E-pistle July 1

The Pursuit of Happiness and the Banning of Babies

It’s one of those slow news day stories.  Malaysian Airlines recently reaffirmed its policy of banning babies from its first class cabins and some intrepid reporter tried to create a controversy by telling the story. Turns out, though, that there’s little controversy.  The L.A. Times was one of several news sites to conduct one of those unofficial polls, and about 80% of us agree with the Malaysian Airlines policy.

I have no problem with the baby ban.  It applies to first class cabins only, and the only Malaysia Airline planes with first class cabins are their 747s and A-380s.  I went to the Malaysian Airline site and checked the price of tickets for a round trip first class flight from Kuala Lumpur to London the first week of August. $9635. In case you are wondering, that’s about $400 hour each way. So, if I were paying $400 an hour to sit in an airplane, I’d think it was okay to keep the screaming kids in the back of the plane.  Too bad for you flying coach.

Even if you don’t fly first class all the time, you probably have a story to tell about a baby in a movie theater or nice restaurant whose presence you wish had been banned.

But the baby ban headlines point to another reality in our culture. Our world is a world with very mixed emotions about babies and too many corners of our world are not safe for babies.  We’re not just banning them from first class; we’re banning them from life, banning them from anything that might resemble a pursuit of happiness.

From Al Gore’s recent Orwellian comment about “fertility management” to what The Economist calls “gendercide” (the millions of baby girls aborted in China and parts of India – and, of course, our own defend-at-all-costs abortion industry), we’re banning babies from the possibility of life and, therefore, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

From the radical free trade policies of the world economy that exports jobs and dignity to “offshore locations,” to lousy urban schools; from the narcissistic absurdity that is today’s gay marriage movement to the American church’s full embrace of no-fault divorce 30 years ago, we’ve banned too many babies and the children they become from even a small share of the abundance we enjoy and insist is an entitlement to which we have right.

I love celebrating Independence Day and the amazing things that happened just 22 miles south of us on July 4, 1776.  We all know, however, that there is a stain on the Declaration of Independence that will never be fully erased. When the Declaration with its insistence that all men are created equal was signed, 20% of the new nation’s population was considered property to be bought and sold. The lives of the African slaves had no inalienable rights attached to them. The church’s ear had grown deaf to the liberating truth that “in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ.” (Galatians 3:28)

As we celebrate Independence Day 2011, 22% of all pregnancies in the United States end with an induced abortion (Guttmacher Institute).  18% of our children live in poverty (National Center for Children in Poverty). In the city where the Declaration of Independence was signed, about 25% of our children are “below basic” in reading and math skills, that is, they can’t read and they can’t do simple arithmetic (Philadelphia Inquirer). Has the church’s ear grown deaf to the call of the master, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God”? (Luke 18:15-17).

I guess I am still for banning the babies from first class.  But from life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Please, no.