By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – Texas pastors across the state are offering blistering rebukes of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s billboard campaign in Texas quoting Jesus to promote abortion.
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, returning the issue to the states, Texas’ Heartbeat bill became law Sept. 1. It bans abortions from being performed after a preborn baby’s heartbeat is detected, with some exceptions. When Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican and Roman Catholic, signed the bill into law, he said, “Our creator endowed us with the right to life. And yet, millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion.” The law “ensures that the life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion.”
Gov. Abbott’s Democratic challenger for governor, Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, has vowed to do everything he can to overturn the heartbeat law, arguing it strips women of their reproductive rights. A group that opposes Gov. Abbott also produced an ad claiming women don’t have access to healthcare in Texas, which critics argue is false.
Gov. Newsom said he launched the billboards in “7 of the most restrictive anti-abortion states that explain how women can access care – no matter where they live. To any woman seeking an abortion in these anti-freedom states: California will defend your right to make decisions about your own health.”
One billboard in Texas reads, “Need an abortion? California is ready to help. Learn more at abortion.ca.gov. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these.’ Mark 12:31.”
Another reads, “Texas doesn’t own your body. You do,” depicting a woman wearing handcuffs.
Cuban American pastor Pastor Lou Veiga, who previously hasn’t publicly spoken about political issues, told The Center Square he’s disturbed by how American culture is rapidly changing and embracing what he says is Marxist-Socialist ideology. This includes attacking Christians and “calling good evil and evil good,” which “necessarily leads to tyranny,” he said.
Born in Havana, Pastor Veiga came to the U.S. legally, became a U.S. citizen, and now leads Covenant Presbyterian Church in Houston. When he heard about Gov. Newsom’s billboards, he told The Center Square he couldn’t remain silent.
“By perverting the plain meaning of God’s Law in Mark 12:31 to justify aborting human life, Governor Newsom very badly represents Jesus’ teaching,” he said. “Newsom substitutes death for life, darkness for light, and bondage for liberty. The Governor’s current abortion ad strategy comes as no surprise: Satan himself quotes Holy Scripture, though in doing so, he never seeks anyone’s advantage other than his own (e.g., Matthew 4:6).”
He adds, “The Word of God has a severe warning to any that would misrepresent God in his will and governance of the nations. Those who twist the meaning of Scripture, calling evil good and good evil, do so to their own destruction (Isaiah 5:20; 2 Peter 3:16). But governors who twist it through deception and resist its life-giving and life-cultivating truth are called out particularly to repent (Psalm 2:10-12).”
Jesus followed his own teachings, Pastor Viega said: “he didn’t spill anyone’s blood, resulting in death. Rather, Jesus shed his own blood for the good of his people.”
Rev. Dave Welch, president of the U.S. Pastor Council, who’s been encouraging Christians to become more involved in politics, told The Center Square, “If I were Gov. Newsom, I would not be so eager to simultaneously advertise that he advocates for the unlimited slaughter of unborn children while also perverting the words of Jesus in the most evil manner possible by calling that offense against God an act of loving our neighbor.”
Pastor Steve Riggle of Grace Woodlands said he was so disturbed by Gov. Newsom’s ads he spoke about them for six minutes on Sunday, and his church produced its own billboard, now up as of Thursday, he told The Center Square.
Pastor Riggle said the commandment Gov. Newsom cites follows the first greatest commandment, “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.”
“You cannot love God with all your heart and murder babies,” he said. “How twisted does your mind have to be to take the word of God and pervert it in this kind of way to promote something that is absolutely an anathema to the heart of God?”
His church’s billboard depicts a newborn baby and says, “Do I matter? God says yes. Abortion says no. Your vote says what you say. Vote for me. Vote for life.”
Pastor Riggle is calling on other churches and groups to put up their own billboards.
“Just remember who picked this fight,” he said. “If you want to pick this fight we’re glad to finish it.”