Religious Gas-Lighting

By Sarah Jane Braasch-Joy

In loving memory of my baby brother, Jacob Michael Braasch (01/28/86 – 02/02/10)

Religionists are those who wish to make religious law the law of the land and impose their personal interpretations of religious law upon others. They come in many flavors, be they Christianists, Islamists, or what have you. The Republican Christianists in the US are a particularly vile sort of religionist.

See, we have a little thing called the First Amendment to the US Constitution, including both the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause. The First Amendment is a thing of great beauty, and whatever else may be said about the Founding Fathers, they got this point right. The First Amendment to the US Constitution establishes a near-impenetrable wall of separation between religion and state, despite the Republican Christianists’ efforts to tear it down.

So, the Republican Christianists in the US, since they can’t pass through the wall, are forced to scale the wall. They have to make like wolves in sheep’s clothing and disperse themselves amongst the secularists. They have to feign secular purposes for their religious doctrinal commandments, which they would impose upon the American citizenry. They have to pretend that their personal interpretations of religious canon just happen to coincide with moral majority opinion. It’s not that they are trying to impose religious law upon the citizenry. Oh, no. It’s just that moral majority opinion just happens to coincide perfectly with their personal interpretations of religious law.

This is why you will always see an anti-abortion and anti-women advocate begin with sweeping pronouncements about how EVERYONE wants to make abortion rare. EVERYONE wants to reduce the number of abortions to an absolute minimum. EVERYONE hates abortion. EVERYONE thinks abortion is evil.

They don’t want to make women sex slaves and baby incubators, as God demands. Oh, no. They just care so much about the human rights of the unborn babies.

They don’t want to shove their religious doctrine into my uterus. They don’t want to rape me with religious law. Oh, no. They just care so much about the health and safety and wellbeing of women, that they are willing to forego their commitment to small government and a free market and their libertarian principles, in order to spend time with me in my doctor’s office to help me make my own medical decisions.

They don’t want to legalize the sub-human and second-class citizenship status of women. Oh, no. They just want women to make fully informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive choices. They want them to have all of the information.

Or, all of the misinformation.

We can’t let them get away with this anymore. We have to call a spade a spade.

This is also why I would broaden the definition of secularism to preclude the consideration of, not just religious doctrine, but also subjective moral opinions, in the promulgation of secular law. And, think about it. Religious opinion is just another subjective moral opinion. Regardless of the number of adherents.

This is also why I refuse to play their game. This is why I reject the moniker of pro-choice. I am Pro-Abortion and proud. I do NOT want to make abortion rare. I do NOT want to reduce the number of abortions to an absolute minimum. I do NOT regard abortion as a necessary evil or as an evil at all. I do NOT hate abortion. I LOVE abortion. I want to encourage women to have abortions. I think abortion may save our overpopulated, dying world and our species. Abortion is safer than pregnancy. It is almost always in a woman’s best medical interests to abort a pregnancy. If you want to save the world, have an abortion.

I am not going to let them get away with their misinformation campaign. I am not going to let them get away with pretending that the moral majority agrees with them. I am not going to let them spread lies.

We will not be gas-lighted anymore. The best way to counteract the societal effects of cultural gas-lighting? Counter-stories of truth and facts and reason and logic.

I am so incensed by the prevalence of “Pregnancy Crisis Centers”, I can’t even tell you. Why are we letting them get away with this? Why? Why are we letting them masquerade as medical professionals to trick and coerce women out of having abortions? Why are we letting them put women’s health and lives and wellbeing at risk? Why are we letting them advertise under false pretenses and spread potentially harmful medical misinformation? Why are we letting them violate the privacy of private citizens? When the government turns a knowing blind eye to violations of our secular laws, based upon religious doctrine, it perpetrates egregious Establishment Clause violations. The charade is over. The cat is out of the bag. The jig is up. Everyone knows where the white elephant is. The emperor is naked.

To show what an abomination it is to allow these “Pregnancy Crisis Centers” to continue operating as they have been, consider the following scenario:

Jehovah’s Witnesses oppose blood transfusions. Blood is regarded as sacred. Knowingly and willingly giving blood or receiving a blood transfusion is regarded as the gravest of sins against Jehovah God.

Now, the blood supply in the US has actually had a checkered safety record. There have been real concerns, in the past, about the hazards that blood transfusions pose. I am not intending to be an alarmist. I know that every precaution is made to keep the blood supply safe and that transmissions of diseases from blood transfusions are now rare. But, my point is that, compared to abortion, there have been real reasons to be concerned about the safety of blood transfusions on a large scale.

Imagine for a moment that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are the majority Christian sect in the United States. Suppose that they decide to create a slew of non-profits, which they refer to as Blood Crisis Centers, with the goals of dissuading persons from having blood transfusions and of spreading medical misinformation about blood transfusions. Suppose that they employ insidious tactics, such as placing their Blood Crisis Centers near the entrances of hospital emergency rooms, making their Blood Crisis Centers look like medical clinics, and having their staff look and act as if they were medical professionals.

Would we stand for this? Not for one moment.

Would we be confused about the religious motivations of the perpetrators? Not for one second.

Would we allow the perpetrators to feign secular purposes? Are you fucking kidding me?

I find that removing the issue from a context to which we’ve been desensitized, after having been bombarded with religious propaganda and sophistry disguised as secular in nature, and placing the issue in the context of a non-mainstream Christian sect, illuminates the problem as little else can. Therefore, I’ve taken the liberty of employing a recent op-ed piece in The New York Times and changing all instances of abortion to blood.

The following is a parody of a recent opinion piece in The New York Times, which can be found here:

This parody constitutes a ‘fair use’ of this copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law, 17 U.S.C. § 107.

Why Won’t They Say?

In a setback for ill persons facing a particularly vulnerable moment in their lives, a federal judge has temporarily barred New York City from enforcing a new law that would require so-called blood crisis centers masquerading as licensed medical facilities to disclose basic facts about their services.

These centers, run by blood opponents, have sprung up in many places around the country. They typically draw clients with advertisements that appear to promise neutral blood counseling. Staff members in medical attire collect information and perform blood tests and try to convince ill persons not to have a blood transfusion. Ill persons who share personal information are also unaware that the centers are not covered by medical confidentiality rules.

The New York City law would require these centers to disclose in ads and waiting-room signs whether they have a licensed medical provider supervising services and whether they make referrals for blood transfusions. Client information they collect would be subject to confidentiality rules.

The decision by Judge Adam Lee of Federal District Court in Manhattan acknowledges the city’s interest in preventing deception related to time-sensitive health care. The judge still granted a preliminary injunction, mistakenly perceiving a violation of free expression in the law’s modest consumer protections.

The law does not prevent the centers from disseminating their anti-blood message or discriminate against the centers on the basis of their viewpoint. Rather, it requires them to make truthful, factual disclosures about their services. The judge claimed the measure’s description of the facilities it covers is too vague. But the criteria seem adequate to guide enforcement.

As the law stands, medical doctors can be required to convey certain factual information to ill persons to help them make informed choices. Under Judge Lee’s ruling, blood crisis centers pretending to be real medical facilities cannot be made to disclose essential facts about their real services. That makes no sense at all.

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About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Arc of Fire, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.