More than 20 religious leaders of different faiths assembled Tuesday to bless Planned Parenthood’s new abortion mega-clinic in Washington, DC, praising its “sacred work.”
“In almost every message to our staff, I talk about our doing sacred work,” said Dr. Laura Meyers, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington. “This confirms the sacredness of the work we do.”
The event was organized by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and included “leaders from different Christian denominations, a rabbi, abortion providers, a Planned Parenthood patient, Hindu priests, an Imam over Skype, visual art, and a liturgical dance.”
Rabbi Michael Namath of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism led the faith leaders in prayer, invoking their obligation to make the world to “whole and holy.”
“May the ones who bless our ancestors bring healing on all in need,” Namath said after reciting a text in Hebrew. “God, let your spirit rest upon these caregivers, who serve as instruments of your hands.”
A number of Christians participated as well, offering “progressive voices” to counter the orthodox Christian understanding of abortion as the sin of murder.
“I’ve been a Christian longer than I’ve been an abortion provider,” said celebrated pro-choice activist Willie Parker. “Women have been made to think that this is some evil place, where God is not.”
Parker denounced those who would criticize women for making “sacred decisions,” referring to the choice to abort their children.
“Our answer to the curse is to bless,” he said.
“The conservative voices are big,” said Rev. Dr. Christine Wiley of Baptist United Church of Christ. “It drowns out the progressive voices, but it’s not that progressive voices aren’t there.”
Dr. Serina Floyd, the medical director at Planned Parenthood, said that “patients express shame, guilt, or fear about how God will perceive them.” Underscoring the importance of a change in perception, Floyd said: “Now I can tell patients that this is a blessed space.”
Floyd says she looks forward to telling patients that “those of faith also support your decisions.”
The faith leaders were joined over skype by Imam Daayiee Abdullah, reportedly America’s first openly gay imam. Two Hindu priests, Venkatesh Vadhyar and Bragadeesh Balasubramanian, also joined in the blessing, chanting to provide “a good vibration to the building” so that anyone coming in “will be healed soon.”
Rev. Christine Wiley, an African American, tied her support for Planned Parenthood to the historic struggle of blacks in the U.S. “African Americans have been used to a sense of adversity and oppression, so this is just another thing,” she said. “We’ve been in worse places than this.”
Last fall, however, a group of 26 leading black Christian clergy and intellectuals wrote an “open letter” to Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, noting that abortion-on-demand has had a “catastrophic impact” on the black community in the U.S.
The black Christian leaders, including eight African American bishops, said that black babies “are dying at terrifying rates,” and asked: “Don’t black lives matter?”
In their letter, the leaders noted that the rate of abortion among blacks is far higher than among whites, with “365 black babies aborted for every 1,000 that are born.”
“Blacks account for roughly 38% of all abortions in the country though we represent only 13% of the population,” they said, citing statistics that have led black Christian leaders to speak of a “black genocide” occurring at the hands of abortionists.
At Tuesday’s blessing ceremony, the group sang “This Little Light of Mine,” a hymn taken from Christ’s words to his disciples, “You are the light of the world” and his call to them to provide light to those around them.
They did not, however, sing another hymn inspired by Christ’s words: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.”
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