Aztecs & Cortes

It Takes More than the Sinner’s Prayer

There’s a little known encounter that took place shortly after Hernando Cortés’ band of soldiers gained victory over the Aztecs in 1519. After subduing Tenochtitlan, the native people began preparing for the festival of Toxcatl, in honor of their harvest god, Tezcatlipoca. When Cortés’ lieutenant, Pedro de Alvarado learned that this festival would climax in an orgy of human sacrifice, he turned to his men and is reported to have said:

“Soldiers of the his most Catholic majesty, hear me! You are about to see the native people kill themselves! They will cut their hearts out! They will sever head from body! They will do this in sacrifice to their pagan god. This has gone on here for centuries, and there is nothing we can do to make it cease. We have been exploring in these parts for many years and we have not succeeded in stopping them. King after king has not succeeded. This will cease only when we win the heart of the people to Christ.”

Actually, no.

When Alvarado got wind human sacrifice was planned, he killed thousands of Aztec priests and by the fall of that year, Cortés ordered the destruction of all Aztec religious symbols. He had a cross erected on the Templo Mayer, that temple of pagan sacrifice, with its idols made of amaranth seeds and human blood. Soon thereafter the death temple was destroyed and a cathedral was built in its place.

These days, when I talk to Christians about the pro-life issue, they sound something like half-strength metrosexual version of Alvarado’s warriors. They look up at the savage abortion temple, dripping with Roe V Wade blood, and they shrug their shoulders and they actually say things like:

  • “abortion will always be with us,” or
  • “it’s simply the law of the land,” or
  • “Republicans don’t really do anything about abortion,” or
  • “we will never stop abortion with our vote.”

I suspect they do this for many reasons.

Some of them are battle weary. They have been fighting for a long time. They have watched Republican presidents play “fair” and refuse to impose a litmus test (unlike their Democratic counterparts), and sometimes that means a pro-abortion justice slips in. They forget that the ONLY pro life justices appointed to the court, since Roe V Wade, have been made by Republicans. Democratic presidents ALWAYS appoint baby-killers; they also forget that this is a crusade that will last for decades. We don’t get a better Supreme Court overnight.

Some of them are frankly tired of the moral high ground the life issue gives anti-abortion activists; there is no issue more important than life, and some of these folks would prefer to vote for an old fashioned collectivist like Bernie Sanders, (or runner up, Hillary Clinton) but there’s that pesky issue of killing babies. If they can make it seem like baby-killing will always be with us, they can go on to the generous-sounding themes of handing out free college educations, forgiving student loans, and pretending jihad doesn’t exist. This is the “Christian as free-shit socialist” worldview. It’s trendy; it’s Mac friendly; it’s green, and if there were only a way to forget the slaughtered babies, we could all pretend it’s the Christian thing to do.



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Most of them, however, simply have bad theology. They assume the world must get worse. The notion of a flawed but triumphant Christian army taking cultural Christianity — and then the real thing — to a hopelessly impoverished pagan world is anathema to them. They have been raised on the 1995 Disney version of Pocahontas and Lion King’s Pride Rock, where goodness and purity reside in the animal kingdom and technical progress represents the enemy. Nationalism, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Flag are no longer seen as expressions of a Christian culture, but idols that have been falsely worshiped by their superficial ancestors. In this world view, the pro-life position is just one of the many causes that can be embraced on equal footing with the war on climate change, bullying, childhood illiteracy, and the glass ceiling. (Female genital mutilation in the middle east is not an approved cause, because it might appear ethnocentric.)

So when you ask them to vote for Trump, on the basis that he is the ONLY candidate who has promised to protect the unborn, they actually accept abortion — the Aztec death temple of our time — as inevitable, an evil that can only be remedied when we’re all singing praise songs in the millennium. You will never end abortion, you are told, until you change hearts — and then they give you a kind of condescending look as though you really don’t understand the power of Christ.

But these well meaning millennials don’t understand that evil is fought on all fronts — personally, culturally, and politically. The sinner’s prayer, by itself, doesn’t make for a better world. If that were the case, Paul would never have had to write his epistles, educating the church. You’ve accepted Jesus, young folks, and that’s great. Now it’s time to study the Bible — and the political history of Western Civilization.

My son Sam is out on different campuses everyday, counseling young college students against abortion. Along with the folks at Created Equal, he shows college students the gruesome pictures of what abortion looks like. It does change hearts. Still other pro-lifers station themselves on the sidewalks of abortuaries, talking young women out of killing their children, and they too save babies every day.

But, truth be told, no one should have to talk a woman out of killing her child anymore than the soldiers of Spain should have had to reason the pagan Aztecs out of sacrificing human life to the harvest god.

We have an obligation, this year, to elect the president most likely make possible extra decisions against Roe V Wade. Hillary Clinton promises to defend that decision. Donald Trump promises to further its repeal and return the abortion decision to the states. Some of you don’t believe him, but please don’t hide behind that disbelief. Don’t hide behind the miserable falsehood that Roe V Wade will not be overturned. If you stay home, or leave the ballot blank, you shore up the temple of death with your pessimism. The battle has to be fought continuously, over a number of years, and sitting out this election will only delay that battle and make the death temple more difficult to destroy. It’s a preposterous cop-out to be promised originalist judges by Trump and then, through your absence, make a Hillary Clinton win possible.

Culturally, we end abortion by making it unthinkable, stigmatizing it, by telling our friends and families that only the most cruel, careless and hateful people in the world provide abortions. We need to begin making abortion providers more distasteful than the people at Westborough Baptist, or sex offenders, or war criminals, or ISIS thugs, who as bad as they are kill far fewer people. We need more movies like Gosnell and more strident condemnation of ‘medical’ holocaust providers. We need to tell our anti-abortion stories around the table at night, and we need to shame those who silence us.

The fight takes place on all fronts, as the true Romans 13 magistrate will tell you. The soldiers of Cortés didn’t just settle for patience and a sinner’s prayer — or a trip to Mexico City would require a lot more personal security.

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