Operation Rescue urges Calvary Chapel’s Pastor Smith to retract his advice and apologize to his listeners
UPDATE Feb. 17, 2011: We have word from our friends from Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust that a member of that group called the radio program and provided Pastor Smith with the phone number of a physician who handles complicated pregnancies such as Nicki’s without resorting to abortion. Under public pressure, co-host Don Stewart put out a appeal for Nicki to call the station for that number. We have been told that Nicki did in fact call and received the phone number of that physician from the program staff. We pray she gets the help and care she needs to honor both her life and the lives of her pre-born twins. We stand by our statement that Smith’s recommendation of abortion in this case was dead wrong.
Commentary by Troy Newman and Cheryl Sullenger
Costa Mesa, CA — Pastor Chuck Smith, founder of Calvary Chapel, shocked listeners on Tuesday on his “Pastor’s Perspective” call-in radio program when he encouraged a tearful mother to abort conjoined twins.
The caller, who identified herself as “Nicki from Riverside”, indicated that her babies share a body but have two heads and that she was being pressured by her doctors to abort them due to their assessment that the babies would likely not survive the pregnancy or live beyond a day if carried to term. At no time did Nicki indicate how far advanced her pregnancy was or that her life was in danger from the pregnancy.
Choking back tears Nicki told Smith and his co-host Dan Stewart, “My heart does – never wants to have an abortion, but I don’t know what to do. I don’t know — I don’t know what direction to go to right now. I’m really praying hard and trying to believe that the Lord is going to do what He’s going to do with these two little ones, and I don’t know what to do.”
It is obvious to us, with our combined 45 years of experience working with abortion vulnerable women, that Nicki did not want an abortion but was seeking some spiritual affirmation and encouragement that would help her amidst the pressure from her secular doctors to take the lives of her innocent babies. She got none from Smith and Stewart, who told her that God would not condemn her if she chose abortion.
“It’s awfully hard to actually suggest abortion,” said Smith. “But, you know, I’m sure that, uh, in a case like this where the life expectancy is just, you know, is so bleak, and all, that I’m sure that the Lord would not condemn her if she went ahead and had an abortion at this early stage of the development of the fetus.”
(Audio clip of Feb. 8, 2011, radio conversation)
Smith then went on to misuse the Biblical story found in John, Chapter 8, of the woman caught in the act of adultery and taken to Jesus for judgment. Jesus told the crowd who sought to condemn her, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” After the crowd disbanded in shame, Jesus told the woman, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.”
The way Smith used this passage, he was implying that abortion is sin, but that if she went ahead and sinned in this case, God would not hold it against her. There is no basis in traditional Christian theology to support Smith’s misuse of this incident in Scripture. Jesus told the woman to “go, and sin no more,” not to continue her sin with the expectation that God would not hold her to account.
While we respect Chuck Smith’s long service to God and his work in reaching the lost for Christ, his advice to Nicki regrettably showed extremely poor pastoral judgment. His answer was dead wrong, and could lead others to sin and error, along with a life-time of grief and remorse.
The Bible never condones the shedding of innocent blood nor does it allow for the taking of life based on the unfortunate circumstance that someone is sick. Instead, the Bible is full of recommendations to pray and fast for the sick.
Smith and Stewart attempted to “clarify” their advice to Nicki the following day on the Pastor’s Perspective broadcast, but in doing so only made a bad situation worse.
(Audio clip of Feb. 9, 2011, radio “clarification.”)
“I am totally opposed to abortion,” stated Smith. “I believe it is a great sin. I do believe that the 50-plus million children that have been aborted in the United State since the Roe verses Wade is one of the greatest sins of America, and I think that we’re going to be judged for it.”
However, in the next breath, Smith betrays his emphatic pro-life confession.
“I do not believe in abortion as it is being practiced today. However, there can be extenuating circumstances,” Smith continued.
Smith and his co-host then go on to completely mischaracterize the conversation with Nicki the previous day.
We hate to use the word “lie” but there is no other term for what the two pastors said next.
“As the lady said yesterday, the doctors were saying that her life was in jeopardy and carrying the babies, er, uh, baby that is in her womb with two heads, that the baby would not be able to survive more than five minutes after the birth, and that her life was jeopardized by it and she has a little two-year old daughter and I would say in a situation like that with these extenuating circumstances, that God would be gracious and forgiving. But that isn’t endorsing abortion at all…I’m totally opposed to abortion for just any reason, but I believe in being reasonable.”
Smith is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. One cannot say that abortion is justifiable with one breath then say that he is not endorsing abortion with the other. This kind of double-talk only serves to create confusion amongst believers. The Bible is clear; innocent bloodshed is not reasonable, it is sin.
As far as his version of Nicki’s story, the audio recording proves that she never said her life was in jeopardy or that the babies could not survive more than five minutes after birth. She repeatedly referred to her babies in the plural sense.
Smith referred to them as a “fetus” on the first day and later as “a baby with two heads,” language that served to dehumanize the twins in much the same way as abortionists do to justify their actions.
“It wasn’t about a deformity there, it was about something being life-threatening,” said co-host Don Stewart who went on to say that Smith was trying to explain her options in a “lose-lose” situation.
It was grieving to hear Stewart in such an obvious and blatantly deceptive damage-control mode.
Perhaps Smith and Stewart have forgotten that God is the Giver of Life that He alone numbers our days. The two men completely discount any thought that these babies might be given to Nicki and her husband to bring glory to Himself.
Take the example of Abigail and Brittney Hansel, conjoined twins that have been the subject of a special on TLC. Abigail and Brittney share one body. A YouTube video clip shows them celebrating their 16th birthday, each getting a driver’s license, and discussing the possibility of one day being mothers.
The girls are shown on another video clip answering questions about their condition. “How did you get this way?” one of the girls read off a list. “God made us this way,” answered the other.
Yes, God made them that way, and he made Nicki’s twins the way they are. If God decides to take their lives before birth or decides to give them long, productive lives like the Hansel twins, that is up to Him. It is not up to us to stand in the place of God and dictate the time and matter of death of innocent human beings, created in His image. Scripture calls that murder.
The least Smith and Stewart could have done was refer Nicki to a peri-natal hospice, such as the one operated by Choices Medical Clinic in Wichita, Kansas. Programs like these counsel families facing terminal diagnoses for their pre-born babies. They help the families cope with the stressful days ahead, support families through the grieving process, facilitate healing all the while allowing the families to show their babies dignity and love during their short lives.
Smith and Stewart owe their listeners a true Biblical perspective. We understand that people make mistakes, but when a mistake is made, we expect men of integrity own up to it and to do what they can to make it right. These men owe Nicki and their listeners a retraction and an apology.
Given the devastating consequences that could follow Pastor Smith’s unbiblical response to Nicki’s situation, perhaps he is at a time in his long and illustrious career that he should consider refraining giving further extemporaneous advice on call-in shows like Pastor’s Perspective.
Hat tip to Tim & Terry Palmquist