let their peculiar interpretations of an ancient religious text trump what is best not only for women, but for the unwanted children they will bring into the world if they don’t have access to birth control.

Previously, I wrote that I no longer use the phrase pro-life to describe those who oppose abortion. The reason is simple. Anti-abortionists are only pro-life when it comes to the unborn. They will go to the ends of the earth to protect human zygotes and unborn fetuses, but once babies are born, anti-abortionists lose all interest in their welfare outside of throwing a few diapers and cans of formula the way of new mothers. Anti-abortionists are overwhelmingly Republican, supporting policies that harm countless people, including mothers and newborns. Anti-abortionists are overwhelmingly pro-war, pro-capital punishment, anti-euthanasia, anti-single payer/universal health care, and a host of other things that should, in my mind, be consistent with people hold a pro-life viewpoint. While I am sure that more than a few anti-abortionists are not as I describe here, the loudest voices in the movement support policies that are anti-family.

This is why it is impossible for those of us who support a woman’s right to an abortion to find common ground with anti-abortionists. Theologically driven, anti-abortionists will accept no compromise. Supporting abortion rights is, in the anti-abortionist’s mind, akin to supporting murder. I find it hard to work with people who think that, because of my views on abortion, I am a murderer. Even my support of morning-after drugs is viewed as advocating murder. In the eyes of anti-abortionists, the moment sperm and egg unite in the wombs of women, the results are human beings that should have the same constitutional and legal protections as I have. Insane! you say. Yes, but make no mistake about it, if anti-abortionists have their way, aborting a fetus will be considered premeditated murder, worthy, ironically, of the death penalty. Currently, anti-abortionists, as they continue their incremental assault on Roe v. Wade, are attempting to pass state laws that require burials for aborted or miscarried fetuses. According to the Guttmacher Institute, anti-abortionists continue to make it harder and harder for women to receive abortions. Currently:

  • Physician and Hospital Requirements: 38 states require an abortion to be performed by a licensed physician. 19 states require an abortion to be performed in a hospital after a specified point in the pregnancy, and 19 states require the involvement of a second physician after a specified point.
  • Gestational Limits: 43 states prohibit abortions, generally except when necessary to protect the woman’s life or health, after a specified point in pregnancy.
  • “Partial-Birth” Abortion: 19 states have laws in effect that prohibit “partial-birth” abortion. 3 of these laws apply only to post-viability abortions.
  • Public Funding: 17 states use their own funds to pay for all or most medically necessary abortions for Medicaid enrollees in the state. 32 states and the District of Columbia prohibit the use of state funds except in those cases when federal funds are available: where the woman’s life is in danger or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. In defiance of federal requirements, South Dakota limits funding to cases of life endangerment only.
  • Coverage by Private Insurance: 11 states restrict coverage of abortion in private insurance plans, most often limiting coverage only to when the woman’s life would be endangered if the pregnancy were carried to term. Most states allow the purchase of additional abortion coverage at an additional cost.
  • Refusal: 45 states allow individual health care providers to refuse to participate in an abortion. 42 states allow institutions to refuse to perform abortions, 16 of which limit refusal to private or religious institutions.
  • State-Mandated Counseling: 16 states mandate that women be given counseling before an abortion that includes information on at least one of the following: the purported link between abortion and breast cancer (5 states), the ability of a fetus to feel pain (12 states) or long-term mental health consequences for the woman (6 states).
  • Waiting Periods: 27 states require a woman seeking an abortion to wait a specified period of time, usually 24 hours, between when she receives counseling and the procedure is performed. 14 of these states have laws that effectively require the woman make two separate trips to the clinic to obtain the procedure.
  • Parental Involvement: 37 states require some type of parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion. 26 states require one or both parents to consent to the procedure, while 11 require that one or both parents be notified.

Here in Ohio, most abortions are banned after twenty weeks. As of April 2017, Ohio law requires:

  • A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion, and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided. Counseling must be provided in person and must take place before the waiting period begins, thereby necessitating two trips to the facility.
  • Health plans offered in the state’s health exchange under the Affordable Care Act can only cover abortion if the woman’s life is endangered, or in cases of rape or incest.
  • Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
  • Medication abortion must be provided using the FDA protocol. The use of telemedicine to administer medication abortion is prohibited.
  • The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
  • Most women will undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion; since the provider must test for a fetal heartbeat. The woman will be offered the option to view the image.
  • An abortion may be performed at 20 or more weeks post-fertilization (22 weeks after the woman’s last menstrual period) only if the woman’s life is endangered or if her physical health is severely compromised. This law is based on the assertion, which is inconsistent with scientific evidence and has been rejected by the medical community, that a fetus can feel pain at that point in pregnancy.

Since 2011, Ohio governor John Kasich has signed into law more than a dozen anti-abortion laws, resulting in the closure of half of Ohio’s abortion clinics. Showing that they will not be satisfied until ALL abortion is outlawed, Ohio anti-abortionists are attempting to pass a fetal heartbeat bill which, if enacted, will effectively ban all abortions in Ohio. Late last year, Governor Kasich vetoed the latest heartbeat law, saying that it would not survive constitutional challenge. His veto brought the ire of anti-abortionists. Never mind that Kasich has done more to advance the anti-abortion cause that any governor, all that matters to anti-abortion zealots such as Janet Porter is that the governor refused to support their latest bill. This reveals, yet again, that it is impossible for pro-choice advocates to find common ground with anti-abortionists. Adopting a scorched earth policy where no quarter will be given, anti-abortionists despise anyone who dares to deviate from their extremist views. If Governor Kasich is now in league with Satan, those of us who support a woman’s right to choose have no hope of finding ways to meaningfully work with anti-abortionists to reduce the number of abortions. So, we go it alone, advocating for easy, free access to birth control and comprehensive sex education in the public schools. Realizing that there will always be unwanted/accidental pregnancies — for whatever reason — we believe that access to morning-after drugs is essential.

Dark is the hour for those of us who support a woman’s right to choose, but we must not give in or lose hope. We must continue to fight, pushing back at every turn, until the gains made by anti-abortionists are overturned — either through legislatures or the judicial system.

Other posts on abortion

Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contradictions

25 Questions for Those who say Abortion is Murder

Abortion: One Issue Voters

Preaching the Anti-Abortion Gospel

Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take)

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Who Are the REAL Americans? by Bryan Fischer

bryan fischer

Considerable amounts of ink and pixels have been spilled in recent months over the question of who is an American, who is unAmerican, and who is anti-American. There is an easy way to tell: Use the Declaration of Independence as your guide.

The Declaration is the most quintessentially American document ever produced. It defines in unmistakable and unambiguous terms what America stands for. Simply put, someone who affirms the truth claims of the Declaration is a true American. Someone who is indifferent to its truth claims is un-American. And someone who is hostile to its truth claims is anti-American.

….

What, then, does it mean to be an “American?” 

First, Americans believe in absolute truth. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, … ” said the founders. There is such a thing as truth, an American would say, and we believe in it, and we defend it. An American believes, as did the founders, that certain things are true and other things are false. There is none of this business of everybody having his own truth. In fact, the founders observed that there are certain truths that are so obviously true on the very face of things that they do not even require proof; they are “self-evident.”

Thus someone who is indifferent to the question of truth is unAmerican because he does not care about this fundamental American ideal. And someone who is hostile to the idea of truth, or who is hostile to the self-evident truths the founders affirmed, is anti-American because he has pitted himself against a bedrock American principle.

Second, Americans believe man is a created being, not an evolved one. The very first self-evident truth the founders embraced is that “all men are created equal,” and that there is a “Creator” with a capital “C” who has granted them certain fundamental, non-negotiable rights. In other words, an American does not believe that man emerged from the primordial glop with some kind of ancestral connection to baboons and chimpanzees. No, an American believes, as the founders did, that man has been created in the image of God and is distinct and far above members of the animal kingdom in worth, value, and dignity. Man is not just a “trousered ape” but is an entirely different order of being altogether—a being who has not just a soul but also a spirit.

….

So an American believes man is a created being. Someone who is indifferent to the question of whether man is created or evolved is unAmerican. And someone who actively opposes the concept of a Creator and the concept of man as created in God’s image is anti-American.

Third, an American believes our rights come to us from God, not from government. An American believes that such rights are “unalienable,” which means that no earthly power has the moral authority to deprive us of any single one of these rights because they are a gift to us from God.

….

So an American believes that our rights come to us from a Creator God. An unAmerican is indifferent to the question. And an anti-American vigorously contests that idea and believes that rights are a gift to us from a beneficent government rather than the Creator.

Fourth, an American believes that babies have a right to be born. An American believes that no earthly power—not Congress, not the Supreme Court, not Planned Parenthood, nor a hospital in England—has any moral or legal right whatsoever to deprive a baby in the womb or a disabled newborn of its right to live. An anti-American is someone who supports the killing of babies in the womb and tries to lock up the Americans who expose this evil. Thus they seek to deprive babies of their right to life and undercover investigators of their right to liberty.

Fifth, an American believes that bakers, florists and photographers have a God-given right to liberty, a God-given right to manage their business affairs according to the dictates of their own conscience. An American believes that he should not be required by government to do work against his will, which is slavery, or to do work that violates his own conscience, which is tyranny. An American in name only believes that such artisans should be punished, fined, put out of business or sued for everything they own. And someone who is indifferent to this issue is not a bad person; he is just an unAmerican one.

Sixth, an American believes that the right to private property is a sacred right, a gift from God, and that government is not allowed to deprive homeowners of their property or deny farmers and ranchers the use of their property (apart, of course, from the proper use of eminent domain or as a consequence of the commission of a crime). The founders would be appalled at the way in which the abuse of eminent domain and the use of environmental regulations have shredded this unalienable right. An American believes the right to private property is a gift from God. An anti-American despises this right and treats it as something that government can readily dispose of if it will serve the progressive agenda.

— Bryan Fischer, American Family Association, The Declaration Exposes Americans in Name Only, July 10, 2017

Carol’s Story: Seeking Life Along The Way — Part Three

the way international

Guest post by Carol. For many years, Carol was a member of The Way.  You can read Carol’s blog here.

1970s Word Over the World

In January, 1978, at the age of eighteen, shortly after dropping out of college, I got 100% involved with The Way. Back in my hometown, I moved into a “Way Home” with two other Way believers to help run Way Classes and “move the Word.” That’s what you did in a “Way Home.” I witnessed to everything that moved, sometimes going door-to-door alone. I landed a job in the laundry department of a local hospital. One of my fellow employees was my first Way recruit.

In February, 1978, I met the president and founder of The Way at a large Way gathering called a Heartbeat Festival at the Omni Hotel in Virginia Beach. I waited, alone, outside a conference room where Dr. Wierwille was meeting with the Word Over the World Ambassadors (WOWs) from the region. About midnight, he walked out of the room. I got up, walked over to him, introduced myself, and said, “I want to go WOW this year!” (WOW was The Way’s main lay outreach program, volunteers serving for one year wherever assigned by The Way.)

The next morning, I sat on the front row in the large meeting of hundreds, if not a couple of thousand, people. At the end of his teaching from the stage, Doctor pointed at me and said, “You’re going WOW. next year; aren’t you honey?” I nodded my head yes, and he said, “Have you signed up yet?” I shook my head no, and he bellowed, “Well come on up here!” He motioned his arm for me to join him on the elevated stage, which I did, and he personally signed me up to go WOW.

As I stood with him on the stage in front of the sea of onlookers, he again enthusiastically bellowed, this time to the whole audience, “Who else wants to go WOW!?!” As people came up to the stage I helped hand out the blue WOW sign-up cards.

Little eighteen-year-old me, on stage with the “man of God of the world,” our “father in the Word,” “Doctor,” as many loyal followers affectionately referred to him. I felt large and small at the same time. Privileged. Awed. Humbled. Knowing that I was doing God’s will for my life. Or so I thought.

It was almost intoxicating, but not in scary or uncontrollable way. I was high on the “love of God.” I thought there was nowhere else on earth where one could experience this unique oneness, unity of purpose, synchronicity, and more. I later came to call it “the chewy, caramel center of God’s heart.” It was almost tangible and was a feeling that would be duplicated at Way functions multiple times in the following decades.

Latter May through July, 1978

Before going WOW in August, I jumped on board with The Way’s statewide summer outreach program, WONC – Word Over North Carolina. I was assigned with three other young ladies to Fayetteville, North Carolina, where Fort Bragg is located. I got a job driving a taxi cab. We witnessed to lots of soldiers and ran one Power For Abundant Living Foundational Class.

Sometime between February and May, I had made the commitment to enter The Way’s leadership program, The Way Corps. WOW was a one-year commitment; Way Corps was a lifetime commitment. My upcoming WOW year would serve as my first year of Corps training known as the apprenticeship year. (Ministry years ran from August to August.)

August, 1978

I was commissioned, with hundreds of others, as a WOW Ambassador at the Way’s yearly festival, the Rock of Ages, held at Headquarters in New Knoxville, Ohio. (The Rock of Ages was discontinued in 1995 after twenty-five years.)

I was sent to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and was designated a WOW Family Coordinator. There were four WOWs in my family, all of us barely adults – myself, another young woman, and two young men. Along with overseeing the WOW family, I oversaw our Twig Fellowship. Our WOW family was assigned with six other WOW families to Milwaukee and made up a WOW Branch, which was overseen by an 8th Way Corps trainee on his interim year assignment.

The Way was structured like a tree known as The Way Tree. The roots of the tree represented the research of God’s Word stemming from Dr. Wierwille and the research department at Headquarters. Research is what “fed the tree.” Later The Way purchased other training locations which were collectively called “root locales.” The Trunk represented a geographical country, such as the Trunk of the USA or the Trunk of Canada. Limbs were states, such as the Limb of New York. Branches were areas within a state and were typically composed of about seven Twigs. Twigs were the household fellowships held in Way believers’ homes. An individual believer was sometimes referred to as a Leaf. The Twig is where believers spent most of their time as far as Way meetings were concerned. A common phrase at that time was, “Life is in the Twig.” In the mid-1990’s, the term “Twig” was replaced with “Household Fellowship.” (Click here to listen to the song, Am A Leaf  by one of the popular Way bands of the 1970’s.)

My WOW family lived in a small, run-down apartment on the East Side near Lake Michigan and the University of Wisconsin. We spent a lot of time witnessing on campus. Through the year, I worked part-time jobs as an office assistant, a bus girl at a restaurant, and an ice cream cart driver selling frozen treats on the East Side.

One of my WOW brothers was my boyfriend. We had met at the end of Summer Outreach in North Carolina and had sat together through the teachings and the WOW commission at the Rock, never imagining that we would be assigned to the same WOW family. We were both stunned when we opened our assignment envelopes. He was kind of pissed because, since he was the man, he thought he should be the Family Coordinator. I was concerned because we both had raging teenage hormones. He was 18. I was 19.

Shortly after opening our assignment envelopes, our WOW Branch gathered so we could all meet each other. At that time, I privately told our Branch Leader that my WOW brother and I couldn’t be together; we were in love. There was no way we could concentrate on our commitment to God if we lived together in the same house. Our Branch Leader took my request up the Way Tree to higher leadership. The verdict came back – we were to stay together. The assignments were inspired by God.

I got pregnant within a couple months and got an abortion. I traveled to Madison, Wisconsin, where our Limb Leaders lived, to get the abortion. My mom paid for it. I stayed in the Limb Home for a few days after the procedure. The Limb Leaders were kind, but to my recollection, we didn’t discuss the abortion. I recall feeling very alone, crying alone, and bleeding a lot. Other than my boyfriend and my Branch Leader back in Milwaukee, no one else in the Branch knew, at least that I was aware of. I returned to my WOW family like nothing had happened and went back to “moving the Word.” At that time in The Way, abortion was pretty much treated like getting a splinter removed.

Within two months after the abortion, my WOW brother was moved to a different WOW family in the Branch. But we continued as lovers, growing more fond of one other as the year went on. (Click here to read a two-part series about the WOW commission and abortion.)

In September, 1979, after the end of my 1978-’79 WOW year, I entered in-residence training with the 10th Way Corps at The Way College of Emporia in Kansas.

The WOW Ambassador and other outreach programs with The Way were on a volunteer basis with participants supporting themselves financially while doing the work of the Ministry; there was no monetary compensation from The Way. Volunteers were expected to continue to tithe from income received through their part-time secular jobs during their full-time volunteer service with The Way. As WOWs, we were to work our secular jobs twenty to thirty hours per week and do the work of the Ministry forty hours per week. (Click here to view pages from the WOW Handbook.)

When I was in Corps training, the program consisted of a first-year apprenticeship, when a trainee served closely with Way Corps, a second year in-residence at Way root locales, a third year as an interim or practicum when the trainee served wherever assigned by The Way, and a fourth year back in-residence at Way root locales. The in-residence years were work/study programs and were financed via funds solicited by the Way Corps trainee. Those who funded the trainee were called “Spiritual Partners” and agreed to a monthly or other non-tax-deductible financial donation. The Way Corps trainee was to pray for and to write to each Spiritual Partner once a month during that in-residence year.

The Way Corps training program was not an outreach program, per se, though outreach and teaching were some of the final goals as part of the “lifetime commitment to Christian service.” A Way Corps trainee could be assigned to an outreach program during the apprentice or interim years or after graduation.

The in-residence years included an outreach exercise called Lightbearers. Trainees would live in the field with Way believers for two weeks and help recruit enough people for the area to be able to run The Way’s Foundational Class.

As an outreach exercise, Corps trainees would sometimes have “witnessing” days in their local root locale communities.

The Corps program also included hitchhiking requirements where trainees were to witness to those who gave them rides and were to “believe God” to arrive at assigned destinations within given time frames. I hitchhiked over four thousand miles while in The Way Corps. On one of my hitchhiking assignments, from Kansas to New Mexico, my partner and I did not arrive at our destination in the allotted time frame. We had missed it by four minutes. We had to turn right around and hitchhike back to Kansas from New Mexico. (Click here to read a transcript from my 13th Way Corps personal journal detailing that excursion.)

Through my Corps years I spent time at three of The Way’s root locales in Kansas, Indiana, and Ohio. I spent a couple of weeks in New Mexico at The Way’s L.E.A.D. Outdoor Academy. L.E.A.D. stood for Leadership, Education, Adventure, Direction and was The Way’s wilderness, rock climbing program, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I did not spend any Corps time at The Way’s root locale in Gunnison, Colorado. (The Way sold its Kansas and Indiana properties in the 1990’s after losing followers en masse. At some point, The Way also sold the L.E.A.D. property in New Mexico. The Way kept its Headquarters in Ohio and The Way Family Ranch in Colorado.)

Though I spent over four years in Way Corps training I never graduated. I left the program, not once, but twice, midstream in the training, both times during my interim years. To break one’s Corps commitment was akin to a Judas’ betrayal.

Yet, for the most part, I loved my in-residence years at the “school of the prophets” and was successful through that part of the training. In-residence, our lives were scheduled for us. We seldom had “free time.” I believed that I was in the center of God’s will and heart. I felt I was in a cocoon where I was learning how to do things right so as to be better able to serve God’s people. I believe that is why most followers went into The Way Corps — to serve.

The proving years (interim/practicum) were my death of confidence. The pressure of overseeing people’s spiritual lives, of receiving revelation from God, and of bearing good spiritual fruit overwhelmed me. Externally I appeared capable and confident. But, internally, I felt an incredible urge to flee. I sought escape from an internal dissonance which was brought on by trying to run in shoes not designed to carry me, but that I believed were my duty to make fit. Or perhaps, I was trying to run from manipulation that I didn’t recognize as such.

Not only did I break my Corps commitment, I did so in an AWOL fashion which only added to the shame of my broken integrity.

I think one reason I chose an AWOL approach was because I felt that if I counseled with leadership and then disobeyed, in my confused perception, that was a more direct act of disobedience than if I just disappeared. Plus, I felt any counsel would try to talk me into staying.

For decades after breaking my Corps commitment, a dark shadow of shame followed me. I would try to understand the whys of my betrayal.  Immaturity? Insecurity? Low self-image? Lack of confidence? Unrelenting standards? Fear of failure or perhaps success? Devil spirits? Character flaws?

It took me until 2016, eleven years after leaving The Way, to realize that by fleeing the Corps I didn’t break my integrity. I was actually endeavoring to keep my integrity by trying to be true to my core, to my self. But I didn’t know how. Still, I wish I hadn’t left in an AWOL fashion.

To me, the Corps was a huge commitment.

And I had broken that commitment twice.

The ensuing shadow-of-shame haunted me for decades.

Yet, all that while as I was treading the waters of life trying to keep my head above my shame, unknown to me and other followers, top Way leaders were abusing their authority, engaging in covert and rampant illicit sex with followers.

Carol’s Story: About The Way — Part One

the way international

Guest post by Carol. For many years. Carol was a member of The Way. Today’s post is an informational article about The Way for people who may not be familiar with this religious sect. You can read Carol’s blog here.

About The Way International

The Way International is a small, fundamentalist, Bible-based organization headquartered in New Knoxville, Ohio, on property that was once the family farm of the founder, Victor Paul Wierwille. The Way is considered a cult by many former members, by most mainstream churches, and by certain secular groups. It has most always operated as home-based churches.

The Way recognizes 1942 as its commencement date and has (almost) always operated as home-based churches. Wierwille claimed that, in 1942, God audibly spoke to him, telling him that He would teach Wierwille the Word as it had not been known since the first century, if Wierwille would teach it to others.

Like some other new religions, The Way had great growth beginning in the late 1960s, through the 1970s, and into the early 1980s. In the early ’80s, as many as 20,000 people attended the then-yearly Rock of Ages festival held on the Way’s property in New Knoxville. (The Rock of Ages was discontinued in 1995, after 25 years.)

Beginning in the latter 1980s, within a few years of Wierwille’s death, The Way began to unravel due (in part) to power struggles and to the exposure of rampant sexual abuses that had started with Wierwille. The Way has survived but is a skeleton of what it once was.

The Way teaches non-conventional biblical doctrines, and in that aspect, differs from conventional Christian Fundamentalism. It is fundamentalist in that followers of The Way believe that the Bible, as it was “originally” given, is perfect and inerrant and is God’s revealed Word and Will in written form to humanity. Way doctrine teaches that there is only one proper interpretation of the scriptures.

Way followers do not believe that Jesus is God. One of Wierwille’s books is entitled Jesus Christ is Not God. However, neither do followers believe that Jesus was just another man. Rather, he is the only begotten son of God and the redeemer of mankind. Without Jesus Christ shedding his “perfect blood,” mankind would continue in an irredeemable state. The Way teaches a virgin conception but not a virgin birth. God created sperm in Mary’s Fallopian tube which fertilized one of Mary’s eggs, thus producing a human with “perfect blood.” God, who is spirit, is Jesus’s biological father, and Mary, a human, was his biological mother.

The Way teaches that a human baby is not fully human until it takes its first breath and that abortion is not murder. Upon birth, a human is only body and soul (soul being breath life and encompassing genetics). A person does not receive the spirit of God until he or she decides to become born again (also known as being saved, made whole, redeemed, or the new birth). However, children are counted as saved as long as one parent is saved. This continues until the child reaches an age of accountability, when the child is able to independently make a decision to be saved or not.

Way followers believe that a person gets born again by believing Romans 10: 9 and 10. That is, people must confess with their mouths (out loud is not necessary) that Jesus is Lord (not as God, but as Master) and believe in their hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead. To accept Jesus into one’s heart or to believe that Jesus is God does not result in a person being born again; those are counterfeit formulas. Once people are born again, they cannot, for any reason, lose their salvation. The only people who cannot be saved are those born of the seed of the serpent, the devil. The Way does not subscribe to any sort of water baptism; it is not necessary and became obsolete once Jesus was raised from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God, making the new birth available.

Way believers are taught that homosexuality happens because of devil spirit possession. But people who are gay can still be saved, even if they continue being gay, though they wouldn’t be able to attend Way fellowships if they are unwilling to change their behavior.

In the 1990s The Way began teaching that the original sin in Genesis happened when the devil appeared in the form of a beautiful woman and enticed Eve into a homosexual experience. Adam watched, or at least consented, though he didn’t directly partake in the act. By consenting he ate of the figurative fruit from the figurative tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden, and thus all humanity fell from grace and needed a redeemer. Prior to that doctrine, The Way taught that the original sin probably involved masturbation; Adam and Eve met their own sexual needs instead of each other’s. But masturbation is not considered a sin in and of itself.

Followers of The Way believe that when people die, they do not immediately go to an after-life in any form. The only human currently alive after death is Jesus Christ. All other humans remain dead and will be raised in the future either at Christ’s first “return” (which most Christians refer to as the “rapture” — The Way doesn’t use the word “rapture” but rather the phrase “the Hope”) or at the final judgments. Animals are not resurrected.

Way followers do not believe in an eternal hell-fire torment. After the final judgments, all non-believers will die the second death and cease to exist forever. The lake of fire and the devil and death will be obliterated. A new heaven and earth where all sorrow and death has ceased will then last for eternity, bringing into fruition God’s original intent in Genesis before the “fall of mankind.”

Though The Way is not part of the Charismatic movement, everyone in The Way speaks in tongues, but not spontaneously out loud during gatherings. In public Way meetings the believer is called upon by whomever is overseeing and is directed to either “prophesy” or “speak in tongues and interpret.” Speaking in tongues is mainly for the believer’s private prayer life “to build themselves up spiritually” and have a better connection with “God, the Father.” Way doctrine teaches that the nine “gifts of the spirit” referred to in I Corinthians 12 of the Bible are actually “manifestations” and that every equipped believer operates all nine of the manifestations. “All nine all the time” was a common phrase in The Way.

Way believers are not literalists. The Bible abounds with figures of speech and ancient Middle Eastern customs. A person needs some knowledge of these in order to understand the context of the Bible.

The Way is not a King James Bible-only organization. King James is the main version used in The Way because that version is what most biblical lexicons and concordances are keyed to and because the italicized words in the King James indicate that those words were added to the text. The Way references various versions in its study of the scriptures.

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Thoughts About Life and Death: God Kills Aspiring Model by Hitting Her With a Train

fredzania thompson

Last week, aspiring model and college student Fredzania Thompson was tragically killed when a train hit her while she was standing too close to the tracks. CBS News reports:

The mother of a 19-year-old Texas woman says her daughter was killed when she was struck by a train while having photos taken of her on the tracks in a bid to launch a modeling career.

Hakamie Stevenson told The Eagle newspaper that her daughter, Fredzania Thompson, attended Blinn College in Bryan, Texas, but wanted to put her education on hold to begin modeling.

Authorities say Thompson was standing between two sets of tracks on March 10 in Navasota when a BNSF Railway train approached.

She moved out of the way of the train but was apparently unaware that a Union Pacific train was coming in the opposite direction on the other tracks and was struck.

In this post, my objective is not to focus on the nature of Thompson’s death as much as the reason given for her demise. Sambreia Glover had this to say about her 20-year-old cousin’s death:

Everyone knew the real Zanie … very free-spirited, just goofy. Everyone loved her. She never met a stranger. She was just very friendly and sweet. it’s tough, but God makes no mistakes. It was just her time, but she will be truly missed.

According to Thompson’s cousin — who is likely an Evangelical Christian — God — who supposedly makes no mistakes — killed Thompson because it was just her time to die. She’ll be missed, Glover said, but hey the Giver and Taker of Life knows what he is doing.

What reason could the Christian God possibly have for killing a bright, energetic 20-year-old girl? Does God assign death dates to every human life at birth? If so, and if, as pro-lifers say, life begins at fertilization, that means God assigns a death date to every aborted fetus. This also means that children who died of cancer did so because it was their time to die. According to many Evangelical pastors, everyone has a divine appointment with death. The Bible seems to be on their side. Hebrews 9:27 says:

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment

This verse can be interpreted several ways. One way is to say that the appointment in question is the death of all humans, not anyone in particular. After everyone is dead and the events of the book of Revelation are fulfilled, everyone will be resurrected so they can stand before God and be judged. Another way this passage is interpreted — the one most commonly used by Evangelical preachers — is that everyone has a set-in-stone death-day. In Thompson’s case, March 10, 2017, was her day to die.

Let’s assume, for a moment, that the notion of everyone having a set-by-God death-date is true. What does this say about God? Think of all the various ways humans die. Think of all the suffering, pain, and agony people go through before drawing their last breaths. Think of all the bizarre ways people die — wrong place, wrong time, BAM! you’re dead! What kind of monster is God with his macabre, psychopathic, torturing-kittens ways of strangling the life out of those whose creation was supposedly his crowning achievement? If death is a divinely ordered necessity, why not let people on their death-day die in their sleep? Surely that would be good not only for the dead people, but also their families. Instead, God — the First Cause of everything, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last — throws people off cliffs, murders them in dark alleys, blows them up in crowded bazaars, drowns them in swimming pools, fries them with lightning, and, as in Thompson’s case, hits them with trains.

Some Evangelicals will argue that God, as creator, can do whatever he wants to do. The Apostle Paul makes this very argument in Romans 9God is the creator, Paul said, and we are the created. How dare we challenge God’s right to do whatever he wants.

Another argument made for God’s chosen methods of human-killing is that the more graphic, violent, and awful the death, the more likely it is that people will pay attention to it. Who wants to watch the Hallmark Channel when you can watch HBO, right? Since heaven or hell awaits everyone and this is determined by whether people are Christian or not, news-worthy deaths are warning signs from God. On Sundays, countless Evangelical pastors use this very approach in their sermons, giving graphic illustrations of people who died horrible, untimely (from a human perspective) deaths. The goal is to scare people into getting saved. I used countless such illustrations, hoping that congregants who consider their frail mortality, soon death, and eternal destiny. Such illustrations in the hands of skilled emotion manipulators usually lead people — with tears streaming down their faces — to put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

Thompson’s cousin also said that “God makes no mistakes.” I wonder if Christians, in light of the Bible, consider whether statements such as this are true. According to the Good Book, God created Adam and Eve. How did that work out? If God is the First Cause, isn’t he responsible for the fall of Adam and Eve into sin? If God knows E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G, he must have known Adam and Eve were going to eat of Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and, according to orthodox Christianity, plunge the entire human race into sin. Think of all the evil, violence, and suffering on display in this world of ours. Evangelicals trace all of these things back to our sinful nature. Surely, it is fair to say that God screwed up big time when creating Adam and Eve as he did. In other words, God made a colossal mistake.

Several thousand years later, humans had procreated themselves into a six-million or so species. Also roaming the earth were fallen angels. These angels were having sex with human women, resulting in the birth of angel-human hybrid children. Bizarre TV show from the SyFy channel? Nope, straight from the Bible, Genesis, chapter six:

And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

Note carefully what the Bible says: And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart…. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth. This sure sounds like it is saying that God is admitting that he made a mistake in creating humans, and that the only way to fix his mistake was to kill everyone (save Noah and his family, eight in number) and start over.

The most humorous part of this story is that after God flushed the earth and started over, the first thing that Noah and his sons did was commit some sort of sexual sin (Genesis 9:19-24). Poor God, he can’t seem to get it right. He should have killed Noah’s family too.

Evangelicals are fond of saying, PRAYER CHANGES THINGS! Implied in this statement is that through prayer God can be moved to act on their behalf. Need something from God? PRAY! Need a job, home, money, car, a wife? PRAY! Need deliverance from alcohol, heroin, or porn? PRAY! Pray long and hard enough, the thinking goes, and God will come through for you, giving you that which you ask for. God, then, is some sort of divine vending machine. Keep putting quarters in the slot and pulling the handle, and God will sooner or later drop a package of Peanut M&Ms from Heaven.

If prayer can indeed change things, wouldn’t this mean that God changing his mind about a matter is him admitting that his first plan of action/inaction was wrong? If God is perfect, the same yesterday, today, and forever, doesn’t the very act of answering prayers say that God is NOT any these things?

If God is all that Evangelicals say he is, shouldn’t we expect God to get it right each and every time? What does it say about a supposedly all-knowing, all-powerful God that he is neither? What it should say to anyone who is paying attention is that this God is a figment of human imagination. People desperately want to believe that there is some sort of higher power controlling the universe. They also want to believe that their life matters to God and has meaning and purpose. Life isn’t worth living, Christians say, if these things are not true.

Of course, the mere existence of atheists, agnostics, pagans, humanists, and countless other non-Christians, suggests otherwise. Earthly, godless life can be and is filled with wonder, meaning, and purpose. Evangelicals may not be able to wrap their minds around this fact, but that doesn’t mean it is not true. Millions and millions of people live in the present, acknowledging that death lurks around the next corner. Today, tomorrow, or 50 years from now, death — the great equalizer — will claim us all. The difference, of course, is that unbelievers know that to some degree they can control when and even how they die. Yes, genetics, environment, and luck play a big part, but we are NOT passive players in the drama called life.

Every day, all of us make decisions based on the evidence at hand and probabilities. Living on Earth is both wonderful and dangerous. Having lived for almost 60 years, I can say that I am lucky to be alive. Forty-five years ago, 15-year-old Bruce was walking home from the YMCA one evening with his friends when a stopped train blocked his path home. After 10 or so minutes, the daredevil boy with flaming orange hair decided he had enough and started to climb underneath the train. My friends laughed and cheered me on, but none of them was willing to following me across the tracks to the other side. Perhaps their reason for not doing so was the train lurching forward as I made it halfway to the other side. My friends’ laughs and cheers turned into screams, fearing that the train was going to crush me or cut off my legs. Fortunately, I safely made it to the other side. (And astoundingly, I waited until the tracks were clear so my friends could praise me for my bravado, forgetting that my reason for doing this was to save time.)

The story of Fredzania Thompson’s tragic death and my story of keeping my legs for another day have much in common. Both of us foolishly thought that it was okay to play on train tracks. Both of us, filled with youthful life, had no thoughts of death. Thompson just wanted a picture, and I just wanted to get home. Thompson’s roll of the dice resulted in her death, mine became a story to tell forty-five years later. The difference between the two stories? Luck. I could just as easily have been killed or turned into a legless example of youthful stupidly.

At the time, I thanked God for saving me from the train, but now I know that I was one lucky boy. Had my life ended that night, none of what I have experienced since them would have happened. Surviving many such experiences has taught me the importance of carefully considering possible outcomes. Not that I still don’t make stupid decisions. I do, and perhaps one day I will die, the result of one stupid decision too many. (Please see Death by Duck: The Photograph that Almost Killed Me.)

I certainly empathize with Thompson’s family. Her death came way too soon, long before it should have. She should have had a full life ahead of her, including a modeling career and perhaps a husband and family. So much potential, snuffed out in an instant because of a thoughtless choice to have her photograph taken on busy railroad tracks. God is not to blame (or credit), because he doesn’t exist. The blame squarely rests on Thompson, and to some degree, the photographer — who should have assessed the risk involved in taking the photograph. All of us know that train tracks are dangerous, yet every year hundreds of Americans are killed by trains. We KNOW, yet we allow the thrill of the moment or lateness to override our thinking, resulting in death and serious injury. One thing is for certain, future Thompsons will be warned about the danger that railroad tracks present to them. This is how we survive as a species. Not by attributing everything to God, but by learning from our ignorant, foolish, ill-advised decisions. Much of life and death rests with us. If we want to live long, fulfilling lives, we must learn to assess danger, weigh probabilities, and act accordingly. We still might end up dead, but it won’t be because we threw caution to the wind and put ourselves in harm’s way.

The Insanity of the ‘Life Begins at Fertilization’ Movement

aaron wilsonThe goal of the pro-life movement is to make ALL abortion illegal. They will not stop their war against women until fertilized eggs receive the same constitutional protections afforded post-birth humans. Using the incremental approach, pro-lifers have successfully made it impossible for women in many states to get an abortion. Some zealots even go so far as to say that birth control should be outlawed. I have no doubt that once the U.S. Supreme Court is at full strength that zygote warriors will attempt to re-litigate Roe v. Wade.

I have written several articles on abortion you might find helpful:

Abortion Facts, Lies, and Contradictions

25 Questions for Those who say Abortion is Murder

Why it is Impossible to Talk to Pro-Life Zealots About Abortion

Frozen Embryos: If Life Begins at Conception

Tristan Vick also wrote an article for this site on abortion titled, Is Abortion Murder? (A Rationalist’s Take).

Yesterday, The Gospel Coalition — a Fundamentalist,Calvinistic, parachurch group — published an article by Aaron Wilson titled, What Christians Should Know About Embryo Adoption. That’s right, EMBRYO ADOPTION.  Tens of thousands of children need adoptive families, yet people such as Aaron Wilson are focused on rescuing frozen embryos — who are, in their minds, human beings with constitutional rights — from being criminally murdered. Here’s some of what Wilson had to say:

A hallmark of the evangelical church in America is the backing of a pro-life worldview. As such, abortion clinics and the politics that govern them are primary areas of focus in this important cause. However, there’s another front that often gets overlooked in the fight for life: the state of the thousands of children who remain cryogenically frozen as human embryos following in-vitro fertilization cycles.

A growing Christian response to this issue is the life-affirming answer of embryo adoption.

If you haven’t heard of embryo adoption, you’re not alone. Even though thousands of children in the United States could immediately benefit from this act of love, many people—Christians included—remain unaware of this adoptive need.

Because embryo adoption can be confusing, here are six answers to common questions.

1. What is embryo adoption?

Embryo adoption is a way to care for children who, for lack of a better phrase, are “left over” and kept in a cryogenic state following an in-vitro fertilization cycle. Through embryo adoption, an adopting mother gives these children a chance at birth by allowing their embryonic form to be thawed and transferred to her uterus. If one or more implant, the mother then carries and births the child (or children) though she is not genetically related to them. Embryo adoption is often referred to as pre-birth adoption.

2. Isn’t embryo adoption the same thing as in-vitro fertilizatio (IVF)?

No. In many ways, it’s the opposite. In-vitro fertilization creates life as a form of reproductive technology. Embryo adoption is a response to the fact that life has already been created and that it needs a womb to continue developing the way God intended babies to grow.

3. How many embryonic babies exist in cryopreservation?

In the United States alone, a projected 700,000 children exist as frozen embryos. Of these, an estimated 10,000 to 11,000 are available to be adopted. That number grows every week. These statistics reflect two pressing needs: A movement of families who are willing to adopt and an awareness of the life-affirming options available to parents who already have remaining embryos.

4. Is embryo adoption really adoption?

Because the U.S. government doesn’t agree with the Bible’s claim that life begins at fertilization, embryo adoption isn’t considered legal adoption in America. The government only sees human embryos as cells, and so treats embryo adoption as a mere transfer of property. As such, many fertility clinics prefer “embryo donation.”

Biblically informed Christians, however, shouldn’t shy away from using life-honoring terms. Just as Jesus was adopted by Joseph in a preborn state (not received as a donation from God), Christians should honor life by using theologically accurate language.

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6. How can I care for frozen children?

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Inform. Most people have never heard of embryo adoption. Those who have often confuse it with IVF. Much adoption evangelism needs to take place inside the church on behalf of these frozen lives. Share embryo adoption articles on social media. Talk with friends. Do research. Talk to your elders and your small group about ways your church can be involved in the mission field that is embryo adoption.

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Adopt. The most powerful way to care for these tiniest of children is to personally open a womb and a home to them. A great place to start is to check out the website of the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) in Knoxville, Tennessee.

When God Became an Embryo

Jesus didn’t leave his throne for a manager, at least not directly. He first left his throne nine months earlier for a womb.

How much grander is the story of the incarnation when we realize the Son of God went from ruling the universe to becoming the smallest, most dependent, most microscopic form of human life. The God who authored a world that can’t be measured, humbled himself into a form that can’t be seen.

And this same God who became a human embryo to save sinners would have his church stand up for the many human embryos regularly discarded or frozen indefinitely. Consider how you can expand your pro-life passion toward the littlest lives by championing the cause of embryo adoption.

As someone who believes women should have the unrestricted right to an abortion pre-viability, Wilson’s article is a reminder of the impossibility of working with pro-lifer’s to reduce the number of abortions. Unable to differentiate between a blob of cells and a human life, pro-lifers obstinately refuse to compromise their beliefs. This is why I no longer waste my time arguing or debating with members of God’s Zygote Squad®. Their Fundamentalist religious views have blinded them to the horrific damage caused by their incessant assault on reproductive rights. They will not rest until Ozzie and Harriett, Leave it to Beaver, and the Duggars are the gold standard for American families.

Christians Say the Darnedest Things: Women Are ‘Hosts’ for Fetuses by Oklahoma State Representative Justin Humphrey

justin humphrey

I believe one of the breakdowns in our society is that we have excluded the man out of all of these types [abortion] of decisions. I understand that they [women] feel like that is their body. I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant. So that’s where I’m at. I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.

— Justin “JJ” Humphrey, Oklahoma State Representative, The Intercept, February 13, 2016

Note

“Since 2011, lawmakers in Oklahoma have passed 20 such measures, a number of which have been blocked by the courts or are tied up in litigation.” Jordan Smith, The Intercept

Representative Humphrey introduced HB 1441, a bill, if enacted, that would give fathers (sperm donors) the final say on whether a woman could have an abortion.  The bill summary states:

The introduced measure prohibits the performance of an abortion without the written informed consent of the father. The pregnant woman seeking an abortion will be required to provide in writing the identity of the father to her physician. A person who contests paternity may demand such a test be performed. The measure would not apply in cases of rape, incest, or if the woman’s life is in danger.