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Leith Anderson (Associated Press/Photo by Jim Mone)

Conflicted

Religion | National Association of Evangelicals' response about promoting contraceptives outside of marriage

I'm moving toward finishing the story partly previewed Thursday (see "The money trail") and scheduled to go to press in the next issue of WORLD on Tuesday. Earlier this week I asked to speak with National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson, but NAE communications director Sarah Kropp asked me to submit questions in writing, so I did.

Here are some factual questions submitted:

  • Over how many years did the $1 million grant to the NAE from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy extend?
  • When do you expect finalization of the agreement for a second grant from The National Campaign to NAE?
  • How much did NAE, as a sponsor of the Q Gathering [held in April in Washington, D.C.], pay Q or its parent, The Relevate Group?
  • How much did NAE pay the Gallup organization in 2010 to conduct a poll of evangelical attitudes? What input did The National Campaign have into the questions that Gallup pollsters asked?
  • How aware are your board members of the first $1 million grant and the ongoing negotiations concerning a second grant?

I also asked some philosophical questions:

  • Should churches advocate contraception for their single twentysomethings?
  • Is the growth of contraceptive use among unmarried individuals in America inevitable?
  • Do you think that promoting contraceptive use by unmarried individuals will reduce the number of abortions in America?
  • How should we interpret today the command, "You shall not commit adultery"?

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And I requested some documents:

  • Could one of your assistants forward to me NAE's application for the 2008 grant from The National Campaign, the NAE's progress reports to The National Campaign, and NAE's application for a new grant?

NAE President Anderson did not answer the specific financial questions, but responded in writing in this way:

"To address abortion among evangelicals, the NAE Generation Forum commissioned research by Gallup and Grey Matter to find out what is happening. Financial assistance for this research, for a staff member and for publication of Theology of Sex, came from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Getting out the information gathered from the research has included some forums among evangelical leaders, reports to each of the semi-annual NAE board meetings, news releases, and videos.

"Because the 2012 Q Conference assembled many younger evangelical leaders, the Generation Forum asked about showing the research results in a motion graphics video and gathering response from attendees. This was included in a short panel with a variety of participants who shared varying opinions about dealing with evangelical sexual behavior and especially with reducing the number of abortions. While the Generation Forum project nears conclusion toward the end of 2012, the evangelical community must not stop advocating for the unborn, facing our own challenges, and calling for biblical righteousness.

"In other countries, many evangelicals have accepted an ABC approach to sexual behavior (A = Abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage; B = Be faithful to your spouse; C = Contraceptives as a means to reduce sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies, and abortions). Many American evangelicals agree with A, B, and C as long as the C is within marriage. Evangelicals are conflicted about contraceptives outside of marriage because we never want to promote or condone sexual immorality. But we are told that contraceptives can reduce abortions and we want to stop abortions.

"In the resolution Abortion 2010, the NAE Board of Directors reiterated its pledge to protect the sanctity of human life and to safeguard its nature, and said, 'The Church is understandably reluctant to recommend contraception for unmarried sexual partners, given that it cannot condone extramarital sex. However, it is even more tragic when unmarried individuals compound one sin by conceiving and then destroying the precious gift of life.'

"Evangelicals must continue to stand against abortion on demand but also face the sexual behavior and abortions in our midst."

I'll be interested to learn how some of you who are reading this parse those remarks (leave comments here or write webeditor@worldmag.com). Meanwhile, I'll continue to work on laying out the facts. Tune in next week.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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