Christian Medical and Dental Association doesn't want abortion to divide Christians...

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Then they themselves also will answer, "Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?" (Matthew 25:44)

(NOTE: CMDA's president, vice-president, and midwest regional director have all responded to the content of this post by attacking the gifts and character of the young dental student whose teaching on abortion CMDA had disciplined—as outlined below. We have now published a follow-up post in which we document CMDA's defense, responding with a careful and detailed demonstration of their attack's errors of fact.)

Walmart has an unimpeachable return policy. Read about it on their national website. It is one of the most generous in the industry, but it's only as good as the implementation at your local Walmart when you try to get a refund. If every Walmart were free to reject returns, the official policy wouldn't be worth the paper it was printed on. This is true of every national organization with local branches. The acid test of a national policy is its local implementation.

This is seen all the time with parachurch ministries. For example, the national office of Inter-Varsity was unwilling to discipline a local chapter that promoted homosexuality. Similarly, although the PCA issued a fevered condemnation of Federal-Vision theology at the national level, she hasn't been able to find any local individual who holds to what she condemned. Men tried for Federal-Vision leanings are always exonerated.

The most recent example is the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA). Officially opposed to abortion since 1985, CMDA punished a man who taught their curriculum and position on abortion in one of their local Bible studies. When their official position against abortion becomes painfully local, they undermine it. They are prophets at a distance, but at home they desire peace.

Case in point: a godly, irenic dental student (let's call him John*) attending a CMDA Bible study was asked to take over teaching the study...

He was instructed to use as his curriculum a book on Daniel called Living In The Lab Without Smelling Like A Cadaver. The book is published by CMDA, targeted to medical students, and has recently been promoted by CMDA on Facebook. When John came to a chapter that spoke of the evil of abortion, John prepared carefully knowing that it would be controversial since students would undoubtedly be in attendance who were not pro-life. Yet he proceeded with confidence because he had read CMDA's official position opposing abortion, his text Living In The Lab Without Smelling Like A Cadaver itself opposed abortion, and the Word of God is abundantly clear in opposing the murder of little babies.

That was the last time John would teach the Bible study. After his lesson on abortion he was informed that he was done teaching and somebody else would take over for him.

In a followup meeting with the student leader of this group we'll call "Fred"*, John was also informed that he would not be considered for any future leadership positions in his student chapter of CMDA. As John probed for the reason for his discipline, at their second meeting Fred finally came to the point: what John had taught was divisive. He said CMDA was seeking to promote unity among all Christians and they feared attendance would suffer if such teaching continued.

When John asked how he had threatened their group's unity, it became clear that it had been the lesson on abortion. John pointed out he was simply teaching the official CMDA position from CMDA's own book which he'd been directed to use, but as president of the chapter Fred was confident in his decision. He stated that he had spoken at length with CMDA's Midwest Regional Director, Allan Harmer, and Allan had advised him: "just because CMDA has a position statement on a certain topic doesn't mean that it is a topic that should be taught in student meetings."

John was surprised. He wrote a letter to Mr. Harmer giving a detailed explanation of what had happened, asking if Mr. Harmer had been misrepresented by John? He stated his concern:

Mr. Harmer, I hope that this hearsay is not true! Certainly, CMDA may have some obscure public position statements that might not be appropriate for medical and dental students. But a topic worthy of Presidents, Senators, and Congressmen, and for which the national office of CMDA has expended so much money, time, and political capital, is worthy of lowly dental students, too.

Mr. Harmer started his response with, "I am not sure I understand what your e-mail is all about." John replied by asking two pointed questions:

1) Is it actually CMDA’s policy to promulgate one position at the national level to Presidents, Senators, and wealthy donors, while promoting censorship of that same position when it comes to our student members at the local level?

Presuming that the answer to this first question is “no,” then comes the next:

2) What is the national office of CMDA going to do to rectify the situation with its chapter at the [school], where CMDA’s published position statement on abortion has been undermined and censored?

Mr. Harmer has left John's questions unanswered. When asked to respond to John's questions, Mr. Harmer's immediate superior, CMDA's Vice President of Campus & Community Ministries Scott Ries, also refused to answer John's questions, instead going on and on about how offensive the questions were to him. How dare John question CMDA's integrity concerning abortion! Their faithfulness in their witness against abortion is "absolutely unquestionable" he said, over and over again.

The question is not whether CMDA has a public position statement condemning abortion. CMDA finally brought itself to condemn abortion under the leadership of my grandfather, Joe Bayly, who was CMDA's Executive Director at the time. Which is to say that CMDA's "official" position is well known to us. We have copies of personal correspondence between C. Everett Koop and my grandfather in which Grandpa Bayly tried to get his dear friend to rejoin Christian Medical Society (now renamed Christian Medical and Dental Association). Just prior to my grandfather's appointment as Executive Director of CMS, Koop had resigned his membership in protest against CMS's refusal to condemn abortion.

Yes, CMDA has an official statement against abortion. Everyone knows that. Yet the question remains, will CMDA gag the teaching of that statement on the local level when its leadership fears the statement's promulgation as a threat to their own "Christian unity?"

When asked whether CMDA would correct the discipline he had counselled his student leader to carry out against the young dental school student, Allan Harmer responded, "There is no indication that the (local chapter of CMDA's) student ministry has advocated any views on abortion except those reflected in CMDA's position statements."

Mr. Harmer sidesteps the question. He's carefully wrong.

No one asked CMDA to correct its staff and leadership for promoting wrong teaching on abortion.

Rather, CMDA was asked to correct its staff and leadership for disciplining right teaching on abortion—that abortion is sin.

Mr. Harmer's careful avoidance of the question is Mr. Harmer's answer to the question. On the local level, CMDA will either commend or rebuke those who teach its position on abortion, solely as it deems best. And pity the poor man or woman who fails to divine which way any particular regional CMDA leader will fall at any particular time with any particular group.

If a dental school student is removed from CMDA leadership, having run afoul of a regional CMDA officer's counsel concerning whether or not to own up to the national CMDA position statement on abortion, and that student appeals his discipline up the chain of authority, both CMDA's regional and national leaders will drone on and on and on about how no one can question their pro-life commitments. Nationally, of course.

Twelve years after abortion was legalized and one year after the world's most eminent pediatric surgeon resigned his membership in CMDA in protest against the refusal of Evangelical doctors to condemn abortion, CMDA finally brought itself to adopt a position statement against abortion. Which is to say, 1973 to 1984 were not CMDA's finest hours.

What led to CMDA's change of heart?

Less than a year earlier, CMDA's Executive Director, my grandfather Joe Bayly, published a column titled "Our Reich of Indifference" in the national magazine for Evangelicals called "Eternity." Let me conclude this post with an excerpt from Grandpa's rebuke of the doctors he then led:

There is a sin of indifference. It is the sin that binds evangelicals as the Lilliputians bound Gulliver... To me, the outstanding example of indifference is in our reaction to the great sin of abortion that is the shame of our nation. Each year, one-and-a-half million humans who bear the image of God are murdered... 

Our Christian physicians will be judged for their indifference. With notable exceptions the United States medical establishment, including Christians, has been silent about our great national sin.

...We blame Christians in Germany during the Third Reich for their indifference to the murder of Jews. "Why were you silent?" we ask.

Some day we will be asked the same question. And a righteous God will not judge the German nation without also judging our nation.

God, forgive our indifference. Make us burn with white heat against injustice, especially the destruction of the weak and totally vulnerable, who bear Your Divine Image.

Twenty-eight years later, over 50,000,000 little babies have now been slaughtered and the slaughter continues at the rate of 1,300,000 per year, all of it carried out by doctors. 

* "John" and "Fred" are not their real names.

We have had extensive communication with CMDA's leadership about this issue, as is evident from the text above. We're not allowing comments under this post, but if CMDA corrects its actions, we will note it here on this page.

UPDATE: CMDA's president, vice-president, and midwest regional director have all responded to the content of this post by attacking the gifts and character of the young dental student whose teaching on abortion CMDA had disciplined—as outlined above. We have now published a follow-up post in which we document CMDA's defense, responding with a careful and detailed demonstration of their attack's errors of fact.)

Joseph and his wife, Heidi, have five children, Tate, Eliza Jane, Moses, Fiona and Annabel. He graduated from Vanderbilt University and Clearnote Pastors College. He is currently planting Christ Church in Cincinnati with several other families.