Governor Gavin Newsom’s inclusion of a Bible verse on two billboards in conservative-run states advertising California as an abortion sanctuary is drawing strong denunciations from right-wing religious leaders.
The Democratic governor, who is expected to easily win another term in November, announced this month that he would use funds from his re-election campaign to buy billboards in seven states that have tightened restrictions on abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. guarantee a national right to abortion: Indiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas.
Mr. Newsom’s billboards in Mississippi and Oklahoma quote the New Testament verse Mark 12:31, with the message: “Need an abortion? California is ready to help.
The use of the Bible verse which in the New International Version reads, “Love your neighbor as yourself. There are no greater commandments than these,” drew the most fire .
Mr. Newsom’s advertising campaign is “evil,” wrote Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League in an email this week.
Linking Jesus’ words to abortion rights condemns Mr. Newsom to “eternal misery”, wrote the pastor of the California megachurch, the Reverend John MacArthur, in an “open letter” published Thursday.
Christopher Check, president of the apologetics website Catholic Answers, called Mr Newsom’s scheme “deadly blasphemy” for “co-opting the Holy Scriptures in the service of abortion”. Mr. Check said he hopes Bishop Jaime Soto of the Diocese of Sacramento “implores Newsom privately and wrestles in prayer with the devil for this man’s soul.”
Anti-abortion advocacy group Live Action tweeted that the billboard with the Bible verse was “shameful”.
The Catholic League, a New York-based lay group, blasted the ads for not being just “bad taste – it’s demonic”. Advertising in other states for women to come to California to have their children killed – in the name of God – is evil.
Mr. MacArthur, pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, called on Mr. Newsom to be prepared for a possible meeting with his creator in his letter to the governor.
“In mid-September, you revealed to the entire nation how rebellious you were to God when you sponsored billboards across America promoting the slaughter of children,” Mr. MacArthur.
Mr. MacArthur, who previously clashed with state and county officials over COVID-related church closure mandates, told the governor “your own soul is in grave and eternal peril.”
Nathan Click, a publicist who Mr Newsom’s office said was the spokesman for the re-election campaign, did not respond to a request for comment.
Politico, however, quoted a statement from Newsom defending the ads at the campaign launch: “The idea that these Republican politicians seek to ‘protect life’ is a total farce. They seek to restrict and control their constituents and take away their freedom.
Mr. Newsom’s billboard in South Dakota, which did not quote the Bible, drew a fiery response from Governor Kristi Noem, a Republican.
“Now that you’ve run your billboards in SD, why don’t you get to work cleaning up the human excrement from the streets of your cities and turning the lights back on?” she wrote on Twitter.