Sacred Sign

September 11, 2014

I find myself driving in downtown Jefferson City, Missouri, a few times a week. Throughout the summer, few others ventured out with me. As I took a regular route near the state Capitol yesterday morning, I suddenly realized the streets were packed with cars sitting at the stoplight and filling all the street parking spots while lots of people - many of them dressed up - walked the streets. Then I remembered: the veto override session. Missouri's state legislators have returned for a couple of days to try and override various vetoes made by Governor Jay Nixon.

The blocks surrounding the Capitol suddenly came back to life. Legislators, lobbyists, and activists roared in today for a whirlwind of debates and votes all day and overnight into today. I turned off my course to drive by the Capitol just to see the action. I'm a politico chaser instead of an ambulance chaser, although there was an ambulance and firetruck parked there with their lights on (which excited my son since he'd like me to be a firetruck chaser whenever he's in the backseat).

On the lawn of the Capitol, a crowd gathered with signs as a speaker belted out demands. Although I just drove by, I quickly realized it was a "pro-choice" rally (and later learned a competing "pro-life" rally also took place). Turns out, abortion was the hot topic at the veto override session and the anti-abortion side won.


As I slowly drove by - and snapped a couple of photos - I noticed one sign that surprised me: "abortion is sacred." It so threw me off that I first read it as "scared" and wondered what was being cast as scary (perhaps dyslexic a bit I am). The protester holding the sign moved into the crowd before I could take a photo, but a local reporter captured a shot (which I was glad to see since I had my doubts about the prescription for my glasses). As I pondered the sign, the rally ended and the group started up the stairs - probably to advocate with legislators.

I consider myself pro-life, but use that label to mean much more than just anti-abortion and often cringe at the hateful rhetoric of some anti-abortion activists. Too often, "pro-choice" activists and legislators are demeaned as being "pro-death" or "pro-abortion" when they might actually be "pro-life" but against forcing other people to make that decision. The sign on the Capitol lawn sent a different message, though one out-of-state protester doesn't speak for everyone there.

I wouldn't have been too surprised if the sign said something about being able to make personal decisions being sacred (though that'd be a big sign). But to call abortion "sacred" is quite different.

Perhaps she wanted to counter "life is sacred" signs sometimes used by anti-abortion protesters. Perhaps she misheard Representative Nancy Pelosi, who when talking about abortion and giving birth made a disjointed comment about "sacred ground" (which a lot of conservative media used to say Pelosi called abortion "sacred ground," though it's not clear in context that was her point). Interestingly, the protester holding the sign told the reporter she's an atheist, so she apparently wasn't using the word "sacred" in a literal sense!

As many protesters do with their political signs, perhaps the protester just wanted to be provocative. Political rally signs or bumper stickers seem like a poor place to discuss theology.

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