(The Center Square) – A Houston-area church has responded to Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s campaign purchasing billboards in Texas using a Bible verse to justify abortion. The church created its own billboard, which is up in Houston and going up in other states, its pastor told The Center Square.
Pastor Steve Riggle of Grace Woodlands Church located north of Houston said he was so disturbed by Newsom’s billboard ads he spoke about them for six minutes on Sunday, and his church created its own billboard. But he’s done more than that. He along with other pastors is encouraging Christians to vote, arguing voting has consequences.
His church’s billboard depicts a newborn baby and says, “Do I matter? God says yes. Abortion says no. Your vote says what you say. Vote for me. Vote for life.”
The first billboard went up on Thursday, but Riggle told The Center Square, “We are putting up eight more all over Houston. Some are being considered down in the Rio Grande Valley, three in Wisconsin.”
He says one is already up in Arizona and more are going up across America.
Newsom said he launched the billboards in “7 of the most restrictive anti-abortion states that explain how women can access care – no matter where they live. To any woman seeking an abortion in these anti-freedom states: California will defend your right to make decisions about your own health.”
One billboard in Texas reads, “Need an abortion? California is ready to help. Learn more at abortion.ca.gov. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these.’ Mark 12:31.”
Another reads, “Texas doesn’t own your body. You do,” depicting a woman wearing handcuffs.
Last year, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bipartisan Heartbeat Bill into law that largely outlaws abortion from being performed in Texas once a preborn baby’s heartbeat is detected. The law became effective Sept. 1 after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, returning the issue of abortion to the states.
Newsom’s reelection campaign has been increasingly targeting Republican governors, many political pundits believe as a precursor to him running for president. Rather than attack his Republican opponent in California, he first attacked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in July, inviting Floridians to move to the “free state of California.”
Newsom urged Floridians “to join the fight or join us in California where we still believe in freedom. Freedom of speech. Freedom to choose. Freedom from hate. And the freedom to love. Don’t let them take your freedom.”
Newsom likely was referring to Florida’s recent bans on teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade, its restrictions on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy and other policy issues.
In response, DeSantis, who was born and raised in Florida, said in his whole life, “I rarely, if ever, saw a California license plate” in Florida. Now, “You see a lot of ‘em,” he said. “I can tell you if you go to California, you ain’t seeing very many Florida license plates.”
DeSantis also said of Newsom: “As he was locking down his citizens, he would then go and have these extravagant dinners at the French Laundry to basically rub his citizens’ noses in the fact that he was treating them like peasants.
“In Florida, we weren’t locking them down, we were lifting our people up.”
Last month, Newsom began attacking Abbott and other Republican-led states after their legislatures passed a range of abortion restrictions that went into effect after Roe was overturned. In addition to Texas, they include Indiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina and South Dakota.
Riggle told Newsom in his public remarks, “Just remember who picked this fight. If you want to pick this fight we’re glad to finish it.”
He’s calling on other churches and groups to put up their own billboards and encouraging Christians to vote for life.
Abbott, who is running for reelection to his third term, said when he signed the heartbeat bill into law, “Our creator endowed us with the right to life. And yet, millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion.” The law “ensures that the life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion.”
Abbott’s Democratic challenger, Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, has vowed to do everything he can to overturn it, arguing the law strips women of their reproductive rights. A group that opposes Abbott also produced an ad claiming women don’t have access to healthcare in Texas as a result of the law, which critics argue is false.