Bevin said at that time:
"Be bold and be proud and be strong in your faith. And even when you find people that are from the supposed faith based community in some areas who mock themselves the idea of prayer as I found shockingly when I called people to prayer in one of our urban cities and I had pastors of churches mocking the idea that prayer was the answer, publicly, to the media."
Joe Phelps of Highland Baptist Church did indeed call out Bevin in an editorial. It was in response to an appalling meeting Matt Bevin had to address violence in the predominantly black section of Louisville known as the West End. In it, Bevin proposed only prayer walks to help address violence, and then told the people of this community how they should carry out those prayer walks, including how to conduct themselves. Phelps didn't mock prayer. Instead he called out Bevin's unwillingness to address the socioeconomic factors that play into violence and despair in these communities. He wrote:
There is power and mystery in prayer, as every clergyperson in that school auditorium would attest. We pray often throughout every day and trust prayer’s sacred power to connect us in ways that allow harmony and healing to flow.
Mature Christianity is formed by prayer in order to advocate for justice for all. We cannot simply pray for problems to miraculously disappear. Christians, like Christ, embody God’s dream. We hear the cries of the poor and, like Moses before Pharaoh, we demand change.
The governor’s answer: more prayer.
As if the only tool at this Christian governor’s disposal was prayer. Talk about hiding the ball.
As if fervent prayers aren’t offered daily by the people in Louisville’s blighted, violent area.
As if a few hours of white prayers will tip the divine scale and resolve a multi-generational inequity that will take generations to undo.
“To get caught up in this superficial spirituality… it’s borderline new-age mind science,” said Cosby. “That somehow just positive praying is going to effectually change the community. No, positive resources is what effectuates change in the neighborhood, not thoughts. And the Bible clearly teaches that faith without works is dead.”
Cosby said Bevin’s actions Thursday were more politically calculated than merely a well-intentioned but naive mistake, claiming the governor “was talking down to black people and he was blowing a dogwhistle to his white constituents.” He added that he was not only angry with Bevin, but was also “greatly disappointed in [Bevin’s] church,” Southeast Christian Church.
“Micah says ‘do justice, love mercy,'” said Cosby. “They love to do mercy ministry, it makes them feel good that they can come down here and do something. But I don’t want your mercy, I want justice. And if I get justice, I don’t need your handout. I can do it for myself.”
Here is the Southern Baptist Convention's statement in 1971, two year's before Roe Vs Wade:
WHEREAS, Christians in the American society today are faced with difficult decisions about abortion; and
WHEREAS, Some advocate that there be no abortion legislation, thus making the decision a purely private matter between a woman and her doctor; and
WHEREAS, Others advocate no legal abortion, or would permit abortion only if the life of the mother is threatened;
Therefore, be it RESOLVED, that this Convention express the belief that society has a responsibility to affirm through the laws of the state a high view of the sanctity of human life, including fetal life, in order to protect those who cannot protect themselves; and
Be it further RESOLVED, That we call upon Southern Baptists to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother
This makes it all the more fascinating that Bevin has, according to the Courier Journal, "called on all Baptist pastors and their congregations in Kentucky to answer if they stand with him "unapologetically on the side of life" or with Beshear, who he said favors "taking the life of child" and accepting "blood money" from abortion providers."
I wonder if Matt Bevin would like to discuss the assertion that the choice by southern evangelical Christians to make abortion grew out of pushback on efforts by the government to force desegregation of private schools.
I was raised to believe that faith was a private and personal thing. This meant that it was your personal business and also it wasn't your business to force your faith on others. While we attended church, I also lived in a house full of books, newspapers, magazines, and deep discussions about issues and concerns that extended beyond the simplistic faith tests that people like Matt Bevin like to slap on them.
And these faith tests are a major problem in Kentucky. The fact of the matter is that few social issues are simple, and few neatly follow a selective literal interpretation of the Bible.
If you believe thou shalt not kill and use it as your guidance as an absolute opinion on the Bible, can you give the state a pass when it comes to capital punishment? Can you give your neighbor a pass for shooting an intruder in self defense? How about soldiers at war? If you start putting moral qualifications on these actions or justifying them, who exactly is backing up your opinion? God? Jesus? Your pastor? You?
When it comes to abortion, my own Catholic faith teachers it is wrong. But my own head and heart, after years of reflection and study, say to me that it's not that simple, and the reasons to have abortions don't exist in a vacuum, and in the end truly shouldn't play into whether it is illegal or not.
The same faiths that attack the right to have abortion tend to have a puritanical view on human sexuality, sex education, and contraception. They also tend to view women as lesser beings with less authority both in church and outside. They create environments in which women who are pregnant feel shame and guilt above and beyond the men who got them pregnant. But they also ignore the reality that a woman is the only person who can carry the child to term and has to assume the financial and health risk that this entails then and beyond.
I do not know what Andy Beshear believes in his heart. But I do know that I personally do not see abortion as an afront to how I was raised or the basic idea of love and compassion for society. There are many reasons that women and couples seek abortions. They can be health related, financial related, or a decision to spare both them and their newborn prolonged agony outside the womb. Ultimately it is not my decision, Beshear's decision, or Bevin's decision to make for anyone. It's a decision for a woman, the partner she chooses to include, their doctor, and her own faith beliefs. And it appears at one time, the Southern Baptist church shared that point of view.
If we go back to Matt Bevin's previous attacks on the faith of others, we can point out that this is another area where Matt Bevin believes prayer is more important than doing something. Kentucky ranks 45th on the American Health Rankings 2018 report that factors in numerous measures of health, including behaviors, community & environment, policy and clinical care that reflect the personal, social, and environmental factors that influence the fifth model category, health outcomes.
If Matt Bevin is truly "pro-life", why is he not working more strenuously to improve our ranking, access to healthcare, and jobs and support systems that make it easier to give birth and raise a child?
Truly Matt Bevin's attacks on Andy Beshear's faith are just more cynical attempts to distract voters from Bevin's own terrible policies and behavior, which do almost nothing to support healthy and happy futures for the lives of Kentuckians.