Christians For Choice

Dr John Coulter asks a few questions of his fellow Christians in a piece that initially featured in the Tribune Magazine on 19 November 2013.  


It is hoped that leading American diplomat Richard Haass will broker a compromise deal between the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein before Christmas. Under this, Republicans would agree to the Union Jack again flying uninterrupted over Belfast City Hall, and allow a token Orange Order parade along the contentious Ardoyne shops route in north Belfast.In return, Unionists would give a green light to nationalists’ much-wanted Maze shrine, dressed up as a modern peace and reconciliation centre. Then both sides can claim victory in time for the 2014 European election.

Meanwhile, Christian socialists again find themselves “piggy in the middle” as the militant “pro-life” brigade in fundamentalism sparks another church-splitting crusade about abortion. Instead of taking a significant role at Stormont in making life better for the people in the pews, Irish Christians are more interested in fighting among themselves about women priests, gay marriage, gay adoption, gay blood donors and now abortion.

The Christian socialist message, based on the Sermon on the Mount, has been lost as militant Pentecostalists raise an uncompromising banner over abortion. Secularists point to the fall in numbers attending mainstream Christian churches as evidence that Ireland is steadily becoming a more pluralist society. But they are either ignoring or refusing to recognise the growing influence of Pentecostalism. Politically, Pentecostalism is largely a working class movement, so its growth might initially be seen as a godsend for Ireland’s Christian socialist cause. But such a view would be misguided.

The abortion debate has allowed the Roman Catholic Church to deflect attention away from the damaging clerical abuse scandals that have diluted the influence of the Irish bishops. Now militant Pentecostalists are using vigorous tactics in opposing abortion to portray themselves as the real champions of the increasingly vocal pro-life lobby, particularly in Northern Ireland.

One of the most fanatical of the evangelical pro-life groups is “We Shall Not Be Silent”, which is touring
churches throughout Ulster mobilising fundamentalist opinion.

Asked if all abortion was wrong, or if a termination could be allowed in some circumstances, the reply was brutally direct:

Our position is that all abortion is wrong. Our organisation is about promoting life and no matter how this life comes into existence he or she deserves maximum protection. We seek to educate people to prove and defend the personhood of an unborn child.

In more than 35 years in journalism, I have only been physically sick twice during an assignment. The first time was during a visit to Auschwitz death camp in Poland. The second was this month when I attended a militant pro-life “training session” in a Pentecostal church.

Part of the session included a large-screen viewing of a termination. Although the congregation was only subjected to the one-minute version, it made me physically ill. And it has pushed me firmly into the pro-choice camp.

I have asked militant pro-lifers what they would do if a pregnancy went wrong and it was a choice between saving their wives’ lives or terminating the unborn child. The answer from some evangelical Christian men was frightening. They said that the woman had had her life, so they would let her die and let the baby live as it had its entire life to look forward to. And these militant male pro-lifers are wholly unrelenting in their “All abortion is wrong” stance. Such was the gut-wrenching presentation by “We Shall Not Be Silent” that in trying not to vomit in the church, I missed whatever the connection was between its campaign against abortion and the equally gruesome photos it showed of a black man murdered in the American Deep South for having two white girlfriends.

Given the brutal nature of these militant pro-lifers’ presentations, I left that church meeting with a burning question: who is the real enemy that Christian socialists in Ireland should be opposing?Perhaps Christian socialists need to get their act together on the abortion issue. Maybe we need to see a new pressure group – Christians For Choice? Ironically, it seems the secularists may have some new friends– militant pro-lifers. Because what right-thinking Christian wants to be linked to the fanatical anti-abortion crusade.


  1. I see you mention the irish bishops covering up molesting childer and your right.BUT when you get time could you give us a run down on Kincora.just to level the playing field sort of.

  2. billy brooks:

    did not one of the great doctor coulters relatives work at kincora.

  3. I like how you use the words "militant and fanatical" to describe those who are pro-life.

    I wonder if you would describe using invasive procedures to forcibly terminate the life of a living. breathing creation as "militant and fanatical"

    The sad fact is, that young woman are buying into the lie that abortion is just another form of birth control.

    Long after the brutal procedure, planned parenthood has left the young woman to deal with the aftermath on her own.

    This is of course after the bill is paid.

  4. Dr. Coulter dismisses those Christians whom disagrees with as 'fundamentalists', implying bug-eyed loonies or suicide-bombers in waiting. The true about Christian opposition to abortion, however, is that it is the historic evangelical position. It is Dr. Coulter who is far off from Christianity. His 'Christian socialist' message is not the message of the Bible, just a twisting of the truth to give credence to one's own pet theories.

    Remarkable too that his revulsion at seeing one minute of a large-screen viewing of a termination seemed to be that it was shown, not that this is what abortion entails! I'm horrified when I watch film of Jews being sent to the gas-chambers, but it does not cause me to support their gassing and complain that it is shown.

    The good Dr. has every right to his views, but it's a pity that he passes them off as Christian.

  5. I use to support a womans choice to abortion but after us having a child and experiencing the miracle of it, I find myself thinking it is just murder. However, it is not up to me to decide on it. I see both sides of the argument.

  6. Onward Christian soldiers but not the women they have to stay at home and do as the holy book says.
    More extremist musings from the good Dr. If anything Christianity should liberate women as it is basically a man’s world one where women are usually seen but not heard.
    The extremist portico should have a sign abandon all hope ye who enter here.

    I wonder if you and the other religious fanatics believe that life is sacred or is it just the misogynist misinterpreted rules of control the holy books give a religious license to class women as far lesser than man.

    Does that mean there is two kinds of sacred life man the controller and woman the controlled?

    I can imagine my better half waking me up announcing she is pregnant an angel came to her last night and told her so.
    I don’t think a man alive today would be as graceful as Joseph upon hearing that news. It would be more a case of aye, right, who is the bastard.

    Your abortion stance is purely church misogynist madness.

    We are hard wired to procreate like any other animals the only difference being we climbed to the top of the ladder and unlike other species there is little to keep our over population from growing.

    That is not an argument for abortion but I don’t see any evidence of any god providing food and shelter for the masses. We had our own great hunger here not so long ago and god like the English abandoned us to starve and die slow miserable deaths.

    I don’t believe for a second that religious extremists care one iota for the sanctity of the unborn life religious wars and slaughter throughout modern history might suggest that life is sacred but only if you believe in my god.

    I read the bible both versions and other holy books not because some mystical force is awaiting my soul in another world but because they are filled with mythological tales and short stories.

    I do believe in a higher force after all we didn’t just magically show up here but like every other organism we somehow managed to evolve from the primordial soup and even though we don’t notice we will continue to evolve.

    Just because we have opposable thumbs and the ability to reason doesn’t make us special or godlike we are like every other organism trying to survive and hoping our biological clock doesn’t run out too soon.

    Why would an all knowing god let a species over-populate probably because there is no god and the genetic drive to procreate is a selfish one ensuring our genes stay within the gene pool in a sense ensuring we live on until the world or mankind destroys the world either by natural causes or a nuclear war.

  7. Why does almost everyone say "It's a womans right to abort or not"..?

    Don't men have a say in the matter? Don't mens feelings count too?

    All this 'it's a womans body'..That is crap to me.

  8. Tain Bo-

    Enjoyed reading your comment-when
    people think for themselves a lot
    becomes more clear-

    " I don't think a man alive today would be as graceful as Joseph "-

    It takes all kinds to live whilst the world turns-
    Before Joseph and Mary actually got married Mary found she was
    pregnant and in that time and place that meant death by stoning as Joseph knew he could not be the father-
    [ I don't think that who ever was the father got stoned to death ]-
    But Joseph believed Mary that a Angel had made her with child and the rest as they say is history-

    One thing I found odd about the
    day Jesus was born was that a Angel warned Joseph that king Herod will seek the young child
    and destroy him so Joseph had to take his family to Egypt out of harms way but no Angels went to the rest of the family's who had sons from two years to a babe to warn them of the killer swords which were coming-

    Only one was saved-A hierarchy of
    non victims was set-

  9. Mickey,

    Thanks, you are too generous mate.

    I never did think about that but well spotted a wee bit of elitism there wiring off Mary and Joseph but not letting on to the other families.

    You make me wonder what sort of people Mary and Joseph were after all I am sure they had friends and family that had a newborn round the same time yet they up and bugger off doing the dirt on everyone else.

    It is a popular theme as when the Pharaoh defied Moses our merciful god came and wiped out all of Egypt’s first born.

    I wonder what he would do if he was really rattled about something.

    I never hear the fanatical Christians complain about god being a baby killer.


    sorry that made me laugh as you are right though I am glad it’s the woman that has to go through childbirth.

    I don’t think that’s what is meant as it is more about men losing the control over the woman.
    When it comes from religious quarters I tend to ignore their ravings but the argument outside of religion on abortion is an interesting ethical one.

    I said it before I doubt abortion rates would rocket if it was legal the world over.

  10. Tain Bo,
    I understand where you are coming from (I hope I do) about women going through child birth. I've been up close and personal at three child births, one by emergency cesarean. And it's not a pretty sight. Luckily the other two births were straight foward and no complications.

    My point is, what if the man is prepapred to take on the kid, raise the child etc..but the woman decided to abort regardless what the man thinks. It's not fair on the man. And again yes it is the womans body but it's not her life. The baby in her womb is an indivual.

    I can understand terminations in certain case and I think it is justified. The Savita Halappanavar case, where she was clearly going through a miscarriage and doctors refused to abort. In that case, abotion is justified or recently where cases of women carry 'dead' babies in their wombs but becasue of some daft NI law they have to go full term (unless they travel England) abortion is the right choice..

    But if a couple end up having breakfast, he went bare back and she gets a bun in the oven. My opinion is take it on the chin and go full term. if after the 9mths neither want the responsibilty of raising a child, well there are hundreds of couples going through various forms of IVF who would love to adopt..

  11. Frankie,

    I am glad things worked out well for the complicated birth of your child and your other half and I hope all 3 of your kids are doing well.

    I understand where you are coming from but it is one of those unwritten laws and we men have to bite the bullet even at the best of times.

    I agree with you under those circumstances when a man is willing to accept the responsibility and rear a child but the woman decides to abort for whatever reason that is unfair as the baby in the womb belongs to the father as much as it belongs to the mother.
    I am not so sure the same unfairness would apply when waking up with a woman and barely remembering the night before let alone her name that sounds like a recipe for possible disaster.

    I don’t necessarily agree with the argument it is a woman’s body there for she should have the choice as it becomes redundant by the fact that the woman chose to have unprotected sex and that leads to a higher chance of an unwanted pregnancy.

    It is a difficult issue to navigate an extremely emotional one that pushes the boundaries of moral and ethical behaviour.
    Perhaps I am blinded and try to look at the reason a woman would want an abortion. I am sure in some cases it is purely selfishness as a baby would completely change a certain life style. In many cases it would be a mixture of fear and honesty that the woman knows she is not ready for the responsibility of being a parent.
    Let’s be honest there is no guarantee from a husband or boyfriend that they will be there to raise the child.
    Then there are medical reasons and other issues such as rape and incest.

    I would venture to say there are plenty of cases where the man encourages the woman to have an abortion.

    As for adaption I believe most couples want a new born which in a sense is selective selfishness as there are plenty of unwanted young children in homes.

    I suppose that if a woman knows she is not prepared to be a mother for whatever reason she has 3 choices abort the baby, give it up for adaption, or keep the child.

    Honestly Frankie I try to understand the reasons why some women have abortions. Even though my other half is well past her child bearing days if the issue had arisen between us I would have encouraged her to have the child.

    I suppose the end game is, is it right or wrong probably a little of both depending on your view I would see it as one of the most difficult choices a person would have to make.
    I suppose what might be right for the few may be wrong for the many.