Writer Shannon Dingle is the mother of six kids, several of whom are adopted. Some of them have disabilities while others have special needs. Her Republican church friends applauded her for her “pro-life” decisions — at least until she asked them to support policies that would make her kids’ lives a bit easier.
Then they balked.
Dingle took them to task in a piece for USA Today:
I used to be a Republican. In every presidential election until 2016, I voted Republican, just like most of our friends.
Our Republican friends supported our adoptions in 2012 and 2013. Many exalted our decision more highly than we ever deserved, calling it an explicitly pro-life choice when all we did was choose a less conventional way to add to our family. Most have “unfriended” me now.
Why? Because I got too political, they said. Politics were acceptable when it came to restricting abortion through the courts, something I used to champion. That’s not really about politics, they said, it’s about life. Yet once I spoke out in favor of life-sustaining policies for our children, it was about politics not life.
“You’re too political” is indeed one of the more laughable insults to come out of the last election, especially when used on other Christians. What was Jesus, if not political? His crucifixion, as the story goes, was itself an expression of politics. His life was just the beginning of a long history of fusing politics with religion.
Dingle mentioned a list of ways Republican policies had affected her kids: Cuts to entitlement programs when a child relies on a Medicaid waiver, disbanding the HIV advisory council when a child has HIV, putting the legal status of immigrants in jeopardy when four of her kids are immigrants, etc. And that’s before getting into the GOP’s attempts to allow insurance providers to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions, a move that would leave most of her kids at risk of being uninsured.
Then there’s the blatant racism. And anti-LGBTQ animus.
Ultimately, Dingle’s point is that politics is enmeshed with daily life. You cannot fully engage with a community without also being political. Your vote affects the people around you, whether you realize it or not.
For those in the dominant culture — white, male, cisgender, straight, Christian, abled, U.S. born — a helmet of privilege kept them from seeing that the issues that are mere politics for them are the same ones that are personal to us, literally functioning to keep us safe and alive.
I’m trying to understand. “Both sides” rhetoric isn’t what will help here, though. I’m not calling for civility in the face of pipe bombs. I am calling for truth and integrity.
Implied throughout Dingle’s article is this: the true test of being “pro life” isn’t just about how passionate you are about protecting children in the womb. How you treat them post-birth matters far more.
It’s a shame that Dingle’s former friends are blind to their hypocrisy.