Letter to the editor: To the Edmonds City Council regarding abortion resolution

An open letter to Edmonds City Councilmembers:

This morning I had a conversation with my wife about why I have been so concerned about the Edmonds City Council making a resolution regarding abortion. On the one hand, the resolution is largely symbolic and we can easily move on with our lives as usual. But I came to realize this is not really true. The resolution has profound significance. It is different than any previous resolution passed by the council. The vast majority of the people of Edmonds want it to be a “Safe City” and while we may differ on what “gun control” means we are all against “gun violence.”

Thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Edmonds residents are pro-life. Their beliefs are as deeply held as those who are advocating for “bodily autonomy” as a greater value than the life of unborn children. We, who are pro-life, did not elect you to office to vote your personal political perspective on this issue. We elected you to work with us for the flourishing of Edmonds in cooperation with people of good will who happen to be pro-choice or pro-life.

While I am hesitant to share publicly, our relatively young congregation has over the past 10 years given more than $400,000 to humanitarian causes in our community and beyond. Last year we gave $50,000 to the Foundation for Edmonds School District for an emergency fund for students and families impacted by the pandemic who were unable to get immediate help for items not covered by other grants, such as car repair. We recently raised $50,000 for Ukrainian refugees. We are sponsoring two Afghan families through World Relief. Perhaps more importantly, when we surveyed our congregation regarding their work in the community we found that our folks were serving 105 helping organizations.

My point is that we are your allies in making Edmonds a better community for all, AND we are pro-life. While I am not optimistic about changing your views on abortion in the short term, I wonder if I can ask if this is really how you want to treat your partners in service? Why would you willfully and unnecessarily create division in our community? We already know that we disagree on this issue and we work together as people of good will in spite of it. You are fundamentally changing that calculus by using the city council as a platform to present your personal views thereby disrespecting your fellow citizens who are your partners in working for the common good.

I would like to suggest an alternative approach. When this resolution comes up in the council meeting, please share your perspective on this important issue. You can signal to all where you stand. But then please vote, “No,” on the actual resolution in order to avoid one more step in the creation of division in an already divided community. Stoking the flames of discord must stop if we are to build a quality life together.

Barry Crane, Pastor
North Sound Church, Edmonds


  1. If your religious and personal beliefs lead you to be “anti choice”, which is a far better descriptor than “pro-life”., then by all means do not have an abortion. That is your choice. And we all respect that.

    Last week 168 million American women abruptly lost a Constitutional right that they had relied on for fifty years. The contract with their country’s legal and judicial entities was broken, revoked by a right-wing, religious Supreme Court packed with second rate jurists. Their message to American women: “We don’t care about you, we don’t trust you to make choices for yourself, and if you make choices we do not approve of, we will punish you”.

    It is, for me, completely understandable that the City Council take a stand and make a statement regarding the grief, the betrayal, the fear, and the anger that this edict has caused. And I support the resolution one hundred percent.

    As a Pastor I imagine you have had some experience counseling members of your own congregation regarding matters of grief, loss, and trauma. Perhaps you can summon some of the listening skills and compassion you have used in those situations and apply them here.

    It is not the role of religious communities and leaders to make laws for the rest of us. America is not a Christian nation. It is a nation with Christians in it, and a LOT of other folks as well. We are all taught about the “separation of Church and State”. It was codified so that people, such as yourself, would be allowed to practice your religion free from interference and harassment from others. Conversely, we have freedom FROM religion, that allows non-religious, non-observant people, such as myself, to not have other people’s values imposed on us.

    I appreciate the work that your congregation does in the community, but those good works do not give your church a platform to sway public policy.

    1. Thank you! I am one of the many thousands, if not 10’s of thousands that agree with you. (BTW, only about 40+thousand people in Edmonds) my belief system does not mirror the original opinion. My belief system recognizes a women’s right to bodily autonomy. Her body, her rules.
      I hope the ECC embraces this!

    2. Thank you Ed Lorah for your clear, unbiased response to the open letter.

      Perhaps we also need to be reminded beyond the fact of separation of church and state, that the early non-native, white settlers came to this country in large part to escape religious persecution, to have freedom to choose. And as Ed Lorah stated, there are many religions practiced in this country and not all hold the same beliefs when it comes to unborn children.

      We all have the right to believe what we choose in these matters and in my opinion it is not the right of others, be they church leaders or Supreme Court Judges, to impose and worse, enforce their beliefs on others. Particularly when, as in this case and based on history, it leads to tragic circumstances. For me, this judgement by SCOTUS belies the espoused values of the country, “the land of the free.” Women have been dealt a horrendous blow that strips them of their former freedom of rights to choose.

    3. Thank you, Ed. Perfectly stated. It is sad to see a faith leader in our community with zero grasp (or compassion) for the horror and devastation that the loss of Roe will bring to millions of girls and women across our nation. Good works for not excuse harmful beliefs.

    4. Thank you for your comment, I agree with you 100 percent. There is no place in our society for these people who think they can make decisions for the rest of us that don’t involve their input at all. We are not all christian and will not live our lives with their values. We aren’t going backwards either. Thank you Edmonds city council for representing all of us and not the minority.

      1. Time to close the comments now after many viewpoints have been expressed.

  2. Having an abortion is not in the Constitution, you are misinformed. After the Supreme Court ruling it will go back to the states to determine what each state wants. The misinformation being printed is alarming; how are people so ignorant of what the Constitution actually says? Our schools need mandatory Civics Classes to teach the Constitution.

    1. You are wrong and the ignorant one. It was recognized under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

      1. Perhaps “your” interpretation of the 14th Amendment says that to you; however our Supreme Court has ruled otherwise. There is nothing in our constitution that supports your “right” to an abortion. Our Supreme Court knows the constitution, you apparently do not.

  3. Thank you Pastor Crane for your well stated letter. We have enough division in our lives. All the Supreme Court did was put this choice back in the hands of the individual states for their citizens to decide. Our City Council has no business making such a resolution. Our representatives need to stop pushing division and their choices upon others to accept.

    1. They put this decision back in the hands of the states with FULL knowledge of the planned egregious laws and punishments proposed for women (but with zero responsibility aimed at the second party involved in any pregnancy). Those laws alone should have given pause to the Court in my opinion.

  4. Very well said Ed Lorah. Thanks for sharing that perspective. Birth control is not 100% effective and the majority of women who seek abortions already have children (60% per CDC). If Christians who were anti-choice or pro-birth would put a fraction of their energy lobbying for paid family leave, paid child care and housing support, it would be much easier to understand and support their perspective.

  5. Thank you Pastor Barry Crane for a well thought out and respectful letter. You clearly state what many believe.
    I accept that others are “pro-abortion” and I respect their right to their opinion; why is it that is a one-way street?
    As reflected above, that includes attempting to discredit one of our oldest institutions in the US, which seems to be a current trend of those that do not agree with the decision, including the President.
    I once considered myself “pro-choice” but the party moved the needle when they wanted that abortion at any stage during pregnancy, up to hours after birth. No- that in my book is murder. So I no longer support the movement. The issue is far more nuanced and complex.
    The Supreme Court opinion did not outlaw abortion, it returned the abortion issue to the states. There will be no change in many states, including Washington.
    This resolution is far beyond the parameters of what effects the day-to-day lives of Edmonds residents (e.g., Code revisions, public safety, sidewalks, etc). The City Council was not elected to pontificate on national issues. What next–A proclamation on Foreign Policy? Please vote No on this resolution.

  6. Pastor Barry, that was one of the best written letters I have ever read. You are absolutely right, and well thought out. Our church too gives incredible amounts of money to Edmonds causes and homeless. We also volunteer in Edmonds schools, food banks, emergency funds, I could go on and on. I am Pro-life for the mother and the baby.

  7. If this means we get to finally define what life is and when it begins, that’s great. How can it be viewed otherwise? And I reject the notion that only humanists, atheists and naturalists are allowed to participate. Haven’t we seen enough censorship the last 2-1/2 years? All forms of abortion are up for discussion, finally.

  8. To address your comment, “We, who are pro-life, did not elect you to office to vote your personal political perspective on this issue.”
    I did. And so did many others.
    Further, you enjoy a tax exempt status, the idea being that you stay out of politics.
    To this: “While I am not optimistic about changing your views on abortion in the short term, I wonder if I can ask if this is really how you want to treat your partners in service?”
    No one has done anything to the “partners” and is charity only to be done when things aren’t tough?

    And finally: “Why would you willfully and unnecessarily create division in our community?”
    It sounds like the division was already there, this just brought it to the surface. You came here in 2003(?), you should have known this community better. The Edmonds Council is not out of touch or out of line, you are. There’s almost a veiled threat, a foot stomping tantrum, implying you’ll take your money and go elsewhere. Please do.

    1. Mr Willingham, Pastor Barry has a right to his opinion, it does not matter when he came here, and he made no “foot stomping” threats, veiled or otherwise. You certainly can disagree with his opinion but it seems you are the one having a “tantrum” , with untrue and rude replies. You add nothing of value to the discussion.

      1. The pastor, and all pastors, priests, nuns and clergy can vote as a way of expressing their virtues and preferences like the rest of us. Plus they can provide gospel and other types of narratives to their spiritual community. When they speak from a position of authority, while they also enjoy a non-profit status due to their declarations of a religion entity, it’s not so simple. Broad, open attempts to persuade political outcomes based on their religious and public persona and beliefs can be ignored like any other random opinion.

  9. My take on this is that there are two different things at issue here. The first is the Court decision itself and the second is the appropriateness of making the decision a function of OFFICIAL Edmonds city government. In regards to the issue itself I don’t particularly want Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Jay Inslee , and Clarence Thomas conferring with my doctor about what I should or shouldn’t do in regards to my personal health and I suspect all women feel the same way about that whether pro life or pro choice.

    In regards to the second issue, we are years behind in things we need to be doing to make our city government work properly for all and we are OFFICIALLY talking about these two issues? The whole thing is a disgrace in my opinion, both the decision and Edmonds addressing it on anything but an individual level. There are approx. 42000 opinions about this in our town and in no way can our City Council fairly be a representative to all of them. This whole thing is just nuts.

  10. I appreciate Ed Lorah’s thoughtful response. I am greatly concerned about religious organizations working to impose their particular view on everyone outside their congregation. There are thousands of thoughtful and morally responsible people who recognize that with abortion there is no simple line that you can draw for every woman’s situation. These thoughtful people are exercising humility in recognizing that the world is just not as simple as the anti-choice perspective pretends that it is. Rather the anti-choice movement wishes to impose a simple one-size-fits-all “solution” to a complicated continuum of situations (whether that choice is removed by individual states or the federal government makes no difference), and untold tragedy will follow when harsh inflexible mandates are imposed on women. The government is simply not best suited to make that decision for every individual case. I trust women to thoughtfully make that choice in consultation with their health professionals and/or religious advisors. I appreciate the humility in those that are pro-choice. If your religion tells you not to have an abortion, they will support you in that choice, just as they will trust thousands of women who thoughtfully make a different choice.

  11. Such a great letter, Pastor Barry. Thank you so much. We can disagree with others but the division this can cause is unnecessary and the council should abandon voting on this. Let’s keep Edmonds safe and respectful for all.

  12. Good letter. I’m pro-choice, but I just don’t think that these kinds of resolutions are good local governance. They’re certainly partisan. They don’t unite the community. On this issue, considering each other side, is a challenge, especially those who don’t have a certain minimum amount of mental agility. I wonder if some of these pro resolution people have ever heard the saying “if the shoe was on the other foot”.

  13. Not only is it terribly sad that so many citizens do not understand what is and is not in the constitution or the roles of the three branches of the federal government, it is also sad that they do not know what the federal government, state governments, city and county governments are in place to do and not to do.

    Worse, the elected officials do not understand these things either!

    Edmonds city council members can’t even do their own research and critical thinking and instead rely on parotting Seattle City Council. Awesome, that’s just what we want here in Edmonds.

    Please see link:


  14. Religious, tax exempt, entities can chime right in on social matters. Endorsing candidates or parties is another matter. We desperately need Schoolhouse Rocks again. Or maybe the Kardashians can make some public service announcements? The discussion that should have happened in ‘73 is inevitable and 50 years overdue.

  15. Barry said it well, we need to work for the common good. Clint points out council needs to represent 42000 of us. Resolutions are handy tools for a local govt. Hopefully the goal would be to create resolutions that are not 4/3 but ones that are 7/0 to help council show what they collectively want to accomplish.

    What if the current resolution simply said we support the laws of the State of Washington relating to abortion? How would the council vote and what would be the opinions of our citizens? Hopefully better than what this thread shows.

    Resolution topics that may divide us: Roe v Wade, Gun Control, Zoning change to reduce single family housing.
    Resolutions topics that may unite us: More sidewalks, pave more streets per year and the funding to support them.

    Lots of interesting points above but frankly much of what has been said is what is always said. Much of it is the same stuff over and over.

    Maybe it is time to unite the public on some ideas and issues instead of dividing us. That is one of Barry’s key points.

  16. First: There is no rational argument for making abortion illegal.
    Second: There is no rational argument for the City Council of Edmonds to make any statement whatsoever regarding abortion laws of the State of Washington or the United States.
    The only reason they would do such a thing is known as “virtue signalling” – demonstrating to a specific group that they are part of the same tribe.
    This is morally wrong on the part of those in the Council who proposed the resolution and those who voted for it. They have demonstrated to the people of Edmonds that they care only about those who think like them, and the rest are out of luck.
    This is not what a City Councilmember should do. The City Council is supposed to represent the interests of ALL of the people of the city, not just the ones they like.

  17. You are quoted as saying ‘the life of unborn children’.

    I’m confused because the IRS won’t let me claim an unborn as a dependent. According to the IRS, the requirement under subsection (h)(7) that the child be issued a SSN before the due date of tax filing additionally applies. In effect, only children born alive and issued SSNs between January 1 and April 15 (or October 15, if extended) can be claimed as unborn children for the tax year prior to birth.

    So how does the Federal government view it that way? Science. Facts.

    What I’m reading is that I cannot get Life insurance either for the fetus. The Underwriters don’t have any interest in insuring something that doesn’t have a identity, SSN, or birthdate or a pulse.

    Speaking as a agent of a religious organization about politics is derelict on your part. You have no say on politics, thankfully due to the Constitution. Keep your relationship with religion in your home and church.

  18. I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Crane when he states “We, who are pro-life, did not elect this Council to office to vote your personal political perspective on this issue. We elected you to work with us for the flourishing of Edmonds in cooperation with people of good will who happen to be pro-choice or pro-life.”

    I too hear very little about our “obligations” as free citizens lately, only “rights”. Surely both sides can rediscover that we do not have completely unrestricted freedoms but rather we as people and as a community have obligations too. Scientifically we know “life” starts before birth. We don’t know if it’s 30 weeks after gestation, 24 weeks, or at the moment of conception. Since we do not know, why is caution not our collective approach? Forced, signed mandates such as this resolution is McCarthyism. Is that the objective of this council resolution? Who must sign next?

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