Pastor Raphael Warnock of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Georgia, is facing debate from all sides these days. As an up-and-coming congressman from the historically red state that hasn’t been blue since Bill Clinton won the presidency back in 1992, Warnock is being challenged on everything he stands for. In his recent debate with incumbent Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler, he was repeatedly called “Radical Liberal Raphael Warnock,” as though he’s the most extreme Democrat to run for office. He’s never been as extreme as Bernie Sanders, and to assume otherwise is to smear the good Pastor’s name. But Loeffler isn’t above these types of political tactics because the voters of Georgia didn’t vote her in; she was selected to fill the seat. Perhaps it’s to her benefit to remain senator, but whether or not it’s in Georgia’s best interest is indeed, the topic on the ballot come January.
tony dungy’s anti-christian attack
And now, it seems, after Warnock’s impressive debate with Loeffler, Fox News, a pro-Republican news outlet, wants to take its own jabs at Warnock. How? By highlighting Tony Dungy’s response to Warnock as a pro-choice Christian. Warnock tweeted, “I am a pro-choice pastor.” A Twitter user pointed out Warnock to the Super Bowl Champion Head Coach, and he responded with the words, “Rev Warner [sic] may be a pastor. My question would be ‘is he a Christian?’ That is, does he follow the teachings of Jesus and does he believe that the Bible is the absolute Word of God?”
There are a few problems with Tony Dungy’s response regarding Pastor Warnock.
It attacks warnock’s christian faith and belief
This is an attack that is as old as time, but it couldn’t be any less shocking than it’s ever been. It’s just a cheap hit from Tony Dungy to question if Warnock is a Christian. The man is a Pastor, whose sermons have been based on Scripture. He’s the Pastor of a Baptist church, and even black Baptists are historically conservative when it comes to Scripture. Growing up in my conservative Baptist church, I saw young men who weren’t allowed to wear braids of any kind in their hair to worship. Those who did were stared at the entire time they were at church. And black Baptists are regarded as conservative by lots of pollsters and survey companies. Warnock is likely preaching against homosexual practice at his church, though politically, he’s running to protect the rights of all. He’s no Christian apostate, by any means.
Dungy really hits below the belt when he questions Warnock’s Christianity. He has no right to say whether or not Pastor Warnock is a Christian. Dungy, being a staunch Republican, knows that there’s one condition for being a Christian: having faith in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross and rose on the third day (John 3:16; Romans 10:9). Nowhere does Scripture teach that you have to believe in Republican politics to be saved. Dungy is taking a political view of pro-life, where the government decides that a child must live, and throwing it into the faith arena. Being pro-life doesn’t make you any more saved than being pro-choice. Faith in Jesus is what saves or condemns (John 3:18), and Warnock clearly believes in Jesus.
Dungy isn’t God. He knows the Bible well enough to know that he isn’t God; he’s a mere mortal man. To know if Warnock is “not Christian,” as he suggests, he’d have to be God and omniscient. He isn’t. Using such an attack on a fellow Christian’s salvation just wasn’t the right response on social media, or anywhere else. We’re not to judge anyone’s salvation because we don’t know the true measure of a man’s heart. We can only judge by what we can see, and, with Pastor Warnock’s work as a preacher and a community leader, we can safely presume he is a man of God. Whether he truly is, or whether even Tony Dungy himself is, is something only God can truly know.
Dungy will be judged by the same God as Pastor Raphael Warnock. The statement made is a cheap Christian attack at a man who, by all appearances, is just as God-fearing as Dungy. The attack by Tony Dungy wasn’t justified and was uncalled for.
Pro-Choice isn’t pro-abortion
A Twitter user points out something that I’ve said here in recent weeks: to be pro-choice is not pro-abortion. There’s a difference between the two. To be pro-abortion is to be in full support of mothers aborting their children, regardless of procedure, method, place, circumstances, and so on. And yet, even Democrats are fine with regulations placed on legal abortions here in the US. No Democrat approves of back-alley abortions, but rather, regulated abortion clinics and procedures that require pregnant mothers to fill out paperwork and notify a recognized clinic of her intent to abort her child. It is illegal to abort a child without seeking professional, medical counsel or advice. Any mother that terminates her child via illegal means will serve jail time.
And Democrats recognize there are circumstances that justify an abortion, such as possible death or dire health circumstances for the pregnant mother. Some women could die in childbirth if they have their children. These mothers have to make the painful choice of terminating a pregnancy they wanted, of doing away with a child they loved and wanted to raise and welcome to their family.
Democrats approve of regulated abortion in the same way they approve of gun regulations and tougher gun legislation reform. Anything that can kill and harm humanity must be regulated, whether it be surgical abortion procedures, contraception, which prevents impregnation, or alcohol, drugs such as marijuana (hence the rising medicinal marijuana movement), explosives, matches, and firearms.
To give parents rights over whether or not to have their children is to be pro-choice. It isn’t the same as being pro-abortion, however. To give someone a choice doesn’t mean you approve of their choice. A coach may tell a teenager, “go to after-school tutoring this semester and get your grades up, or leave the basketball team.” If the child chooses to leave the team because he or she doesn’t want to improve his or her grades, is that child’s decision to leave the fault of the coach? Not at all. The child could’ve chosen to stay on the team and improve his or her grades, but failed to do so.
In the same way, to be pro-choice is to be pro-CHOICE, for the choice — not for one particular option such as abortion.
Tony Dungy is a Republican Christian who believes every life is a gift from God. Pastor Raphael Warnock believes the same, though he believes every woman has a right over whether to have her child or abort her child. Dungy attacks Warnock’s Christianity, a low blow to a man who does profess faith and preaches the words of Jesus every Sunday.
The fact of the matter is that Dungy assumes that being pro-choice is pro-abortion. It’s a common misconception that Republicans have about Democrats. Unfortunately, it’s an easy “strawman” argument Republicans build to tear down Democrats. Republicans have got to do better in understanding their Christian Democratic opponents across the aisle.
Warnock believes in Jesus. He preaches the words of Jesus in Scripture and lives by them himself. He is a man who teaches and preaches Scripture and is a community leader who tries to help better his community. In every way, from outside appearances at least, Warnock is saved. Perhaps Tony Dungy should take time to understand Warnock by visiting Ebenezer Baptist Church and listening to his sermons instead of taking the easy way out to criticize the man’s faith because of his political stance. After all, no man is saved by political stance or being a Republican or Democrat, but by believing in (and subsequently, following after) our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.