Tennessee Baptist Mission Board president addresses Senate Study Committee about pro-life legislation

August 21, 2019

It was a shocking scene. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo stood at the podium defiantly poking his finger toward his audience; the audience responding with enthusiastic cheers. He had just signed into law one of the most comprehensive pro-abortion bills in our nation’s history. I thought, “God help us. That man has just signed the death sentence of thousands upon thousands of children.” I’ll never forget the disbelief, devastation, and disgust I felt in that moment.

How have we sunken so low, and devalued life so much, that we rise to our feet and enthusiastically celebrate the murder of unborn children, many of whom under normal circumstances would be minutes away from the final journey into the waiting arms of their mothers?

I am Randy Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, and I never want to see that moment from New York repeated. I certainly never want to see it repeated in Tennessee.

Esteemed Senators, I believe what happened in New York awoke a sleeping giant. Life-loving Tennesseans, including nearly a million Tennessee Baptists, have just begun to rally for life. I stand before you today representing those Tennessee Baptists. We want you to know that we stand for life.

Just three weeks ago the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board launched a petition initiative called,“I Stand for Life.” Through that, thousands of Tennessee Baptists—and almost a thousand pastors to date—have indicated their support for legislation protecting Tennessee’s most vulnerable citizens. I believe the bill before you today does just that, and on behalf of those million Tennessee Baptists living in your voting districts and scattered from Memphis to Mountain City, and from Dyersburg to Ducktown, I encourage you to move this bill forward to the next legislative session for approval and then to Gov. Lee for signing into law.

As the chosen stewards of the great state of Tennessee, I encourage you to send a clear and convictional message to the people you represent, that you, too, stand for life in Tennessee.

The Bible testifies in its entirety that God is life’s ultimate and defining authority.

Bills like this are gravely significant because they come down to two fundamental issues: Life, and our collective responsibility to protect it. The degree to which we as a people value life—all life—determines the strength of the society in which we live.

Unfortunately, Roe v. Wade was the fulcrum upon which our society tipped toward becoming a culture of death. Let’s be honest, abortion is largely a violent form of birth control. Tennessee Baptists support the passage of the proposed legislation because it rightly acknowledges and protects life from conception. This fact is self-evident and finds its origins exclusively in the hands of God the Creator.

The Bible testifies in its entirety that God is life’s ultimate and defining authority. Abortionists argue laws protecting unborn babies encroach on a woman’s right to choose. However, that argument exposes a strident desire to take the giving of life from God’s hand. For mankind to claim authority in determining when life begins and when it ends is the pinnacle of arrogance. The trend to redefine an unborn child in ambiguous and impersonal language only exposes the absurdity of our arrogance.

Arguments for abortion are shallow and require a denial of the facts. Evolutionists through the years have referenced science to support the idea that humanity was created some way—any way—other than by God. They’ve manipulated science to deny God and devalue life. The argument is that if we don’t acknowledge the unborn as a child, it is, therefore, not a child. To pervert Descartes, the argument is, “I think, therefore it is not.” Isn’t it ironic, then, that the more refined science and technology become, the more the two expose such contradictions and affirm the Bible’s declaration: Life begins at conception and conception results in a child.

Honorable Senators, for too long lawmakers have been more determined to pass laws that protect unborn animals rather than in passing laws that protect unborn children. In our misguided passion for self-autonomy, we have lost the perspective of common sense. We are culturally adrift in a sea of relativism and are in desperate need of an anchor. Cultural stability begins when we recapture the value of life.

However, if we continue to devalue life, where does it end? At what point are children with birth defects judged of no value and are terminated? At what point are the elderly judged of no value and are terminated? Or what about ethnic groups? History reveals that genocide has been the fate for groups deemed to be of no value. What you decide here and in the future about this bill does not just affect unborn children. It has far-reaching consequences that define what Tennesseans collectively say about the value of all life, now and in the future.

Senators, I appeal to you. Do not be bullied by the threats of economic boycott. As our leaders, you have a great moral responsibility before God and the people of Tennessee. You stand at the threshold of a most historic moment. A question facing you today is, “What will you do with what you  know?” History beckons you forward and your legacy as a public servant is waiting to be written. How will posterity remember you: As stateswomen and statesmen who stood for life and turned back the murderous tide of abortion, or as someone who traded lives for economic development?

Ladies and gentleman, I stand with Tennessee Baptists and together we proudly stand for life. With all sincerity, I pray that you, too, will stand for life, which is why I strongly encourage you to move this bill forward to become law.

Send a clear message to all people everywhere that together, Tennesseans stand for life.

And on behalf of Tennessee Baptists, thank you for allowing me to address you this afternoon, and more importantly, I want to express my sincere appreciation for your service to Tennessee.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared here. It is the full text of Tennessee Baptist Mission Board President and Executive Director Randy C. Davis’ statement to the Senate Study Committee delivered in support of pro-life legislation proposed in SB 1236. Full news coverage of Davis’ appearance before the committee can be found here, and the audio podcast of his testimony can be found here.

Randy C. Davis

Dr. Randy C. Davis became the executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board in 2010 (formerly Executive Board of the Tennessee Baptist Convention) after 34 years of pastoral ministry, serving churches in Mississippi and Tennessee. Davis and wife, Jeanne, have two adult daughters, Wendy and Beth, and four grandchildren. Read More by this Author