Dr. Tiller’s Crucifixion and Resurrection

TrustingWomen

I recently had the honor of addressing a group of abortion providers on "Resurrecting Our Moral Center." I do not think it was coincidental that less than a year after Tiller's murder, we were talking about resurrection. God, how much we miss him.

I am drinking my morning coffee. Shortly, I will head to morning service at the Unitarian Church.  I wonder what Dr. Tiller’s Sunday morning was like, that Sunday one year ago when he was gunned down in his church.

A couple months ago, I had honor of addressing a group of abortion providers. The topic was “Resurrecting Our Moral Center.”  I do not think it was coincidental that less than a year after Tiller’s murder, we were talking about resurrection. God, how much we miss him.

In that talk, I said that I did not think that the abortion providing community’s moral center needed to be resurrected. It had never died. I knew it had not died because if it had, the providers who have continued to serve women, the providers who have increased their gestational limits to take the patients St. George would have served, would not have done and continued to do what they do: provide women abortions and, in particular, provide later-term abortions.

After I gave that talk, I was discussing this idea of resurrection with a leading feminist theologian with whom I have been blessed to study. I told her how sad I was that this community of people so clearly grounded in a profound ethic of love and compassion felt that their “moral center” had died, so sad that they could not articulate what I see so vividly: a beaming moral and spiritual core that radiates through the community’s service to women.

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And then she said to me “but there WAS a crucifixion. Because crucifixion is about the State executing an individual who is too powerful, too destabilizing to the oppressive status quo. If there was a crucifixion, then the community does need a resurrection. The community needs to remember that all that Dr. Tiller was, all he did, DID NOT die in his assassination.”

For many of us, particularly those involved in medicine and science, religious (particularly Christian) terms like resurrection, crucifixion, and God make us queasy and for good reason, reasons I will not rehash here. But the fact of the matter was they did not make Tiller queasy. George Tiller had faith.

Dr. Tiller also had a God box.  As I understand it, when there was an issue he could not figure out, he would right it down and put it in The God Box.  “A man has got to know his limitations” repeated Tiller.  God is a tricky term/concept, but in my most cynical moments, that “thing” to which the word “God” points helps me to check my hubristic tendencies, to check the ego-inflating, savior-striving habits to which many of us liberal professionals too easily succumb. Another Tillerism: “Ego trips are expensive.”

Tiller was able to do what many of us liberals have not: harness profound spiritual and religious power, providing abortions later than almost all of his colleagues.  I find it difficult to believe that his deep grounding in a spiritual/religious tradition was unconnected to the radically compassionate nature of his work.

“There may be a conflict between softminded religionists and toughminded scientists, but not between science and religion. Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives humans knowledge which is power; religion gives humans wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary. Science keeps religion from sinking into the valley of crippling irrationalism and paralyzing obscurantism. Religion prevents science from falling into the marsh of obsolete materialism and moral nihilism.”

-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

George Tiller was murdered in his church, in his (liberal) religious community. He called his work a reproductive ministry. And while terrorists tragically ended his life, they did not end the work to which he (and all those working at Women’s Health Care Services) dedicated their life.  Tiller finds good company among the ancient prophets who spoke truth to power, who kept on keeping-on with the faith that one day justice shall “roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.”

Our moral center never died. And, with each abortion delivered in compassion and care, George Tiller, Barnett Slepian, Shannon Lowey, Leanne Nichols, John Britton, and David Gunn are resurrected.

News Politics

Clinton Campaign Announces Tim Kaine as Pick for Vice President

Ally Boguhn

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

The Clinton campaign announced Friday that Sen. Tim Kaine (R-VA) has been selected to join Hillary Clinton’s ticket as her vice presidential candidate.

“I’m thrilled to announce my running mate, @TimKaine, a man who’s devoted his life to fighting for others,” said Clinton in a tweet.

“.@TimKaine is a relentless optimist who believes no problem is unsolvable if you put in the work to solve it,” she added.

The prospect of Kaine’s selection has been criticized by some progressives due to his stances on issues including abortion as well as bank and trade regulation.

Kaine signed two letters this week calling for the regulations on banks to be eased, according to a Wednesday report published by the Huffington Post, thereby ”setting himself up as a figure willing to do battle with the progressive wing of the party.”

Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive political action committee Democracy for America, told the New York Times that Kaine’s selection “could be disastrous for our efforts to defeat Donald Trump in the fall” given the senator’s apparent support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Just before Clinton’s campaign made the official announcement that Kaine had been selected, the senator praised the TPP during an interview with the Intercept, though he signaled he had ultimately not decided how he would vote on the matter.

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Kaine’s record on reproductive rights has also generated controversy as news began to circulate that he was being considered to join Clinton’s ticket. Though Kaine recently argued in favor of providing Planned Parenthood with access to funding to fight the Zika virus and signed on as a co-sponsor of the Women’s Health Protection Act—which would prohibit states and the federal government from enacting restrictions on abortion that aren’t applied to comparable medical services—he has also been vocal about his personal opposition to abortion.

In a June interview on NBC’s Meet the Press, Kaine told host Chuck Todd he was “personally” opposed to abortion. He went on, however, to affirm that he still believed “not just as a matter of politics, but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions.”

As Rewire has previously reported, though Kaine may have a 100 percent rating for his time in the Senate from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the campaign website for his 2005 run for governor of Virginia promised he would “work in good faith to reduce abortions” by enforcing Virginia’s “restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother.”

As governor, Kaine did support some existing restrictions on abortion, including Virginia’s parental consent law and a so-called informed consent law. He also signed a 2009 measure that created “Choose Life” license plates in the state, and gave a percentage of the proceeds to a crisis pregnancy network.

Regardless of Clinton’s vice president pick, the “center of gravity in the Democratic Party has shifted in a bold, populist, progressive direction,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in an emailed statement. “It’s now more important than ever that Hillary Clinton run an aggressive campaign on core economic ideas like expanding Social Security, debt-free college, Wall Street reform, and yes, stopping the TPP. It’s the best way to unite the Democratic Party, and stop Republicans from winning over swing voters on bread-and-butter issues.”

News Politics

Former Klan Leader on Senate Run: My Views Are Now the ‘GOP Mainstream’

Teddy Wilson

David Duke has been a fervent support of the Trump campaign, and has posted dozens of messages in support of Trump on Twitter. Duke has often used the hashtag #TrumpWasRight.

David Duke, convicted felon, white supremacist, and former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, announced Friday that he will run for U.S. Senate in Louisiana, Roll Call reported.

Duke said that after a “great outpouring of overwhelming support,” he will campaign for the open Senate seat vacated by former Republican Sen. David Vitter, who lost a bid for Louisiana governor in a runoff election.

Duke’s announcement comes the day after Donald Trump accepted the GOP nomination in the midst of growing tensions over race relations across the country. Trump has been criticized during the campaign for his rhetoric, which, his critics say, mainstreams white nationalism and provokes anxiety and fear among students of color.

His statements about crime and immigration, particularly about immigrants from Mexico and predominantly Muslim countries, have been interpreted by outlets such as the New York Times as speaking to some white supporters’ “deeper and more elaborate bigotry.”

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Duke said in his campaign announcement that he was the first candidate to promote the policy of “America first,” echoing a line from Trump’s nomination acceptance speech on Thursday night.

“The most important difference between our plan and that of our opponents, is that our plan will put America First,” Trump said Thursday night. “As long as we are led by politicians who will not put America First, then we can be assured that other nations will not treat America with respect.”

Duke said his platform has become “the GOP mainstream” and claimed credit for propelling Republicans to control of Congress in 2010. He said he is “overjoyed to see Donald Trump … embrace most of the issues I’ve championed for years.”

Trump in February declined to disavow the support of a white supremacist group and Duke, saying he knew “nothing about David Duke” and knew “nothing about white supremacists.” He later clarified that he rejected their support, and blamed his initial failure to disavow Duke on a “bad earpiece.”

Trump’s candidacy has also brought to light brought many incidents of anti-Semitism, much of which has been directed at journalists and commentators covering the presidential campaign.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro wrote in the National Review that Trump’s nomination has “drawn anti-Semites from the woodwork,” and that the Republican nominee has been willing to “channel the support of anti-Semites to his own ends.”

Duke took to Twitter after Trump’s acceptance speech Thursday to express his support for the Republican nominee’s vision for America.

“Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders!, Fair Trade! Couldn’t have said it better!” Duke tweeted.

Duke has been a fervent Trump supporter, and has posted dozens of messages in support of Trump on Twitter. Duke has often used the hashtag #TrumpWasRight.

Duke was elected to the Louisiana house in 1989, serving one term. Duke was the Republican nominee for governor in 1991, and was defeated by Democrat Edwin Edwards.

Duke, who plead guilty in 2002 to mail fraud and tax fraud, has served a year in federal prison.