writes in this month's Nebraskans for Peace newsletter [excerpts with
My state has three representatives who say that they are
pro-life. Adrian Smith is a "Christian," Lee Terry a Methodist, and Jeff
Fortenberry a Catholic. They are not hearing from one religious authority, but
they have one "life" message.
When I go to churches, I hear homilies that tell me that I would have
committed a mortal sin had I voted for anyone not pro-life. Local and national
religious authorities call for a "consistent ethic of life": anti-abortion,
anti-capital punishment and anti-assisted suicide. Fundamentalists on the
religious right call for similar goals, especially on abortion.
In the case of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, a life-ethic meant more: a
condemning of the idea of nuclear deterrence. But when Nebraska votes, it
means nothing about war or most forms of death ....
To take the House of Representatives as an example, the "consistent ethic
of life,"the "reverence for life" that our representatives, Smith, Fortenberry
and Terry, profess means opposing abortion (mostly this) and perhaps assisted
suicide. They appear to accept the death penalty through inaction. They do
not oppose nuclear deterrence. They do not question "shock and awe" bombs or
surge raids that abort mothers in Iraq. They are, to all intents and purposes,
silent when mothers in Darfur have to birth babies destined for bloated bellies
and flies in their eyes as they eke out their few days before dying. They do not
testify loudly enough to be heard about children in the U.S., Africa, Asia and
South America starving or dying from war, AIDS, malnutrition or multi-national
If we, as peace people, value an ethic of life, we may well ask, "Do our
representatives represent the same ethic?" If so, why, in the 109th Congress,
did all of our representatives - including Tom Osborne - vote for funding the
continued occupation of Iraq with its murder of civilians? Why have they all
continued to justify the initial illegal invasion of Iraq and the ouster and
execution of Saddam Hussein as aspects of the "War on Terror"? Why did they
vote against prohibiting military action against Iran? Why did they oppose
cutting funds for the so-called "missile defense program" that is destabilizing
the international nuclear situation and prompting a new arms race? Were they
'life-people' when they voted to share nuclear technology with India, a
non-signatory to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty? Did life-reverence tell
them to oppose increased humanitarian aid for refugees? ....
Why did Terry, Fortenberry and Smith vote against the crucial "Fairness in
Farm and Food Policy" Farm Bill amendment ... ? ... Our guys know that our
subsidized corn, beans, rice and cotton, regularly dumped on the international
markets, drive small farmers in other lands off their farms - increasing hunger,
dependent urban ghettoes and the likelihood of civil strife and terrorism. They
know that we - and the Europeans - have been the primary causes of the
breakdowns in the Doha Round WTO trade talks designed to prevent such dumping.
Do they know that there is no reverence for life in such a vote? Do they know
that 798 million people in the world suffer from chronic hunger because of
Why did Terry, Smith and Fortenberry vote against the Children's Health
Care Bill extending health insurance to six million unserved U.S. children ...
Where is the "consistent ethic of life" in that vote? Or in their votes on
Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, military spending, world hunger, hunger in America and
world poverty? They did not get their positions from the Pope's statements on
the Iraq war, poverty, and hunger. Or from any mainline Protestant leaders'. Or
from Sojourner's evangelicals.
We Nebraskans can toot our horns until hell freezes over about how we
revere life. But we do not do so as voters in any meaningful way. We do not
care when we send representatives like these to Washington. We do not
Labels: Abortion, Health Care, Peace