Last night at the ACLU & Planned Parenthood Campaign for Teen Saftey phone bank, I had maybe the single nicest and most hopeful voter contact I’ve ever had. I called the very first name on my list, and the woman who answered the phone gave me the direct line of who I was trying to reach – and said I’d called a convent! Given the sensitive topic I was calling about, I was a little worried about what was coming next.
I dialed the direct number, and the woman who picked up said she was indeed following the special election, and that she was glad I called. She listened patiently to the whole schpiel, and then told me that while she was indeed Catholic and she firmly believes in the sanctitiy of life, she was voting no on 73. The reason? She works at one of the largest homeless shelters in the city, and she’s seen the effect that laws like this have firsthand. She said this will absolutely increase the number of teens who end up with no option but the streets, and although this was a difficult issue she could not do that.
This one short conversation spoke volumes to me about the interplay of faith and works. The church I grew up in taught that works aren’t required for salvation. As Martin Luther put it, sola fide, or “faith alone” is. Grace isn’t something that gets racked up like stock options; it’s poured out onto everyone by a loving and just God. This is a very different way of thinking about God than the fundamentalist caricature of Christianity that’s so prevalent in our culture.
Of course, they also told us that sola fide doesn’t mean “take it easy!” It’s the awareness of grace that moves progressives, not the fear of wrath. This idea lies at the heart of the perennial wisdom that all religions (and for that matter, most humanist philosophies) share and it still seems revolutionary today. It’s easy to see why Martin Luther got in as much trouble as he did for suggesting it five hundred years ago!
My hope is that this call was part of a pattern of re-awakening to a basic truth: if we really want fewer abortions, criminalization is not the answer. The right answer is making a real committment to building a just and moral society.
I grumble a lot about phone banking, and I’m really looking forward to the day when our side knows they have to vote as consistently as the conservative blocs that always, always turn out. Then maybe we won’t have to do it so much. But calls like this are a good reminder of what it’s all about. There are a lot more to make between now and the election – it’s easy to sign up at NoOnProposition73.org if you’d rather just talk about this issue than “nix the first six.”