Christians took to social media en masse when news broke July 14 that Planned Parenthood allegedly sold baby parts gained through partial birth abortions.
The hashtag #PlannedParenthood trended in the top three nationally July 14, social media expert Marty Duren said, with the online analytics site Topsy.com noting more than 57,000 tweets using the hashtag between Tuesday morning and midday Wednesday. That total does not include tweets on the same subject that did not employ the hashtag.
Response to the Planned Parenthood news “was all over my Facebook feed all day,” said Duren, manager of social media strategy for LifeWay Christian Resources. “… It covered up Twitter.”
The social media dustup was provoked by a video released by the nonprofit medical watchdog group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) showing a Planned Parenthood Federation of America executive discussing the fetal parts business with an undercover investigator posing as a potential buyer. Planned Parenthood claimed they donate the body parts for scientific purposes and do not receive monetary benefit, but CMP countered by publishing an advertisement delivered to Planned Parenthood abortion clinics by a biomedical company stating that supplying tissue is “financially profitable.”
Duren said he did not see any Christian posts in social media defending Planned Parenthood.
“This was very unified,” Duren said. There was “an amount of anger or outrage” associated with “virtually every single comment, every single tweet.”
Among the most active participants in the social media response was Russell Moore, president of Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). He tweeted on the topic more than 25 times in 32 hours. In one day, a commentary he wrote condemning Planned Parenthood’s actions was shared 22,000 times on Facebook and 4,000 times on Twitter, according to the ERLC.
One of Moore’s Facebook posts was blocked for several hours, with Facebook displaying a message stating the post “include[d] content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive.” ERLC spokesman Daniel Darling said, “Thankfully, Facebook admitted the error and responded back to Dr. Moore through … one of their top executives.”
Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research, received 1,300 retweets in 16 hours when he tweeted, “Sadly, if Planned Parenthood @PPact was selling the body parts of puppies, not aborted babies, the mainstream media would actually cover it.”
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Denny Burk tweeted more than 30 times related to Planned Parenthood, sharing statements on the controversy from Republican presidential candidates and telling major media outlets, “The Iran deal is not the top story today. This is.”
At least six Southern Baptist Convention entity heads tweeted about Planned Parenthood. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Daniel Akin commented, “Killing babies for profit in America. Read this and weep.”
Among pastors, Bart Barber of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas, tweeted that Planned Parenthood “finally found a use for prenatal ultrasound that they don’t oppose.”
Bryant Wright, pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., tweeted, “It’s like Nazis on how to profit from body parts of Jews. Evil.” Mac Brunson, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., tweeted, “This is beyond belief.”
Clint Pressley, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C., tweeted a link to Moore’s commentary with the note “stop and read.” J.D. Greear, pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., retweeted the statement, “It should bother us as a society that we have a use for aborted human organs, but not the baby that provides them.”
Among the broader evangelical community, pastor and author John Piper called via Twitter for Christians to pray and fast about abortion July 15. Author and cultural commentator Eric Metaxas tweeted, “Your children and grandchildren will ask you: When the Planned Parenthood video came out, did you do anything about it?”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – David Roach is chief national correspondent for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)