". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


Sick: Ohio Issue 1 Ads Present a False, ‘Pro-Abortion’ Jesus

November 7, 2023

Some elections have a deeper significance than choosing the policies that will guide us. They are harbingers of a spiritual and moral change taking place among our people. The election over Ohio’s Issue 1, where ads proclaim that followers of Jesus should be “pro-abortion,” is one such election.

For decades, politicians tried to cloak their abortion-expanding policies beneath protests that they were “personally opposed” and believed abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” The authors of Issue 1 insist Jesus would amend Ohio’s constitution to give people of all ages the “right” to make “reproductive decisions” ranging from unlimited abortion, to transgender surgeries, to potentially allowing prostitution.

Lest ye think I’m being overly dramatic, watch their ads and read their literature. Issue 1’s sponsors have quietly turned the political initiative into a public bout of spiritual warfare.

Perhaps the most offensive “Yes on 1” ad features a man dressed in clerical robes, overt religious symbolism in nearly every shot, and enough crosses to make the most staid MSNBC host shout “Christian nationalism!” if it supported life. “My faith tells me that people have a right to make decisions over their own bodies. That fundamental idea, that God gives us freedom, that’s at the heart of what it means to be in relationship with God,” says Terry Williams of the Orchard Hill United Church of Christ in Chillicothe, in rural southern Ohio. His parish “affirms the full inclusion and participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer persons in the life and leadership of our church,” states its website.

Like most satanic falsehoods, it contains a kernel of truth. Women seeking abortion need “my concern, my compassion, my solidarity, and my help. There is no division for Jesus in how you treat your neighbor and how you treat your god. And you show your religion by how you care for one another.” Allowing a fully distinct human being to be killed, possibly torn limb-from-limb without anesthesia seems a peculiar way to look out for “the least of these.” But Williams plants the seed of concern to reap the harvest of heresy.

“I am pro-abortion, not in spite of my faith, but because of my faith,” concludes Williams. “As people of faith, vote Yes for your neighbors to have the right to make their own decisions.”

In another Issue 1 ad, E. Regis Bunch of Cleveland’s Fifth Christian Church, a congregation of the fast-declining, liberal Disciples of Christ denomination states, “Our faith guides us to do what’s best for our families. But Ohio’s government is meddling where it does not belong. Issue 1 restores families’ freedom to make deeply personal decisions about abortion.”

Yet another ad features Susan K. Williams Smith, who for 22 years led the Advent United Church of Christ in Columbus, stating that abortion is part of “our liberation.” Smith now runs the perhaps aptly-named “Crazy Faith Ministries” in Columbus. The website states, “Rev. Sue believes in liberation theology as well as the teachings of Jesus” — with the “teachings of Jesus” coming in second. She admits, “social justice is our main tenant.” According to her alma mater, Yale Divinity School, she became so “fascinated” by Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s “prophetic voice” that she wrote the 2014 book “The Book of Jeremiah: The Life and Ministry of Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.” Her current undertaking, “Crazy Faith has no bricks-and-mortar home of its own but meets wherever there are social justice issues to confront,” explains Yale. “Members [include] Christians, Jews, Muslims, and atheists.” She is also a contributor to Jim Wallis’s Sojourners.

Finally, another Issue 1 ad features Tim Ahrens of First Congregational United Church of Christ (noticing a trend) in Columbus, who falls back on the only verse most social liberals know: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged,” he intones, his pointed fingers scanning the Bible. “Abortion is a private family decision,” he says. Issue 1 “gives families the freedom to make their own decisions without judgment and without the government getting involved. Vote yes.”

Ahrens went on to write an op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch in which he calls abortion “Godly work” and cites the Bible as a pro-abortion book. “I Corinthians 6:19 says, ‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?’ As our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, God blesses us to have the right to choose over our body, and the freedom to make the decisions that rightly protect our bodies for service in God’s name.” (Emphasis in original.)

The supporters of abortion have apparently settled on a faithful fig leaf to cover their naked advocacy of the abortion industry under the guise of “freedom.” In January, Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-Mich.) misquoted Jeremiah 1:5 — which says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you” — to say God gave mothers the freedom to choose abortion. Also this year, North Carolina State Rep. Diamond Staton-Williams (D-Cabarrus) said, “I know that, ultimately, I have been given the freedom of mind to make decisions for myself.” The most outspoken heretic in Congress, Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), has made similar arguments.

God undeniably gives us moral freedom, but that is far from the whole story — and a half-truth is a whole lie. My own background, the Eastern Orthodox Church, teaches that God created all human beings in His image and likeness. The image of God implies human beings have the capacity to make moral choices; however, the first time the human race did so, they rebelled against God. Although every one of their descendants still bears the image of God, we lack the likeness of God. Redeemed by Christ, we must conform our will to His. We do not walk in Christ’s footsteps by rejecting His plan for our lives. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service,” says the Apostle Paul (Romans 12:1). Willful disobedience to God’s commandments represents a form of pagan worship, heeding the call of the serpent who promised, “ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil for yourselves” (Genesis 3:5). After all, “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” (I Samuel 15:23).

And serpentine witchcraft pervades any attempt to reconcile Christianity and a “pro-abortion” stance. Christianity has an unbroken, 2,000-year tradition of teaching that life begins at conception, and abortion is a sin. The earliest Christian document outside the Bible, the Didache, states, “you shall not procure abortion, nor commit infanticide.” The Epistle of Barnabas also states, “You shall not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shall thou destroy it after it is born.”

Most of abortion’s supporters do not hide their spiritual allegiance. A decade ago, pro-abortion activists protesting Texas’s support for a bill protecting unborn life after 20 weeks tried to drown out Christians singing “Amazing Grace” at the statehouse by chanting “Hail Satan!” The Satanic Temple considers abortion a “sacrament.”

According to Ahrens, “The people opposing Issue 1 have shown me their true colors — hate in the name of Jesus.” But that would seem to better describe the side literally chanting “Hail Satan” while standing in league with The Satanic Temple. He admits, “Some [women] have been emotionally overwhelmed by” their decision to have an abortion, and “[s]ome grieve.” Yet like a modern-day pharisee, he throws his lot in with the billion-dollar abortion industry. To cloak his financially advantageous position, he falsely asserts that taking away “bodily autonomy … runs counter to the Hebrew Scriptures and the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” and that Judaism endorses abortion ... proving he represents the teachings of Judaism as faithfully as he does Christianity. Rabbi Mitchell Rocklin of the Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty has stated, “Judaism is pro-life.” As this author has previously noted:

  • The Talmud says the 7 Noahide laws, which prohibit shedding human blood (Genesis 9:6), include “a fetus that is in its mother’s womb. Accordingly, a descendant of Noah is liable for killing a fetus” (Sanhedrin 57b);
  • The foremost rabbinical authority, Maimonides (d. 1204), wrote that anyone “who slays any soul, even a fetus in its mother's womb, should be executed in retribution for its death”; and
  • Rabbi Shlomo Nachman denies that Exodus 21:22-25 differentiates between the miscarriage of a child and the death of a full person, saying the text refers to a premature birth, not an abortion which would be indicated by the Hebrew word “shachol.”

Faithful Christians proclaim, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Proverbs 33:12). At times past, the people of God have been tempted to follow strange gods, bringing the divine rebuke: “Blood is in their hands, and with their idols have they committed adultery, and have also caused their sons, whom they bare unto me, to pass for them through the fire, to devour them” (Ezekiel 23:27). This election is so important, because as the ads show, sometimes culture — and even religion — is downstream from politics. Perhaps the clearest message is: It is impossible to rebel against God and His design for life only a little bit. Eventually, it will slide into full-blown idolatry. That seems to be the intent of Issue 1’s supporters.

Today God calls to Ohio voters, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.