Can ‘Unborn Babies’ Worship God?

Unborn baby
Unborn baby/Getty images Prapass Pulsub

“Did you know the unborn can worship?” is a question one North Texas man has been asking a lot of people these days.

Rich DeOtte formerly owned and operated a civil engineering and construction management firm in Keller. However, he recently closed his office and is retiring to focus his efforts on changing the national conversation on abortion.

There is reason to believe DeOtte may succeed as he has gone up against the judicial system and won. Although he is not famous, nor does he seek fame, lawyers and politicians may recognize his name from the 2019 federal court case DeOtte v Azar.

As a non-denominational evangelical, DeOtte felt that protestants had been overly deferential to Catholics in letting them lead the charge against abortion in the political, cultural, and legal realms. Being a business owner at the time, DeOtte was in the position to sue the Trump administration over its enforcement of an Obama-era law that required private employees to pay for a range of contraceptives.

Some of these contraceptives were “abortifacient,” meaning that they could eliminate a young embryo or prevent the attachment of a fertilized egg. Therefore, DeOtte’s counsel argued that the mandate violated his right not to fund something at odds with his sincerely held religious beliefs. The federal court agreed and issued an injunction, with the Supreme Court later striking down the mandate.

“The Court further DECLARES that the Contraceptive Mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to the extent it prevents the Individual Class members from purchasing health insurance that excludes coverage or payments for contraceptive methods that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs,” read the opinion.

DeOtte said he believes that politics is downstream from culture.

“But what changes culture?” DeOtte asked rhetorically. “The churches.”

“When people’s conception of God changes, in relationship to themselves, that changes the culture,” DeOtte told The Dallas Express.

DeOtte sees Christianity as the greatest force for cultural change and wants to push the churches to take more anti-abortion positions to create a more anti-abortion culture. One way he encourages people to effect change is to refer to the unborn as already living.

“Talk about the unborn as living, breathing people,” said DeOtte.

In this framework, DeOtte posed another question: “Can you kill somebody who can worship God?”

DeOtte was not always the crusader he is today. His journey started with a single image of an aborted pregnancy in a pamphlet a coworker used to have on the wall of his office in the mid-1980s.

Aborted baby

“It is not a particularly bloody image,” explained DeOtte to DX. “But that is a person in a paper bucket; that is when I realized what abortion was.”

The image that stuck in DeOtte’s heart is now out of circulation; nevertheless, he explained it was something he will never forget.

DeOtte noted that his interest in abortion was political at first, but in later decades, he became interested in the religious view regarding abortion.

He previously ran as the Republican candidate for District 98 in the Texas House of Representatives in the 2010 state legislative primary and built a solid awareness of issues affecting communities. DeOtte explained that, to his surprise, he often receives the most enthusiastic response from Christians at local Republican meetings even though he does not address abortion in “political terms.” As such, DeOtte said he believes this shows there is something Christian flocks are getting at these political meetings that they are not getting in their churches.

DeOtte explained that he began to study how Christianity purportedly ended the killing of children in a historical sense, citing the cessation of child sacrifice in the Americas and Europe.

He pursued the study of the Gospel and the unique ways “the unborn” are spoken of in Christianity, offering the example from Psalm 139:13, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb,” and Isaiah 44:24, “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself.’”

DeOtte believes that every atrocity committed against humanity has been due in part to a failure to value human life.

The unborn are “the starting point of life,” DeOtte said. “If we valued life at every stage, we wouldn’t have the issues we have today.”

The most attention-grabbing principle DeOtte asserts is that the unborn can worship.

He derived this conclusion from Luke 1:41,44, wherein a fetal John the Baptist leaps “with joy” in the womb upon his mother coming into contact with the virgin Mary while she was pregnant with Jesus Christ. DeOtte interprets this as demonstrating that Christ’s connection with the unborn is no different than those living outside the womb.

DeOtte told DX that he expanded an extant project to change the Texas church’s Biblical understanding of the sanctity of life. He made it his goal to “equip pastors with powerful pro-life messaging that is easy to teach and non-confrontational.”

DeOtte explained that this effort to educate in a way that is not perceived as aggressive in today’s society is easier said than done. “We do that by showing God teaches [that] we should treat the unborn just like you and me,” he said.

Under the aegis of his organization, Life Education and Action (LEA), DeOtte has established a website and a sermon prep video for pastors and anyone interested in learning more. Between LEA’s January 1, 2024 launch and the interview with DX, the organization has held meetings with more than 50 pastors.

However, DeOtte noted that fear is hamstringing many of the clergy.

“The church is afraid to talk about unborn life or abortion,” said DeOtte.

DeOtte noted that pastors fear that their congregations won’t return the following Sunday if they broach the topic. Therefore, DeOtte believes congregations are being deprived of education on one of society’s most important subjects, characterizing this negligence of knowledge as effectively “abandoning the flock.”

DeOtte further noted the educational gap on the part of many pastors.

“[Often] they’re hearing something they haven’t heard before,” Deotte said, adding, “[Pastors] did not know how clear the Bible was on abortion, and they are pro-life preachers.”

To address this lack of awareness, DeOtte explained that he had authored an appendix with various points to supplement his discussions with clergy members. The appendix’s publication is forthcoming. DeOtte has also authored They Just Overturned Roe. Now What?: A Biblical Approach to Changing the Culture.

Dedicated to his wife, who has worked alongside him in his fight to prevent abortions, the book opens with a quote from John Piper, an American theologian: “God created us for this: to live our lives in a way that makes him look more like the greatness and the beauty and the infinite worth that he really is. This is what it means to be created in the image of God.”

Additionally, DeOtte posits in the book why Christians should believe that life starts at conception as they reconsider their positions on abortion after the Supreme Court handed down the 2023 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson, the case that overturned Roe v. Wade. He encourages the clergy and laity to take up the subject and promote “The Ministry of Life.”

Although LEA accepts donations towards producing material for interested parties, DeOtte, who is mostly retired, does not seek compensation or recognition for what has become his full-time work. “I’m not looking for money or a gig,” he told DX. Instead, DeOtte asserts that he seeks only to move Christians toward a uniform position that promotes life.

Likewise, DeOtte rejects any designation of abortion as a subject restricted to any group, explaining that he sees abortion as a subject for everyone, especially Christian men, whom he believes must become more comfortable defending life.

“[Christian] men are pathetic when they cower,” DeOtte said. “Men and women are both better when they are strong [in their beliefs].”

DeOtte sees the fight for the unborn as one of several Christian movements that have upheld the intrinsic value of human life, adding, “I feel called to do this.”

However, this does not mean he is on this path alone. DeOtte invites anyone of faith to help, noting that nearly every religion favors life in some way.

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