Rock Music and Abortion

(March 7, 1999)

Subject: Rock music
Date: Fri, 5 Mar 1999 00:50:16 -0500
From: J M S

I have a very difficult question about rock music. Being like many young adults living in the '90's, I like rock music and have my favorite bands. But in a few recent news stories, I keep hearing about "Rock for Choice" which is an organization that features rock bands that donate music or concerts in support of abortion. I was startled at how many of my favorte rock bands did this. Is it immoral for me to buy their music, even though my intention is to enjoy the music itself and not support abortion? I worked out the moral object, intention, and circumstances formula and come up with: m.o. = buying music of bands that I know support abortion, intention = to not support abortion, but enjoy their music, circumstances = I, like many 20-somethings, enjoy rock music. HELP! Am I correct???


Dear J M S

Thank you for your letter and your confidence in asking me this question. It made me reflect on how much what the pope calls the Culture of Death has advanced in our society. It is hard for any of us not to be implicated in it. When we pay our taxes, part goes to finance abortions. Even tho it is a very tiny percentage, still it forces us to support something which deeply violates our conscience--the taking of an innocent human life.

As you bring out, when we make certain purchases that also happens. Of course we have a lot more choice over what we buy than paying our taxes. But what a sacrifice it would be to give up music you enjoy so much! One thought which come to my mind, since we are in the time of Lent, is to make such a sacrifice and let the bands somehow know. Our goal should always be to work for the conversion of others. I assume there is nothing in their music which in itself which is explicitly pro-abortion. Or am I mistaken?

Also I would encourage you to read the U.S. Bishops' statement on Living the Gospel of Life. Here is a section from it. It does not directly answer your question, but it gives some good principles for doing so:

24. Since the entry of Catholics into the U.S. political mainstream, believers have struggled to balance their faith with the perceived demands of democratic pluralism. As a result, some Catholic elected officials have adopted the argument that, while they personally oppose evils like abortion, they cannot force their religious views onto the wider society. This is seriously mistaken on several key counts. First, regarding abortion, the point when human life begins is not a religious belief but a scientific fact -- a fact on which there is clear agreement even among leading abortion advocates. Second, the sanctity of human life is not merely Catholic doctrine but part of humanity's global ethical heritage, and our nation's founding principle. Finally, democracy is not served by silence. Most Americans would recognize the contradiction in the statement, "While I am personally opposed to slavery or racism or sexism I cannot force my personal view on the rest of society." Real pluralism depends on people of conviction struggling vigorously to advance their beliefs by every ethical and legal means at their disposal.

25.Today, Catholics risk cooperating in a false pluralism. Secular society will allow believers to have whatever moral convictions they please -- as long as they keep them on the private preserves of their consciences, in their homes and churches, and out of the public arena. Democracy is not a substitute for morality, nor a panacea for immorality. Its value stands -- or falls -- with the values which it embodies and promotes. Only tireless promotion of the truth about the human person can infuse democracy with the right values. This is what Jesus meant when He asked us to be leaven in society. American Catholics have long sought to assimilate into U.S. cultural life. But in assimilating, we have too often been digested. We have been changed by our culture too much, and we have changed it not enough. If we are leaven, we must bring to our culture the whole Gospel, which is a Gospel of life and joy. That is our vocation as believers. And there is no better place to start than promoting the beauty and sanctity of human life. Those who would claim to promote the cause of life through violence or the threat of violence contradict this Gospel at its core.

26.Scripture calls us to "be doers of the word and not hearers only . . . [for] faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead" (Jas 1:22, 2:17)

My prayers. God bless,

Fr. Phil Bloom