Presbyterian minister conducts blessing ceremony for Planned Parenthood facility in Portland

(Reuters/Ilana Panich-Linsman)Planned Parenthood South Austin Health Center is seen in Austin, Texas, U.S. June 27, 2016.

A Presbyterian minister has recounted how he and other chaplains hosted a service to bless a Planned Parenthood facility in Portland last week.

In an article published in the Press Herald, The Rev. Marvin Ellison defended his decision to work as a volunteer chaplain for a Planned Parenthood facility to offer support to patients and staff.

The minister said that patients are often surprised to see him inside the abortion facility, but he contended that he is "proud to be part of a highly professional and highly caring health care team."

He contended that he is supporting Planned Parenthood because of his Christian faith and values.

Ellison argued that many religious people are actually supportive of Planned Parenthood's work, even though it is often assumed that people of faith generally oppose the organization.

He pointed to a study, conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), indicating that the majority of religious Americans "support sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice."

The chaplain went on to list several reasons why he and his colleagues decided to perform a blessing ceremony for a Planned Parenthood clinic in Portland.

Ellison said that the first reason was to express gratitude to the staff, patients, volunteers and supporters of the facility.

The second reason, according to the minister, was to "acknowledge the very challenging cultural and political context in which the health center operates."

"Third, we wanted to reaffirm the wider community's support of Planned Parenthood. We believe in its mission and applaud its life-affirming values," the minister wrote.

Ellison said that the chaplains concluded the blessing service by saying: "Hear this loud and clear: In the name of all that is holy and good, Planned Parenthood your name is blessed. Each staff member is a blessing to this community and to those for whom you provide health care, education and advocacy. You are the blessing, and we thank God for you."

The Planned Parenthood facility in Portland was not the first clinic to be blessed by Christian clerics in recent years.

In January 2017, more than 20 faith leaders conducted a blessing service, organized by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, for a Planned Parenthood facility in Washington, D.C.

Apart from Christian clerics, the blessing was performed by Hindu priests, a rabbi and an Imam over Skype.

According to Life News, Planned Parenthood aborts about 320,000 unborn babies each year and receives about half a billion dollars of taxpayer money. The latest annual report from the organization showed that it had earned $1.46 billion last year.

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