Shuck and Jive

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Why I Support the PCUSA Washington Office

The Presbyterian Layman and the IRD would have you believe that the Washington Office is made up of a bunch of cigar smoking Fidel Castro lookalikes making statements reflecting the will of the PCUSA without any regard to what the PCUSA advocates. That's the well-funded right-wing for you. Nothing is further from the truth. Here is the PCUSA Washington Office's website. You can learn more about the Washington Office here.

The Presbyterian Washington Office is the public policy information and advocacy office of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Its task is to advocate, and help the church to advocate, the social witness perspectives and policies of the Presbyterian General Assembly. Read More
The Washington Office has been around since 1946. They do not speak on behalf of right wing groups or of left wing groups in our denomination, but on behalf of the General Assembly. The General Assembly meets once every two years and is made up of delegates from every presbytery. Check out what they are saying on behalf of the PCUSA. It is good and important work.


  1. I met some of the Washington Office folks when I interned at the GA. I can honestly say that they aren't a bunch of cigar smoking Castro lookalikes. For example, only the women have beards.

    Humor aside, I do think they advocate for abortion funding in ways that are contrary to the expressed consensus of the presbyteries through the GA. Others have provided extensive analysis of that, so there's little use of me repeating them. I will note that neither RCRC or PARO affirm the GA's received documents on limiting abortion as an elective birth control method (which even the Guttmacher Institute claims as 98% of the incidence of abortion).

  2. Chris, the Washington Office's current agenda includes advocacy for the following:

    Health care for the most vulnerable

    Immigration, with an emphasis in the issue of African migration

    US Trade Policy


    These "extreme" positions may reflect the views of the GA in particular and most Presbyterians broadly, but it is certainly contrary to the interests of those funding the Layman, as John implied.

  3. Flycandler,

    Somehow you missed the June 25th edition of Presbyterian Washington Weekly where the Washington Office urged members of the PCUSA to support HR 2596's unfettered access to abortifacient megadoses of hormones (otherwise known as Plan B).

    A week prior to that (June 18th), I was asked to support the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007. That would make me - a taxpayer - responsible for the destruction of human life for research purposes.

    The April 23rd edition gave more sabre rattling and fearmongering over the SCOTUS decision declaring constitutionally allowable limits on partial birth abortions. Our GA has spoken quite clearly about the moral danger of this procedure (and our there is plenty of medical testimony against its necessity or safety). Nevertheless, anything that could infringe on a woman's "right" to force taxpayers to pay a malicious medico to deliver all but the head of the baby, jam scissors into its skull, and vacuum its brains out must be met with resistance according to the Washington Office.

    It continues to amaze me that most of their advocacy is for causes aligned with the Democrats when over half of members and elders in the PCUSA identify as Republicans and less than 30% as Democrats! (PDF proof here) There's a lot of work that the Washington Office could focus on - things that Presbyterians across the spectrum agree on and would support - if they would give up their unmitigated support for limitless abortion access.

  4. I am quite frankly tired of having to argue over abortion. Chris, I got great news for you: I am a gay man, and I promise I will never get an abortion nor put someone in a position where they would feel the need to get one.

    The Washington Office is good about avoiding partisanship. The problem is that the Republican party has taken active stands against children's health insurance, environmental stewardship, fair trade, labor rights, peace, and other issues that the PC(USA) legitimately as a religious body has an interest in. It's not that the Washington office always followed the Democratic party around on S-CHIP, it's that George W. Bush made a complete 180° after running in 2000 on the success of Texas' S-CHIP program.

    And let's get some facts straight (har har):

    -The "morning after pill" is not an abortifacient. It simply elevates normal hormone levels to prevent implantation in the wall of the uterus, so the egg simply gets flushed out with the menstrual tide. This is in fact the natural fate of a majority of fertilized eggs. Should we hold candlelight vigils outside the Tampax headquarters? This drug is merely a higher strength birth control pill that many women take (and often for reasons unrelated to contraception). Do you object to the pill being legal? If so, I congratulate you on an almost papish consistency. The Morning After Pill has a very important application: it can be given to women who have been raped.

    -Stem cell research involves opening up blastocysts, balls of about 70 undifferentiated cells that have yet to implant in the uterus. Again, many of these fail to adhere to the uterine wall and simply get flushed out with the woman's next period. Most blastocysts considered for research (on the order of hundreds of thousands) are already existing and in freezers at in-vitro fertilization clinics. They will have to be destroyed after a certain period of time anyway. The promise of embryonic stem cell research is tremendous, and can be used to save thousands if not millions of lives, possibly curing such diseases as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, forms of cancer, paralysis, etc. Are we as a church to ignore the suffering of actual, living human beings in order to give a bunch of frozen blastocysts a couple more months in the freezer before they get thrown in the trash?

    And frankly, our federal tax dollars do in fact pay for the destruction of human life. Read up on the Federal Correctional Complex at Terre Haute.

    Here's a gut check scenario for you. You're walking down the street past an in-vitro fertilization clinic that is on fire. You see a freezer with 1,000 blastocysts and a live baby in a car seat. You have time to rescue one. Which one do you take?

    -The late term abortion "debate" is very wrongheaded in this country, IMO. Yes, a late term dilation & extraction (the actual medical term) is not a pleasant procedure to watch (neither is open heart surgery). Roe allows states to prohibit third-trimester abortions except where necessary to save the life or health of the mother, or if the fetus has a severe birth defect that means it will have a brief, painful life. A woman eight months pregnant doesn't just walk past a Planned Parenthood, snap her fingers and say, "gosh, I knew there was something I was meaning to do!" She does it because she HAS to. No doctor will perform a third-trimester abortion for mere convenience's sake. This is a red herring issue designed by the far right to get the base worked up over a very rare medical procedure.

    Incidentally, I would love to see more recent political affiliation stats. The ones you bring up are from quite a ways before the Pelosi Revolution. Mere statistics say that the percentage of members identifying themselves as Republicans has dropped.