Abortion is a huge problem in the Christian community. The Guttmacher Institute reveals that 54% of abortion patients identified themselves as Christians (Catholic, Protestant, or evangelical). And a Care Net study from 2015 of 1,038 abortion patients showed that 70% of abortion patients were Christian and 43% were actively attending church at the time of the abortion.
Maddi Runkles’ story of being excessively and unfairly punished, more so than any other student, for breaking the moral code at her school is not unique. Her sin has a visible consequence. As her story became national news and ran on thousands of television and newspaper outlets, the comments also poured in and people told their own stories, or stories of people they knew, who had faced similar circumstances.
Our goal, and Maddi’s goal, of this story is to challenge all Christian schools to rethink their policies on pregnant and parenting students. There are better ways to support them and not publicly embarrass them, especially after they choose life for their child.
The following comments were shared on social media in response to Maddi’s story. Names have been removed from the comments below unless they ran in publications, which are linked.
- As a former Executive Director of a Pregnancy Center, I saw many Christian girls terrified of being pregnant and wanting abortions because of the fear of the rejection by the Christian community. This Christian school’s reaction is reprehensible and contributes to the abortions that young Christian girls get. Jesus forgave repentant sinners he didn’t keep persecuting them. One sin should not be followed up with a corporate sin against the sinner.
- My daughter went through a similar experience. These so called Christian schools punish young women and do absolutely nothing for young men who father children. For my child to return to campus after the birth of her baby, she was told she could never bring her child to the school. So she didn’t. Her friends did. I did. Other parents did. He didn’t miss an event at school.
- As someone who went to a Christian school, I can tell you that my schoolmates who became or got someone pregnant were treated horrendously.
- I have a friend who was expelled from Liberty university in the 1990s for being pregnant. She had the baby, gave her up through an open adoption, and enrolled at a secular state university from which she graduated. I wish the Liberty folks could see her now. She has a close relationship with her biological child, is happily married with three more kids, and works full time for a progressive Christian church.
- I was Dean of Students in a religious oriented school in the 90s and into the early 2000s. I find this very upsetting. We allowed students to continue their education, made a few special arrangements when necessary and walk the graduation line if they so chose. Therefore I find this the height of Christian hypocrisy. She had a chose and she chose to bring the child to term. I applaud her choice and hope she has support for the days ahead. That will be the key to her success as a parent.
- As someone who had a child out of wedlock and who was basically [ostracized] from her church and ministry and made to feel like a complete leave terrible awful person, I find this behavior from a Christian place of schooling to be discussing and hypocritical. What about grace, what about forgiveness, what about all of those who are having sex who just didn’t get pregnant? There are so many ways this could have been handled differently and I am definitely going to be sending a small donation and emailing the principal. This makes my heart break for those who have been there and who have been made to feel like they’re babies our mistakes and that God isn’t bigger than there sin.
- “While the shame my friend experienced was terrifically painful, nothing could prepare her and her husband for what happened to their teenage daughter, “Sarah” (a pseudonym), after she was brutally raped by a peer. Sarah became pregnant and chose to keep her baby. Last year, when Sarah was finally ready to restart her studies, she couldn’t bring herself to return to her former public school and instead considered local Christian schools in the Chicago area. The first school she approached had an admissions counselor who stated that “we are a school that is just full of grace” but then immediately told Sarah and her parents she could only attend if she signed away her parental rights to her mother, the baby’s grandmother. After Sarah and her parents approached another high-profile Christian school, they were told that Sarah “wasn’t the right fit” and that the school didn’t “have the right resources” to support her as a student. The school stood its ground, despite the fact that Sarah’s parents had the resources to provide childcare for the baby and therapy for Sarah. Sarah’s mother reported to me that it was the response of these two Christian schools ‘that could turn her away from the church completely.’” ~ Let the Pregnant Grads Walk, Christianity Today, 5/30/17
- Maddi, when I first heard your story, I was reminded of my own. I was a senior in college when I got pregnant. I had been homeschooled in a Christian setting in middle school, although I did attend a public high school. I was close enough to home that I went home on weekends, which meant church on Sunday’s. It was not easy telling them I was pregnant. But I did it, and they were far more supportive than I had expected (even had a baby shower at the church). My baby will be 13 in October, and I can’t imagine my life without her.
- I was a pro life counselor for over 20 years. Many young ladies in the Christian community get abortions because they know they will be judged. I do not agree with punishing her. She did wrong and admitted it but continuing to punish her is wrong. She should be supported and loved. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. God forgives if we repent.
- “My three daughters attended an all-girls Catholic school in New York City. The year one of them graduated, there was a similar situation. A young woman had gotten pregnant, chose life, and was not allowed to graduate with her class. She sat in the audience with her mother and the baby, watching as another young woman who also had been pregnant walked across the stage. That student chose abortion for her child.” ~ Janet Morana, Silent No More
- My story is similar to Maddi’s. I got pregnant right before my senior year of high school. I was forced to give up my leadership positions in the school, however I was treated with dignity, respect, forgiveness, and grace. The wonderful woman in this picture made sure it was possible for me to graduate a semester early so I could stay home after the birth of my baby, and then she allowed me to walk with my graduating class. My secular public school treated me more Christ like than Maddi’s Christian school. What a shame. What a waste of an opportunity to show gods grace and love.
- Maddi, Thirty seven years ago, I was the pregnant senior in a Christian high school. The pro-life crisis pregnancy volunteers told me I would have to hide my pregnancy because the school could and would expel me. It didn’t matter that the post-abortive students I knew were not at risk of expulsion. I was. I was 4 months from graduation when I had that conversation. I was barely hanging on. I was not an excellent student. I was not the president of the student council. I wasn’t the star of any team. My mother scrubbed floors to send me to that school. I did what they advised. I hid my pregnancy. I graduated. In September of that year, I gave birth to my baby. In shame. And I left the Church. I left the Church because the hypocrisy was crushing– it was too much to bear. It took many years for the shame to go away. It took many years for me to return to the Church. Today, I am absolutely certain there are far worse examples to Christian high school girls than to see a fellow student with a growing pregnant belly. I believe my classmates saw those worse examples played out on me. I came back to the Church. Many of my former classmates haven’t.
- I once taught in a Christian School that ostracized a young girl who was pregnant. I gave my opinion to the Pastors and they were rude to me. I shared the Word and they disagreed.
- I went to a school with this policy and knew a girl who wanted her baby but had an abortion so that she wouldn’t get kicked out. It was all very hush-hush. To be truly pro-life means supporting these young parents even if the image of the school suffers. They’ve got a hard enough road ahead of them.
- I went to a Christian college. As a freshman, there was a pregnant upperclassman. I didn’t know her, I just knew she was pregnant and still attending. She was kicked out. Grace should be extended to pregnant students.
There are some good stories, too!
- We had a girl go through this at the Catholic School I taught at. At graduation, we not only let her walk, but when she graduated as the salutatorian, we awarded her the “faith” award for recognizing faith isn’t about being perfect, but about accepting responsibility for your sins, asking forgiveness, and getting help. She is now an incredible young lady and extremely active with SFL’s “pregnant on campus” initiative.
- Wow, how sad. I went to a Catholic high school and one of my teachers told us that one year the student that was valedictorian happened to be pregnant as well. She of course still was able to go to graduation and give her speech. There was also a student body gathering (it was a small school) that took place where she revealed her baby’s name and the students prayed over her and her unborn child. Additionally, my school has a rule that if the father of the baby also attends the school, then he must be miss school as much as the mother misses school due to the pregnancy (doctor visits, bedrest, labor, etc). I wish this school were more like my old high school.
- Back in the 1970’s at a all girl Catholic HS in Toledo Ohio that I attended, there were classmates who became pregnant. The young Moms were never shunned, we supported them during this challenging time.
- I attended a small, Catholic, all-girls high school in CA. We had a classmate who found herself pregnant our senior year. She chose life for her daughter, continued to go to classes, delivered a month before graduation and was there on graduation day. It taught all of us in that school so much about compassion and forgiveness, 2 of the biggest key virtues of Jesus’ teachings and the primary foundations of Christian-based religions. I’m not sure what this school’s reasoning is, but I can assure you that NOBODY is learning anything from this… especially compassion and forgiveness.
- I became pregnant in high school. My church loved and supported me, never shamed me or left me out of events, welcomed my daughter with open arms, and now every time my pastor greets my husband and I he tells us how proud of us he is and how much he loves our family. That’s the Grace of God in action, everyone. Take note.
- “My father once told me a story about how his church growing up responded to a young woman in Maddie’s position. Like Maddie, the pregnant woman confessed her sin before the church. But unlike Maddie’s school, the church then immediately gathered around the weeping girl – hugged her, prayed for her, and then committed their love and support to her as she moved into motherhood.” ~ Christian Post