Of all the responses I’ve seen to Alabama’s abortion ban, perhaps the most effective was a Facebook post made nearly a year ago by a Christian minister.
The post that went viral over the past week was all about how right-wing Christians love to talk about the “unborn” because in addition to riling up the conservative base, there’s literally no work involved in advocating for them.
You can see why that statement was so powerful. It’s a perfect encapsulation of the Christian Right’s hypocrisy about abortion: They get to hoist up the “pro-life” banner while avoiding all the political work that goes into making actual people’s lives better. They get to pretend to have the moral high ground while directly causing others to suffer. And here was a Christian pastor saying what secular liberals and other progressive religious groups have been saying for years.
Barnhart also posted something else after the Alabama bill was signed into law.
Keep in mind that the United Methodist Church is currently going through a major schism that’s centered around LGBTQ rights. Many pastors are fully supportive and inclusive, but earlier this year, the denomination as a whole voted to reject support for marriage equality and ordaining LGBTQ clergy. In time, that means the more progressive churches could split off from the UMC.
Anyway, Barnhart was recalling how more conservative UMC clergy members in his area were proposing a resolution calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Knowing how such an action would only make life worse for women, Barnhart asked the authors of the resolution to meet with him so they could discuss the wording. He was open to a resolution calling for fewer abortions, but he wanted to make sure they were addressing root causes instead of just putting an obstacle in front of women.
It didn’t go well.
As he says, the authors weren’t interested in his thoughts. They certainly didn’t care about reducing the number of abortions.
The fact is, if comprehensive sex education and free/easy access to birth control made elective abortions almost entirely disappear, pro-life zealots would still whine about the existence of Planned Parenthood.
They aren’t interested in lowering abortion rates. They only care about controlling women’s bodies. They’ll punish them for having sex (in the case of Alabama, even when the women didn’t want it) or they’ll punish them for not wanting to raise a child in certain conditions.
The entire “pro-life” movement hinges on getting a whole bunch of people obsessed with something that doesn’t exist to the point where reasoning with them is all but impossible. It’s the same thing religious leaders do with God.
If anyone can break that spell, it’s someone on the inside, who knows how the game is played, who speaks the language, and who has the credibility to burst the anti-abortion bubble. If only more pastors had the courage to say all this out loud as Barnhart did.
(Featured image via Shutterstock)