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A 40-Day Firestorm? MO Minister Gets Pushback for Prayers

April 23, 2012

ST. LOUIS - A St. Louis area minister says she's being targeted by conservatives who don't like a series of prayers that she wrote. Reverend Rebecca Turner with the United Church of Christ says she openly supports women's reproductive rights. Recently an anti-abortion group saw some prayers that Turner had provided for women's clinics. She says they circulated the prayers online, with accusations that they were "a new campaign promoting abortion." And because the series was entitled "40 Days of Prayer," some accuse Turner of co-opting a conservative campaign, called "40 Days of Prayer for Life."

But Turner says she wrote the prayer series four years ago, and that the phrase "40 Days" doesn't belong to anyone.

"To accuse us of stealing their idea of 40 prayers would allow me to say that they stole the idea of doing 40 days of prayer from Jesus, so - having 40 days of prayer is a long-standing Christian tradition."

To those who have accused her of praying for abortions, Turner answers that her prayers cover many women's issues.

"They are just prayers of support for women, and all of those people who serve women. You know, we pray for the lives of women. We pray for all of the women who do choose abortion. We also pray for those who choose adoption."

Turner says she wishes the discussions about controversial women's issues could be civil, and she's concerned that targeting those with opposing viewpoints makes that impossible.

"It is painful. Why can't we talk about the woman? Why can't we offer her love and support?"

Turner says the prayers were written to support all women, and in all reproductive circumstances. But she says since the conservative criticisms have "gone viral," she has received more than 100 pieces of hate mail, some containing threatening language.

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - MO