By Annelise Pierce
As the Supreme Court debated a Mississippi abortion law that could overturn Roe v. Wade on December 3, Kris Vallotton, Senior Associate Leader of Redding’s Bethel Church, posted on social media, comparing women who get abortions to school shooters.
“Solving a family problem through aborting a child,” Vallotton wrote on his widely followed ministry account, “is like solving a school conflict with a school shooting. Killing people who cause conflict in your life is not a reasonable solution!”
In addition to his ministry duties, Vallotton serves as the Chairman of Advance Redding, a non-profit started by Bethel Church that manages Redding’s Civic Auditorium. The Advance Redding contract was granted a ten year extension with the city this year and is considered a “key stakeholder” in potential development of key Redding riverfront land.
His words about abortion came as the nation was reeling from a school shooting in Michigan that left four students dead. As in many school shootings, it’s still unclear what led the alleged shooter, a minor, to open fire on his classmates. But research shows a mix of factors including unaddressed mental health issues, life challenges, and social isolation all likely contribute to triggering these violent acts.
In contrast, over 70 percent of women who choose legal medical abortion procedures do so because they feel unable to care for a child due to the burdens of work, education, finances, or other children. In the United States, abortion is both legal and common: the Guttmacher Institute reports that one in four women in America will have an abortion by the age of 45.
American women continue to face significant stigma connected to abortion. A 2020 research study that looked at almost 1,000 American women who had considered abortion, found that most experienced psychological distress linked to the stigma of abortion, even years later. That study also indicated religious affiliation is closely linked with the likelihood of womanhood to experience both internalized and externalized stigma after seeking an abortion.
Religious opposition to abortion has also motivated violent attacks on abortion clinics and providers. Between 1977 and 2015, according to reporting from Vox, there have been 8 murders, 17 attempted murders, 42 bombings, and 186 arsons perpetrated against abortion clinics and providers in the United States. Locally, Women’s Health Specialists, an independent women’s clinic in Redding that provides abortions among a myriad of other health and social services, has been repeatedly targeted by arson over the past decades.
Vallotton helps run Bethel Church, a Redding megachurch that claims 10,000 local attendees and in 2018 had an annual revenue of $60 million. The church has national and international influence through its subsidiaries, Bethel Music and Bethel TV, and attracts visitors from around the nation and the world. Leaders of the church have visited the White House to pray for Donald Trump during his impeachment proceedings and issued statements in opposition to the Equality Act and other LGBTQ+ inclusive legislation.
He is also the co-founder of Bethel’s School of Supernatural Ministry, and the founder of Bethel Media and the Bethel School of Technology. He runs a ministry called Moral Revolution, which refers to itself as “a company of radicals helping to define sexuality.” He recently received news coverage after a video of his misogynistic statements about women went viral.
Like other Bethel leaders, Vallotton has an extensive online following. Known as Bethel’s senior prophet, Vallotton claims to regularly hear directly from God for both himself and others. He is a sought out speaker among churches in the New Apostolic Reformation movement because of his perceived abilities to have insight into the future. He incorrectly prophesied that Trump would win the 2020 election, an error he has apologized for.
Bethel’s unique combination of religious popularity and perceived spiritual power, have allowed Vallotton and others in leadership to both earn income and promote their ideas through books, speaking engagements and teaching materials. Vallotton’s latest project is an online school known as the Spiritual Intelligence Institute which offers students the opportunity to “start living with increased insight and advanced intellect” at prices up to nearly $1000 for a 12-week course.
On the promotional website for that program, Vallotton offers potential students access to the same insight and heavenly solutions he purports to offer his community and the world. “Do you want to … access divine brilliance that impacts a whole generation and provide solutions that could save a nation?” the website asks. “Spiritual Intelligence Institute’s enrollment is now open!”
Disclosure: Annelise Pierce is a former member of Bethel Church.
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This article was originally published by Shasta Scout.