A week and a half ago I did something for the first time in my life. Something I had never expected to do.
I rallied together with over 4000 people who gathered at Martin Place, Sydney. We were brought together, from all over the city and beyond, to express our deep concern over the bill currently before the NSW Parliament that would not only legalise abortion but signal a drastic reduction in controls and barriers to prevent the death of the unborn.
It was a lively group of people who met at the Stand for Life event that evening. Young families, students, adults; many like me at their first such protest. Catholics, Orthodox, Mennonites and more, it quickly became clear that large numbers were from Sydney’s vast immigrant community – a healthy expression of the well over 60% of NSW residents who affirmed a religious affiliation at the last census and who now felt that their opinions were, once again, being ignored by a bunch of politicians who knew better.
It was a refreshingly apolitical and non-partisan crowd. My guess is that many of those holding placards and urging Parliament to uphold the dignity, worth and value of the unborn were the same religiously-minded voters who had given the Labor Party a lot to think about at the last Federal Election. Now they were here to tell a Liberal Premier that they weren’t best pleased with her either. Our Armenian head of government got zero preferential treatment from the Armenians in the crowd when an Armenian bishop addressed us. “Listen up Gladys” they shouted, their accents thick with what I can only assume was a Yerevan twang. We all joined in. Some things unite us across our many differences. Some things are far more important than party politics. Every person, even the unborn child, is far more important than party politics.
When the rally was over I sat over a burger with a few friends; a presbyterian minister and some others. Almost in unison, we asked ourself the obvious question. Where were the protestants? There were plenty of papal crosses and icons and banners from Catholic schools and we even got told off for inadvertently blocking a placard with the image of the Virgin. But where were the protestants? We could count four of us who shared fries over the table. We had the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney speaking from the platform. I saw a few other faces that I knew. But they were only a few.
Where were the protestants?
So I’ve decided to do something about it.
On the evening of Monday 2 September, St John’s Anglican Cathedral Parramatta (where I serve as Senior Associate Minister) will be hosting an event in our “Cathedral Conversations” series. We’re calling it “Choices: the conversation about abortion that we need to have”.
And we do need to have this conversation because our polite middle-class protestant churches are far too silent on this most important of issues. This is bigger than slavery. The slave traders only imprisoned people. The death rate on the boats that shipped their captives from Africa to the colonies was less than 20%. And each was a loss to the traders. A dead slave meant no money the other end. We gradually woke up to the barbaric inhumanity of it and decided enough was enough. Less than 20% by accident was enough to make us stop it.
In abortion the death rate of victims is designed to be 100%. And every one of them is deliberately killed. No wonder the crowds are shouting about it.
But where are the protestants?
I’m hoping they’ll be with us on Monday evening. We’ll be joined by Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies, the MP’s Tanya Davies and Tania Mihailuk (giving us a bipartisan report on all that has happened). We’ll hear from medical professionals and those working with mothers to show them the other options available and support them no matter what.
Come and join us if you’re not sure about this topic but want to hear more.
Come and join us if you’re already convinced that this is serious but don’t know what you can do about it.
Come and join us, Protestants, for a conversation we need to have. Catholic and Orthodox and everyone else welcome too.