The Pastors Still Have Influence

Even though Pulpit Freedom Sunday is over, don’t think pastors still won’t try to sway their congregation.

An excerpt from a recent Slate column shows us how easy it is to manipulate parishioners:

Two years ago, [Nancy Gilgannon, a pro-life Pennsylvania Democrat who voted for Bush,] told me she blamed her church for Bush’s election—and felt she’d been conned into voting for him: “It was the church’s fault … I talked to several priests and they all said, ‘There’s only one issue in this election.’ I said, ‘What about the poor, and Social Security?’ And they said, ‘There is only one issue.’ Oh, it was hard to push that button for Bush; I think I was just used, and that’s what really grinds me.”

And all that is perfectly legal.

It shocks me that anyone would vote based on one single issue.

Especially when there are so many good reasons not to vote for John McCain…

Regardless of whom you’re voting for, what are your main reasons for voting that way?

(Thanks to Rose for the link!)

  • SarahH

    I’m prioritizing civil rights and freedoms here in the US (and no, that’s not including a right to not pay taxes). If there was a wide range of viable candidates and several satisfied me in the first area, I’d next prioritize foreign policy, but there are just two, and Obama wins by about 300,000,000 to 2.

  • Daniel H.

    If someone considers abortion to be murder, millions of murders are being legally committed every year. If that’s someone’s view of abortion, how could it not completely overwhelm every other consideration?

    What if everything was going swimmingly in Nazi Germany, except for the whole concentration camp issue?

  • David D.G.

    Daniel H.:

    It’s a given that anyone protesting the concentration camps in Germany would have quickly become an inmate in one of them (or would have suffered a similarly grisly fate with the apparent show of legal justice). The Holocaust was not only sanctioned by the government, but was actively pursued by it, no matter what the citizenry might have wanted if it had been given any real choice.

    Conversely, in the here and now of the U.S.A., thousands of people protest abortion by all sorts of means, yet nobody is throwing them into prison or worse. Their voices are heard loud and clear. However, their will simply does not prevail over the legal right of individual women to determine the fate of their own bodies.

    Furthermore, there is hardly a proper correlation between living, breathing, taxpaying German citizens being rounded up into ghettoes, then put into forced labor camps and/or killed by firing squads and gas chambers, and clumps of cells that haven’t become individual “people” by legal (or any other objective, sensible) definition — so I’m afraid that your analogy to the Nazi Holocaust is strained past the breaking point.

    ~David D.G.

  • Richard Wade

    “It was the church’s fault … I talked to several priests and they all said, ‘There’s only one issue in this election.’ I said, ‘What about the poor, and Social Security?’ And they said, ‘There is only one issue.’ Oh, it was hard to push that button for Bush; I think I was just used, and that’s what really grinds me.”

    The whining tone of this is nauseating. “Oh those big bad priests bullied me into voting twice for an idiot. It’s not my fault.”
    Grow up and stop being a sheep. The “shepherds” will keep using your ass until you start using your head.

  • Steelman

    Even in situations where church leaders aren’t overstepping their bounds legally, getting wrapped up in politics is destructive not just to free, democratic governance, but to the church itself.

    Apparently, many in England don’t take religion very seriously (as evidenced by lack of church attendance, and the relative absence of declarations of faith among politicians). One of the reasons for this is that having the ruling monarch as head of the church, and bishops in parliament, has allowed the general populace to become as cynical about church leaders as they are about political leaders.

    Keeping church and state separate is good for both sides.

  • http://mylongapostasy.blogspot.com ATL-Apostate

    I’m for personal liberty (McCain and Obama fail), equal opportunity without the expectation of equal results(Obama fails on the later half of this, McCain on the former), low taxes for everyone (yes, even those evil ‘rich’ folks who pay most of the income tax to begin with – Obama and McCain fail to different degrees on this one, although McCain has a slight advantage), and free markets (aka, capitalism, McCain and Obama both fail, can you say ‘bailout?’)

    For me, it’s a lose-lose situation. I don’t like either candidate based on what I value most. To top it all off, the Libertarian party has nominated Bob F’ing Barr. You’ve got to be kidding me!

    I really don’t care what either candidate says about religion because both parties have historically pandered to the religious.

    So there’s my 1.5 cents worth.

  • Daniel H.

    David D.G.,

    I know the pro-choice argument, depraved and disgusting though it is. I’m just pointing out that for those who reject it, it’s hard to find an issue or even several issues together that overshadow its importance.

    Oh, and my statements shouldn’t be taken to mean that I’m voting for McCain or that Christians necessarily should – there are other candidates who don’t support abortion.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/ElusiveAnole Matt

    Many factors go into my vote. I went into this open-minded and knowing I’d probably need to pick a lesser evil. I was right.
    A few of the negative factors I can think of off the top of my head:
    - Palin’s record on personal freedoms is scary; her feelings on “witchcraft” make me worry about Wiccan-Americans and their rights. They already face enough discrimination.
    - Palin wants to censor free speech. Her actions with Alaskan libraries makes that painfully evident.
    - Palin lacks the ability to honestly and directly answer questions. “What newspapers do you read?”, “Name a non-Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case.”
    - Palin’s views on birth control are appalling.
    - Palin is pro-Creationism in public schools; thinks Global Warming is not man-made and its not important to investigate the cause.
    - Palin is involved in many scandals and will answer to none (“Troopergate”, funneling tax payer money into her church, etc.)
    - Palin attracts racist crowds, Evangelical Christians and more idiots who think Obama is an Arab and/or a Muslim in disguise.
    - McCain’s health care plan is terrifyingly bad, information would be on the net and “your” privatized money goes straight to insurance companies and is taxed! Obama’s won’t do much to help and may cause high costs in those who pay a premium on their insurance.
    - McCain sold his soul to the far Christian right, going against his own words about combating extremists like Falwell. He’s in bed with Hagee’s and Parsley’s who bring a nasty pro-Israel and anti-Iran message.
    - Neither candidate is doing much to promote gay rights; neither is any different on immigrant rights. Both of which are big issues for me.
    - Third party candidates like Bob Barr are no better and their records are depressingly different than their current stances. And the fact that Obama and McCain won’t invite them to debate count for negative points for me.
    - Both voted yes on the bailout, perpetuating the nanny state for the rich and irresponsible.
    - Both candidates put Israel before the U.S.A.
    Some positives:
    + Obama wants out of Iraq.
    + Obama seems to have a grasp on reality; he respects other religions and philosophies different from his own.
    + Obama addresses minorities and understands the hardships facing them. He has been able to talk realistically about race in this country.
    + Obama will, indeed, piss off rednecks.
    + Obama has a more realistic foreign policy, without making enemy distinctions and warmongering statements that McCain has.
    + McCain *used* to be a respectable maverick. He also deserves respect for his sacrifice in Vietnam.

  • Elsin Ann Perry

    I’m voting for Obama because he says he’ll raise the FICA cap. And because he’s a lot smarter than I am.

    McCain made one of his rash decisions and picked Palin.

    That was breath-takingly irresponsible.

    What else would he surprise us with, as president?

    When it comes to religion, I imagine that almost all politicians have to pander to the religious. If they don’t, they probably won’t win. It’s sad, it’s stupid, but it’s the way it is now in this country.

  • http://goldmineguttd.livejournal.com Abbie

    I’m seriously of the opinion that anyone who is still planning to vote for McCain/Palin is either: a selfish bastard, racist, or a mindless fundy.

    The only sane argument I’m hearing against Obama is that he will raise taxes. If “wealth redistribution” is your biggest concern… and that, in your mind, outweighs all the negatives of a McCain/Palin presidency… then you are a selfish bastard.

    If that isn’t your issue, then you have to be either racist or a fundy. I’m not trying to be overdramatic, but that’s honestly the only three explanations I can think of. Either you don’t want to pay more taxes, you don’t want to vote for a black guy, or you think Sarah Palin isn’t batshit insane.

  • Autumnal Harvest

    As Daniel said, if you’re pro-life, it’s reasonable to be a single-issue voter. I’m not pro-life, but if I thought abortion was murder, it’s hard to think what other issues would be of comparable importance (except possibly war, which involves a similar number of lives). David, your objections to his analogy don’t make a lot of sense. If I thought we were killing hundreds of thousands of people a year, I would hardly by mollified by the fact that we are, in many other ways, very different from Nazi Germany—the one way in which we are similar would be enough to dominate my vote.

    I do, however, think that it’s not actually clear who an abortion single-issue voter should vote for. The chance of a repeal of Roe v. Wade, followed by overt criminalization of abortion in more than one or two states, is pretty much nil, regardless of which party is in power. Given that, I suspect that abortion rate is most likely to be lowered through sex education, condoms, good health care, etc. . .

  • Daniel H.

    I do, however, think that it’s not actually clear who an abortion single-issue voter should vote for.

    That, I agree with.
    On the one hand – any pro-life leaning laws congress passed would get vetoed by Obama and he is not going to appoint strict-constructionist judges.

    But, the President doesn’t have a direct impact on abortion anyway. The most we can do is hope that he appoints judges who have some decency and don’t pontificate precious and magical constitutional rights to kill babies.

    Voting for a pro-life President because he is pro-life is voting on a hope that might not be realized. But voting for a pro-choice president is giving up that hope. I mean, Bush is pro-life, and a lot of pro-lifers voted for him accordingly, but millions of babies are still being chopped up (it’s ok though because it is being done ‘safely’ and not in dark allies). I’m not planning on voting for McCain or Obama. I might vote 3rd party or not vote, but in any case I am not voting for someone who supports abortion, and can’t in good conscience.

  • SarahH

    I hear you, Daniel. If I held your beliefs about the definition of humanity and the ethics of abortion, I would probably be pretty close to a single-issue voter.

    However: as has been pointed out numerous times by secularists, killing innocents (or even risking killing innocents) seems wrong whether it’s a fetus or a middle-eastern civilian or a US soldier or a death-row inmate or someone unlucky enough to get cancer or another fatal disease but who doesn’t have the health insurance or money to pay for life-saving treatments.

    If you’re a utilitarian, I suppose you might make abortion the top priority issue, since arguably more deaths occur by that method than by the others, but I would have hard time deciding between a hawkish candidate like McCain (whose party also supports the death penalty strongly and certainly wouldn’t improve the situation much for poor families without heath insurance) and a pro-choice candidate like Obama (who supports abortion rights but would also arguably take strong measures to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies in the first place, such as doing away with abstinence only sex ed).

  • NeuroLover

    I’m socially liberal but economically pretty conservative. I would have liked to vote for the Libertarian candidate (what’s so bad about Barr, ATL-Apostate?), but I’m afraid enough of ending up living in a Hooverville that I couldn’t risk wasting my swing state vote and having Obama win. As much as I hate many of McCain’s positions, I think the economy is far and away the most important issue this year so I reluctantly selected him on my absentee ballot already.

    Also, I think it’s a sad reflection of our society when “selfish” is automatically paired with “bastard” as Abbie did. Read some Ayn Rand, people.

  • Daniel H.

    I’m confused as to why you put “a death-row inmate” in the category of “innocents” – but in any case I think we can agree that not all deaths/killings have the same moral quality. Even if both were wrong, killing in self-defense is a lot different than killing for fun.

    And, despite what I think about sex ed, what should the President have to do with it? He’s not a teacher, or a doctor, or a counselor. He’s a President. Sex ed isn’t his job whether it’s abstinence only or not. Perhaps one reason we have these problems every election cycle is that we want the President to have a say in everything – from the Iraqi government to Bank financing to sex ed to prescription medication to global weather to Alaskan caribou.

  • Vincent

    #1 end this damn war

    #2 don’t put another Scalia on the Supreme Court.

    #3 Sarah Palin scares the crap out of me.

    The list goes on and on, but those are probably the top 3.

  • Autumnal Harvest

    He’s not a teacher, or a doctor, or a counselor. He’s a President. Sex ed isn’t his job. . .

    Huh? You might as well say that the President’s views on farm subsidies are irrelevant, because he’s the President, not a farmer. The federal government has numerous programs in health, medicine, and education, and the President runs these programs. The current president’s views on sex education have had numerous well-known effects on these programs. It might be that you have some ideal view of the role of the federal government, in which sex ed would not be part of the President’s job, but at least for the forseeable future, it demonstrably is part of his job.

    Neurolover, I think it’s a sad reflection on our society when people suggest reading Ayn Rand. :)

  • Steven

    Canada has just finished it’s federal election and the result is…nothing changed. $300 million dollars of taxpayer money and we still have a minority Conservative government (no space for a primer on Canadian politics here but I encourage folks to look it up – we have five federal parties at the moment).
    I’m more than a little envious of my neighbours to the south. Your election is far more interesting and likely to result in interesting changes for better or worse depending on who wins.
    I would really like to see a withdrawal from the Middle East of both American and Canadian troops as I’m not convinced that this is the best use of either country’s military resources.

  • Jeff

    NeuroLover, I have to tell you that your post convinces me (and I’m familiar with Rand’s arguments, as well as her individual character) that Abbie is spot-on.

    (Although I’d add that in addition to being a selfish bastard, a racist or a mindless fundie, one could also be in a state of denial)

  • Daniel H.

    It might be that you have some ideal view of the role of the federal government, in which sex ed would not be part of the President’s job

    Ha, yeah that’s pretty much it I suppose. Someone needs to be idealistic for things to change…

  • Katsu

    Even if both were wrong, killing in self-defense is a lot different than killing for fun.

    I’m really hoping that you’re not implying that abortions are “killing for fun.” There are a lot of reasons women have them, but ‘because it’s a better time than eating a chocolate bar at the movies’ most certainly isn’t one of them.

    …and on to the main topic of the post.

    Basically, I’m a very socially liberal, and I think it would be lovely if the government weren’t a giant black hole for money. I used to be really financially conservative, but after spending time as an EMT in an extremely poverty stricken area, I can’t in good conscience put my desire for lower taxes ahead of the lives of people who aren’t as fortunate as me, let alone their kids, who are having their opportunities severely curtailed by the sad state of the public schools. I just wish Obama’s health care plan was more comprehensive. Also, with the current state of the economy, I think McCain must be smoking crack if he thinks the way to prevent another mess is less regulation. And the “drill, baby, drill” thing? I am so absolutely furious about it that words can’t describe. Pretending that offshore drilling is going to fix all of our problems is simply unconscionable.

    And Sarah Palin scares the hell out of me. This cannot possibly be emphasized enough.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com hoverFrog

    Steelman said:

    many in England don’t take religion very seriously (as evidenced by lack of church attendance, and the relative absence of declarations of faith among politicians). One of the reasons for this is that having the ruling monarch as head of the church, and bishops in parliament, has allowed the general populace to become as cynical about church leaders as they are about political leaders.

    Bishops don’t get into Parliament, they are appointed to the House of Lords. There are 24 Bishops and 2 Archbishops of the 732 members of the Upper House. It’s worth pointing out that the Lords do not make the law they only approve or veto the law made by the House of Commons. They act as a balance for the few insane policies that sneak out of the lower house from time to time (the 42 day anti terrorist detention thing being a prime example). Hereditary membership of the Lords is ending and each government (commons) appoints new members. Sometimes the Queen appoints someone but there are only two in the Lords who were appointed by the Crown.

    The Queen is little more than a figurehead. Royalty has had no real place in politics in the UK since George III turned out to be such a mad old idiot.

    I actually think the presence religious figures in the Lords can be an asset. Not only do we get to see them make really stupid and really public decisions that make anyone religious cringe but the men themselves are often very intelligent and do actually have their hearts in the right place. They mean well and have the courage to stand by their convictions. Not being elected means that the Lords don’t ever have to fear losing their jobs so they can work to control the Lower House that is much more fickle.

    You’re right about us not taking religion very seriously. I can’t think of a reason why we treat an impotent tradition handed down from the Iron Age seriously, not unless they start getting power and interfering with our way of life.

    They can talk all they like, there’s no law (not anymore) that says that anyone has to listen to them. In North America it seems to me that many people just don’t know that religion is optional.

  • Jeff

    Hereditary membership of the Lords is ending and each government (commons) appoints new members.

    I thought it had ended.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com hoverFrog

    There are still a few hereditary Lords. We’re waiting for them to die. :)

  • Larry Huffman

    I think it belittles the view of the pro-abortion person to disregard it as something that is not as important as they make it. it is very important to them. Their context of it is very different from ours. Look at it through their eyes…and this is how the average bible-belt housewife looks at it: to allow abortion at all means our nation is allowing the murder of babies. That simple. When you call it abortion…a medical procedure…it is not as emotionally charged. The people who oppose abortion, however, are picturing little infants being ripped apart by evil doctors. It is that drastic…and so, if you think thousands of babies are being murderd each month by your government…that is a big issue! That is reason enough to support someone.

    Do not misunderstand…I am very much pro-choice. You see…those of us who are pro-choice see it as a procedure for a woman to have, not the execution of a viable human being, as the anti- crowd do. That is why they are so overly passionate for the issue and we cannot understand why that one issue is enough to make a difference.

    Note: While I was a christian, I was anti-abortion as well…though it always bothered me to be so as an american. Anyway…I went to a convention sponsored by several anti-abortion standing religious groups. I suppose since it was not church it was not teaching fromt he pulpit…but the speakers were religious leaders and they did tell everyone quite bluntly that we had to rid the nation of abortion. Here is the scary part…at the time they were comparing the abortion clinic bombings to the acts of John Brown against slavery. They were very sincerely stating that the bombing of abortion clinics would lead to the end of abortion as John Brown’s actions ultimately precipitated the end of slavery. Nevermind that there was also a bloody civil war that transpired not in a small part due to Brown. But the comparison is accurate for them…and a bit scary to learn that they are willing to compare abortion to slavery in context of ending it…as if they would be willing to take to the battlefield. They were militant and they were sincere. At the time, my wife and left with an uneasy feeling about our fellow christians…we actually were talking about which people in the crowd were most likely to run out and bomb another clinic. And we were more serious than joking.

    All because of religion. If there was no discussion about a soul…no afterlife…no fairy in the sky watching our every deed…this would not be an issue at all.

  • Jeff

    There are still a few hereditary Lords. We’re waiting for them to die.

    Oh, I see. How does it work, practically? An hereditary peer who had been attending regularly can still attend and vote, but one who hadn’t been involved before, or who had been involved only sporadically, can’t? What if he/she voted once, then never showed up again? Can he still return at any point until he dies?

    I realize that an hereditary peer appointed now doesn’t have the right to sit in the House, but my understanding is that it’s moot, anyway, as the crown no longer awards hereditary honors (or honours) – only life peerages.

    The voluntary giving up of privilege. When was the last time we saw that here? Yet our system works so much better. Right.

  • SarahH

    Daniel:

    I put death row inmates in the category of “innocents” because we don’t know for sure if many of them are guilty. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Innocence Project, and there are literally hundreds of people in the US living normal lives now who were once sentenced to die for crimes they didn’t commit.

    One value that stuck with me from my days as a Christian was the idea that it isn’t our place to punish and avenge. Keeping people in jail with sufficient evidence to keep others safe is one thing; executing them is another. Without absolutely conclusive DNA or video footage of the crime, we’re gambling with the lives of these people to fulfill our own psychological desires.

  • Jeff

    I just read the article. It goes on to say that this woman is voting for McCain: “George Bush didn’t have enough experience, and look what happened. Obama has two years in the Senate and two years campaigning”

    So, whom will she blame next time around?

  • Jeff

    BTW, hoverFrog – the sarcasm in my post above is directed at us, not at you.

    My questions about the way the House of Lords works now were legitimate.

  • NeuroLover

    Why is it that we as a society are so terrible at perspective-taking? I find it pretty appalling that there are some people who take it upon themselves to so harshly judge others’ opinions without considering the hint of possibility that sane viewpoints other than their own can exist. As atheists we ought to be especially sensitive to this, as we’ve often experienced being demonized by religious groups. Fundamentalism in politics can be just as dangerous as in religion, so why should we excuse it? For people who are professedly all about being rational, we don’t always live up to our ideals.

  • Daniel H.

    I’m really hoping that you’re not implying that abortions are “killing for fun.” There are a lot of reasons women have them, but ‘because it’s a better time than eating a chocolate bar at the movies’ most certainly isn’t one of them.

    I wasn’t talking about abortion, I was thinking more of the binge killing of homeless people we’ve been hearing about in the news by 16-year old punks.

    However, judging by Doug Stanhope’s article to Bristol Palin (posted here a while back), eating a chocolate bar at the movies is exactly the kind of thing he thinks justifies abortion. Do you think abortion should be legal for ANY reason, including the freedom to have more fun? If so, your statement that “I’m really hoping that you’re not implying that abortions are ‘killing for fun’” holds no water. If not, why? Is the fetus a person that takes precedence over fun, or a mass of cells that really can’t be morally compared to a candy bar at the movies?

  • Jake

    To me it all rests on a single issue: the war in Iraq. I voted for Bush (twice-sorry) but now we know we were lied to about the reason for being there in the first place. Afghanistan is another story entirely. The war in Iraq is a wast of our resources—physical and human—and a waste of our capital—financial and political.

    We now know we are wrong for being there in the first place, and every day we are there more of our soldiers—our fellow citizens—die. We cannot say for certain what will happen in Iraq or the rest of the middle east if we pull our troops out today. What we can say for certain is that the longer we wait the more American soldiers will die.

    It’s more rational to vote based on something that definitely will happen versus the fear of something that may happen. Every day we stay in Iraq more soldiers definitely will die. You can’t say the same about any potential ramifications for leaving too soon. They are all conjecture.

    Barack Obama and John McCain differ on their timetables for leaving Iraq. McCain wants to be there longer. Therefore, he would rather accept the known consequences of more American soldiers dying than the unknown outcome of leaving sooner—which includes the possibility of nothing bad happening.

    Oh, plus I am a fiscal conservative and this war is just too damned expensive.

  • David D.G.

    Daniel H. wrote:

    I know the pro-choice argument, depraved and disgusting though it is.

    So, in your opinion, “the legal right of individual women to determine the fate of their own bodies” qualifies as “depraved and disgusting”? In that case, I consider your opinion to be depraved and disgusting.

    It is reprehensible that, in an advanced western nation in the 21st century, some people still hold the insane notion that the personal physical rights of a citizen should be suppressed in favor of her fetus (not “baby,” not “child,” but fetus), which has NO legal rights, and does not qualify for any.

    Heck, even the Bible does not condemn abortion as such, so it clearly does not consider abortion to qualify as murder (or “millions of babies … still being chopped up” as you so colorfully and mendaciously put it). The only biblical mention of abortion says merely to fine somebody who causes an abortion that occurs as the inadvertent result of an assault. There is NO condemnation of causing one on purpose — and I assure you, there were medicinal ways of inducing abortion even in ancient times.

    The anti-choice movement has no biblical support whatsoever, no legal support whatsoever, and certainly no rational support whatsoever. Its goal is nothing less than a return of women to the status of breeding livestock who have no say in what happens to their own bodies. THAT, sir, is “depraved and disgusting.”

    ~David D.G.

  • Daniel H.

    So, in your opinion, “the legal right of individual women to determine the fate of their own bodies” qualifies as “depraved and disgusting”? In that case, I consider your opinion to be depraved and disgusting.

    When “fate of their own bodies” means “killing a baby who has no say in the matter”, then yes, that’s what I’m saying. I still fail to see how relative comfort and convenience takes precedence over life, no matter how many euphemisms you spin it with.

    It is reprehensible that, in an advanced western nation in the 21st century, some people still hold the insane notion that the personal physical rights of a citizen should be suppressed in favor of her fetus (not “baby,” not “child,” but fetus), which has NO legal rights, and does not qualify for any.

    Actually they do have legal rights – in many states (perhaps all, I’m not sure), killing a pregnant woman can get someone 2 counts of murder. But that aside, a nation’s laws do not automatically reflect objective morality. See Nazi Germany, for instance. “Advanced” and “western” and “21st century” has as much to do with it as lawn clippings.

    Heck, even the Bible does not condemn abortion as such, so it clearly does not consider abortion to qualify as murder (or “millions of babies … still being chopped up” as you so colorfully and mendaciously put it).

    Actually the Bible does affirm the personhood of babies in the womb, on several occaisions, OT and NT. And it condemns murder. Most people can put two and two together. And “millions of babies…being chopped up” is perfectly accurate, colorful or not. Do you want statistics and pictures? because you will see numbers in the millions and pictures of severed limbs (which are perfectly recognizable as limbs).

    The only biblical mention of abortion says merely to fine somebody who causes an abortion that occurs as the inadvertent result of an assault. There is NO condemnation of causing one on purpose

    If an accidental abortion is punishable, I think it’s a fair inference that a purposeful abortion is that much more punishable.

    The anti-choice movement has no biblical support whatsoever, no legal support whatsoever, and certainly no rational support whatsoever. Its goal is nothing less than a return of women to the status of breeding livestock who have no say in what happens to their own bodies. THAT, sir, is “depraved and disgusting.”

    The issue is life an personhood, not “women”. Women happen to be the ones who give birth. Abortion would be just as awful if men were the ones having babies. You might as well say the goal of of the pro-choice movement is nothing less than to create a genderless society.

    And if this whole thing is about “women” and equal opportunity, do you not find it at all disturbing/ironic that many more girls are aborted than boys?

    Perhaps you should consider the fact that there are a lot of women out there (like, my mom…) who have neither killed their children nor are they “breeding livestock”. That whole dichotomy is, frankly, silly.

  • Steven

    Why do these things turn into pro-choice versus pro-life so quickly?
    Even the labels are linguistically loaded – “pro-life” sounds so positive, so morally good that opposing it somehow makes one “anti-life” and therefore – evil.
    “Pro-life” should really be “anti-choice”, “anti-autonomy”, “anti-respect” etc.
    In a better world, every child would be planned, wanted, loved – it is not a better world, at least not yet.
    In a highly controversial move, the Canadian government is awarding the Order of Canada (one of it’s highest honours) to Dr. Henry Morgentaller – a man who was instrumental in making safe, legal abortions available to Canadian women.
    Is he a hero? Definitely not in the conventional sense but I have to consider how many children were not delivered into lives of poverty, abuse, or plain neglect due to his efforts. Isn’t it more “pro-life” if the life you value most is the woman who is already here, not a few cells that may or may not become a person one day?

  • Daniel H.

    “Pro-choice” is equally loaded. But they have different references – “life” refers to the baby, “choice” refers to the mom. Both are trying to sound positive.

    I’d call killing rather abusive and neglectful, personally.

    One problem with this whole ‘a few cells” argument is that pro-choicers rarely if ever actually stop there. Abortion rights generally extend to the time of birth and at least up to or beyond viability. Partial-Birth bills have had to be contended over because of this.

  • Katsu

    However, judging by Doug Stanhope’s article to Bristol Palin (posted here a while back), eating a chocolate bar at the movies is exactly the kind of thing he thinks justifies abortion. Do you think abortion should be legal for ANY reason, including the freedom to have more fun? If so, your statement that “I’m really hoping that you’re not implying that abortions are ‘killing for fun’” holds no water. If not, why? Is the fetus a person that takes precedence over fun, or a mass of cells that really can’t be morally compared to a candy bar at the movies?

    Well, let’s take a look at this. First off, Doug Stanhope isn’t a woman and will never have an abortion himself, and frankly I thought his article was in incredibly poor taste. Abortion is not a comfortable topic to begin with, and after speaking with many people, I’ve found that there’s quite a range of comfort zones. So… we shall start at the base.

    I have found very few people who aren’t grinding a religious axe that believe abortion should be illegal in the case of incest, rape, if the health of the mother is at direct risk, or if the fetus is so extremely deformed that it will be incapable of surviving for more than a few days outside of the womb. When we’re talking health of the mother, if we’re going to assume that a fetus is a person, then we’re making the uncomfortable decision of ending the life of one to save the other, or simply letting them both die. When we’re talking rape and incest, frankly, I think anyone callous enough to force a woman to bear the child of someone who has done extreme violence to her if the woman doesn’t want to is in effect doing a second violence to someone who is a blameless victim. And In the final case, where the fetus is inviable, frankly, I think it’s base cruelty to force a woman to bear a child to term if she doesn’t want to and possibly put her health at risk doing so.

    Outside of those cases are where the disagreement becomes much more severe. In all frankness, I have friends who have had abortions, and I watched them tear themselves apart over the decision. I have no doubt that there are women who do choose such an alternative frivolously; there are going to be people who respond with what others consider to be insufficient gravity to any serious life choice. But to boil the entire question of abortion down to “fun” does an extreme disservice to most women who face that decision and the circumstances that they are in. While I’m certain you and many others would disagree with me here, I feel that the current attitude often in effect makes an unplanned and unwanted child into a punishment, and I think that is so incredibly unfair to the child and the life that they will eventually have that I cannot even begin to express my utter distress at the thought. Even further since the government of America has little interest in the welfare of its most vulnerable citizens once they are born.

    So then this is the problem. I believe that we should have the right to control what goes on with our own bodies when medically possible. And I believe that for the most part, women are adult human beings who are capable of making their own decisions, and understanding what they must do to keep themselves and their families in a healthy state. Again, there will be exceptions for this. But unless we’re proposing to set up some kind of review board to decide if a woman’s thought about her decision enough and isn’t just doing it for fun (and boy, let’s talk about undue burdens) then one will be forced to accept that either there will be some thoughtless jerks doing things that many of us find morally reprehensible, or we will, as a society, be making victims of a lot of women and children.

    All of that aside, from an ethical standpoint, I have yet to be convinced that a fetus has some special right of control over the body of a woman who has already been born.

  • Autumnal Harvest

    David G:

    The only biblical mention of abortion says merely to fine somebody who causes an abortion that occurs as the inadvertent result of an assault. There is NO condemnation of causing one on purpose

    Daniel H:

    If an accidental abortion is punishable, I think it’s a fair inference that a purposeful abortion is that much more punishable.

    I suppose, that makes sense, if you’re really, really, really bad at drawing inferences. It’s not an “accidental abortion” versus a “purposeful abortion,” as you put it. The Bible is referring to an accidentally causing a woman to have an abortion, when she doesn’t want one. That’s illegal today, and usually punished much more harshly than a fine.

    You’re free to think that a fetus is a person, but there’s no support for that in the Bible.

  • http://www.otmatheist.com/ hoverFrog

    Jeff, basically you’re right. The old hereditary system of peers is gone but there are still some peers who gained their position by inheritance (like the Queen). I get the point about the American system being flawed but I also agree that our British system is flawed too. Any system of government is essentially an experiment. What might work for centuries can be demonstrated as being awfully backward from time to time.

    I remember an episode of The West Wing (that’s where I gain my entire understanding of US politics) where Toby Zeigler tries to argue another nation’s leader out of copying the American system of two houses. That show was genius.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    My single reason to vote Dem (well, I’d never vote for a Republican) but I think there is a single issue in this election: and that’s to keep more right-wing idiots out of the Supreme Court.

  • NeuroLover

    For those of you incapable of conceiving of people who disagree with you as intelligent, please watch this video… http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jonathan_haidt_on_the_moral_mind.html

  • http://mypantstheatre.blogspot.com bullet

    I have other issues, but I only need one.

    Windfall Profits Tax.

    As long as he continues in his delusion that he can keep big companies from making money and not hurt anyone by trying, Obama will not have my vote.

  • NeuroLover

    Hooray, bullet! Glad someone else agrees with me :)


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