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Friday, July 26, 2013

Signs and Songs at the Texas Capitol: What Have We Learned?

[Today's post by Rebecca Downs is part of our paid blogging program.]

Texas Governor Rick Perry just signed the state's pro-life omnibus bill into law last week. In his statements he said he'd "like to thank everyone involved in making today's signing a possibility, including... everyone who stood for life throughout this process." The pro-lifers who maintained a peaceful presence certainly deserve recognition and thanks from the governor. What they had to contend with in the form of angry pro-aborts could not have been easy.

Many pro-abortion advocates at the Capitol were photographed holding offensive and obscene signs. A young girl even held a sign that said "If I Wanted the Government in my Womb, I'd F*** a Senator!" Others also took on a religious tone, to attack the Christian faith. Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America compiled a list of several of the signs she saw while there. One includes a teen girl with a sign that said "Jesus Isn't a D***, Keep Him Out of My Vagina." Another sign clearly shows the assumption about the reasoning behind being pro-life and pro-life laws, which read "America is NOT a theocracy. Your religion is NOT what decides law. If you want theocracy, move to Iran." A few there attempted to drown out pro-lifers in song with chants of "Hail Satan!" and there were also separate instances where pro-abortion advocates shouted of "F*** the Church!" 

The pro-lifers at the Capitol did engage in prayer and singing hymns such as "Amazing Grace," which is what prompted the chants of "Hail Satan!" Pro-lifers singing "God Bless America" were also drowned out with booing. It would seem that many of the pro-lifers present were religious persons. However, that does not mean that all were and even if they were, that does not mean they were there purely for religious reasons. Further, the religious preferences of those at the Texas Capitol do not represent those of all pro-lifers.

For those who carried such signs, they themselves were only further contributing to the problem of making abortion a religious issue. Religion need have nothing to do with a debate based on science and our inalienable rights. When pro-lifers bring religion into this debate, that speaks specifically to personal preferences. The pro-abortion response-- attacking those personal preferences-- is hardly surprising. It's also unsurprising that in doing so, they painted the entire pro-life movement with one brush.

And just as we've seen before, many of us firsthand, false assumptions are being made about the pro-life movement. These assumptions may be true for some individuals, but it is woefully ignorant to claim they are true for all pro-lifers. Taking the time to do basic research will show that not all pro-life organizations are based upon religion. To repeat such a false claim that abortion is a religious issue actually demonstrates that those who oppose us are the ones set in their ways.

16 comments:

MSS said...

While being a religious person, I try to never argue against abortion using religion. It makes it too easy to prove the pro-abortion minded person wrong. I like the challenge.

SPLfan said...

I agree with your *general* point -- that abortion needs to be fought and won on common ground, and in our society that common ground won't be the Christian creeds. However, you write: "Religion need have nothing to do with a debate based on science and our inalienable rights." That only works when all parties in the debate accept the premise of inalienable rights as a given.

In non-Christian heritage cultures like the one I live in now (i.e. societies whose historical development was *not* heavily influenced by Judeo-Christian ideas re: moral absolutes, the Imago Dei, etc.), the idea of inalienable rights is not necessarily a given nor assumed. And the concept of inalienable rights is increasingly being denied even in the West. I've bumped into more than one pro-abortion-rights proponent who willingly and explicitly admit that individuals have no inherent value nor intrinsic rights. So the question for secular prolifers is: In a non-theistic universe, where do these inalienable rights come from? Why should I believe there are such things? And even if you can make a coherent case for their existence, why should care to respect them? Absent Judeo-Christian theism, --the original ultimate ontological grounding for inalienable rights in Western civilization -- on what do you ground this idea that every individual has inherent rights?

Secularists don't need to worry about this question so long as the idea is generally accepted. But it is increasingly rejected. The will come sooner than later when the case for inalienable rights will have to be made to people who strongly oppose it. And I can't see a way to do that absent Judeo-Christian-style theism.

Ron Cole said...

"Thou shalt not steal" is not the reason why we punish those who steal... same thing.

Kevin Charron said...

I applaud your commitment to lending voice and time to the pro life cause. As for morality being a subsidiary of the Judeo Christian religion is without proof or merit. To say religion is the ground or bedrock for morality is akin to religion staking claim on the origins of the cosmos.

There will always be a group that has extreme views in this case some that contend humans have no intrinsic value at all. We don't need religion to counter that argument. Despite where our laws or morality is grounded that fact remains that life is precious and ought to be protected.

Prior to your 6000 year old religion how did the human population manage to survive without those Christian values being brought to the masses. Consider that the human species is over 100,000 years old. It was the natural order of survival to group together and protect the next generation and so on.

The greatest evolutionary feat could very well be the human mind. the human mind is capable of devising complex means of coexistence and advanced emotional stimuli. Religion only blurs the lines, using it as a base for morality is not conducive to the argument. In fact, it's wasting precious time to drag false gods into the ring.

Dolce said...

I think you are very much missing the point. SPLfan did NOT say that "religion is the ground or bedrock for morality", but that the idea of inalienable rights grew out of a Judeo-Christian philosophy. That is not to say that there couldn't be atheistic/agnostic/humanist philosophies which also posit an inalienable right to life - but if there are, then these philosophies need to begin to be discussed and promoted. I do not see that happening in any convincing way.

Additionally, asking people to check their religion at their door is ridiculous. Did Martin Luther King Jr. do that? Did many of the slavery abolitionists do that? Do Christians who volunteer, give money to Charities, or promote stewardship of our fellow man and environment do that? No. And neither should pro-lifers. One thing Christian pro-lifers SHOULD do, and I think in this sense I agree with the sentiment of this piece, is be more welcoming to those who agree with the pro-life cause but not necessarily with other Christian values (i.e.: groups like Secular Pro-Life, Pro-Life Humanists, or PLAGAL, etc). A diversity of backgrounds is an ASSET to this cause - asking members of the community, whether atheist, christian, gay, secular, pagan, etc, to hide their differences (or, conversely insisting that everyone who is prolife agree on all issues, r.e.: contraception or gay rights) is a mistake in my opinion.

KB said...

Inalienable rights come from a society that recognizes the social, economic, and physical damages resulting from excluding a certain sect of the whole for arbitrary reasons. Many of the founding fathers identified these rights even as they were becoming increasingly non-theistic.
Morality is subjective, but that doesn't mean that some forms of morality don't produce better results (i.e. a safer society, technological and scientific progress, happier people, etc, pick your litmus test).
One doesn't need to cling on to old myths about a bronze age Canaanite god of war (yahweh) in order to determine what is good or bad. In fact, I strongly recommend against using the bible for morality, be its stance on slavery, or the fact god has no problem slaughtering children left and right. Look up 2 Samuel 11. Look up evangelical defenses for god killing David's son. They sound eerily similar to the pro-choice movement (the kid was going to have a bad life anyway, killing him just sent him straight to heaven, he was a product of a bad situation).

KB said...

I don't think he is telling anyone to check their religion at the door, merely that religion is not a pre-requisite for morality. Similarly, a world that has lost religion can respect inalienable rights, so there is no reason to fear a diminishing "judeo-christian" perspective on the pro-life cause.
I hear this claim made often, that the judeo-christian perspective is what informed the western values we have since evolved. I don't really buy that. There really isn't the evidence to support that. Was it the same judeo-christian perspective that began the Inquisition, or the Crusades, or medieval tortures? We see a much greater turn to the idea of individual liberties and individual justice in the Renaissance, when there was a revival of thought from Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, who were admittedly, not judeo-christian. Prior to that, torturing one peasant out of 100 for a petty crime, just to drive home a point to the rest of them that they were essentially owned by their lord was considered acceptable. (kinda like that Jesus story, right?)
So I posit that it is an ever expanding awareness of what "human" is, and the associated emphasis on individual rights, that will take the pro-life cause from a wedge issue on personal preferences, to an inalienable right as it should be in this country.

Kevin Charron said...

KB is correct, I'm not saying that the support from our God fearing brothers and sisters isn't wanted or needed. I started off by saying that I applaud the involvement. What I have an issue with is this part of SPLfan's posting

"So the question for secular prolifers is: In a non-theistic universe, where do these inalienable rights come from? Why should I believe there are such things? And even if you can make a coherent case for their existence, why should care to respect them? Absent Judeo-Christian theism, --the original ultimate ontological grounding for inalienable rights in Western civilization -- on what do you ground this idea that every individual has inherent rights?

"Secularists don't need to worry about this question so long as the idea is generally accepted. But it is increasingly rejected. The will come sooner than later when the case for inalienable rights will have to be made to people who strongly oppose it. And I can't see a way to do that absent Judeo-Christian-style theism."



Regardless of where our morality comes from SPLfan is making a clear case as to why we should adhere to Judeo Christian moral policy in the fight for the unborn since it's being sold to us as a foundation or bedrock to rest on. That is what I have a problem with.


I understand that the laws and policies in place for over a century here in Canada are chipped away. It's obvious that the way public opinion has been changed to accept these atrocities is by design. But I don't agree that Judeo Christian moral accountablity is the trump card here.


After all, if you want to talk about eugenics and theism let's talk about the Catholic support in Nazi Germany. Before, during, and after the concentration camps were unveiled the Catholic church was sneaking Nazi's into South America.


If that example doesn't fly directly in the face of this movement than what about the changing of doctrine in the Catholic church. It too adheres it's view to public opinion like it did in Germany and like it did with slavery. Don't tell me that we're better off placing our bets on religion as a moral support.

Rebecca Downs said...

This is pretty much a similar answer as to what I would provide. Our founding documents were written by those men with Judeo-Christian beliefs, but that does not mean that all who abide by the document have to have such said beliefs. It is the Declaration of Independence which says that we are given these inalienable rights. If you want to say that that comes from God or some other force of nature, so be it. So, a document which you can take to be religious, or not, as well as science each grant support for the pro-life cause.

Kevin Charron said...

Your Declaration Of Independents wasn't solely written by men with Judeo Christian beliefs. Some were deists others were non believers and some were theists. What is clear about anyone that looks into the history of your Declaration is that it was written with intent of separating church from state. They didn't want to duplicate the problems they saw with the Church of England having control of Britain.

Melissa Hunter-Kilmer said...

"One doesn't need to cling on to old myths about a bronze age Canaanite god of war . . . to determine what is good or bad."

There's no need to use language that is offensive to those who believe in God. It doesn't help us build bridges that will help our common cause.



We don't have to believe the same things to work together, do we? But we do need to respect each other.

Alden Smith said...

I have always avoided conversation about abortion. I am Christian didn't become one until last year and Pro Life since I can remember. For one I was taught that life was sacred and one the most precious things in this world. I witnessed that when I was PICU in Nashville, TN watch both of twin nephews who born prematurely hooked up to machines. One of them was taken off life support when they realized that he would never be able to breath on his own. I experience and watch how it tore up my family and Brother in Law and Older sister.

KB said...

No disrespect to the person whatsoever. Yahweh was the Canaanite god of war, before he became a focal point and cultural place holder for the diaspora of exiled Jews in Assyria, and later, a rallying call for Constantine in the Roman Empire.
That's a fact. These things are historically documented. Facts are not insults. If people choose to believe one thing or another about ancient stories (or modern ones like Xenu for that matter) it is their own affair, and I generally don't let it impact my view of them as a person. The point of that statement is that belief is not required for morality.
If you do not find it offensive that the statement was made by the previous commenter that morality cannot come but through the judeo-christian tradition (thus rendering me, an atheist who shuns the judeo-christian tradition, de facto, unable to develop morals), then you shouldn't find the null statement offensive either.

Rebecca Downs said...

I'm not disputing that claim. And you certainly raise a good point about the Church of England and issues they caused. But I will still stick to that in many ways our country was founded on Judeo-Christian beliefs. That doesn't mean all the founders held such beliefs or that our founding principles/documents could only apply to those with said beliefs. They did play some part though. I'm just saying how the term of inalienable rights can be applied from a religious perspective, as well as non-religious.

Masumi5 said...

I don't think it really matters. Even if you only debate with science and logic, they're still going to scream about religion, because frankly, that's all they have.

Pro-lifer: I'm against abortion because of I've studied Embryology.

Pro-abort: STOP SHOVING RELIGION DOWN MY THROAT!!!


And many religious based pro-life websites still mention scientific findings. Is it our fault they can only rely on strawmans?

Washington G. said...

"The United States is in no sense founded upon the Christian doctrine." -Article XI, Treaty of Tripoli, passed by Congress 1797