A Welcome for New Readers

Monday’s post on losing faith in the pro-life movement went viral, so I’d like to give a little bit of orientation for new readers. First of all, if you’re new here, welcome! If you read my post and are at all confused about where I now stand on the abortion issue, take a look at my page on women’s reproductive rights. Next, I would encourage you to read my “about” page.

As a brief introduction, I was raised in a large homeschooling family influenced by the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements. I grew up an evangelical Christian, though with some fundamentalist aspects. I found my beliefs challenged in college and am today an atheist and a feminist. I am in my mid-twenties, married to a wonderful man named Sean, and busily raising young children, Sally and Bobby. I am also in graduate school getting my Ph.D. in a humanities field.

I began blogging a year and a half ago as a way to think through the changes in my life. I blog about growing up evangelical and then losing my faith, about the effects of being raised in the “purity culture” complete with courtship and purity rings, about reinventing how I raise my children after being raised on highly authoritarian discipline methods, about finding myself as a person and an individual after growing up believing that my sole role in life was to be a wife and mother, and about rethinking the Christian Right politics of my youth. Sometimes I also blog about my thoughts on homeschooling. If you want to know more, I encourage you to explore the tabs below my banner; you will find a wealth of information and links to both key posts and additional resources.

I have also put together a number of ongoing projects. My Raised Quiverfull project featured the stories of thirteen young adults who were raised in families influenced by the Quiverfull movement, and my ongoing Raised Evangelical project involves the stories of adults who were raised in evangelical families and churches. My purity rings series brings together young women reflecting on their experience as the wearers of purity rings, and my homeschool reflections series will begin in January. I am also currently in the middle of a page-by-page review of Debi Pearl’s Created To Be His Help Meet, a patriarchal, fundamentalist marriage advice manual for women. I put up a new installment weekly on Fridays. I intend to review other books in this way in the future. Finally, I have an ongoing project in which I put up an argument against abortion and ask for discussion on the topic, and then attach what I consider to be the best comments to the end of the post. This project is still in its early stages.

If you’re just here because you liked my article on the pro-life movement, I’d invite you to stick around because I have several followup posts already planned and in the works, including posts tentatively called “Pro-Life, Anti-Abortion, or Anti-Choice? Sorting through the Labels,” “What Being Pro-Life Would Look Like,” and “Science, Young Earth Creationism, and the Pro-Life Movement.”

If you like what you’ve seen and you’re planning on sticking around, feel free to take a look at my commenting policy. You are very much invited to engage, and I think you will find my blog’s commenter community to be welcoming, intelligent, and always thought-provoking. Finally, a look at my site’s right sidebar will give you links for subscribing to my RSS feed, subscribing to my blog via email, and following me on twitter.

And once again, welcome!

Libby Anne

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • machintelligence

    Congratulations again Libby Anne. 100,000 views in two days —just WOW!
    You might want to advise new commenters not to refer to previous comments by number as they are not fixed and change as replies are added to the thread above them.
    You might also tell them that to find the earlier 444 comments, they should go to the end of the thread to click on the link to older comments.

  • Christine Peterson Sharkey

    Thank you for the thorough & interesting blog re the pro-life movement

  • picklefactory

    Libby Anne, you knocked it out of the park; if a post ever deserved to go viral it was that one. :)

  • picklefactory

    I think you reached many more pro-life / on-the-fence people here at Patheos than you would have at FtB, just because of this site’s intersectionality. All of these pro-life people popping up in the comments are not doing their cause any favors, either. Insofar as they can be said to have any arguments, they’re just terrible.

    • lucrezaborgia

      I know, right? It’s absurd some of the arguments they come up with as if Libby or other people have never thought of them before. The ones that drive me craziest are the people who think that adoption if THE PERFECT solution to abortion…because it’s just so easy to carry a fetus for 9 months and then hand it over to strangers? Not enough infants for infertile people to adopt? How is that my or any other women’s problem? Adopt a child in foster care! Oh wait…that would keep them from living the “as if born to” fantasy that is perpetuated by the altered birth certificate. Can’t have that!

      • anonymous

        No, it’s not easy to carry a baby for 9 months and place your child with another family. I did it 16 years ago and it was the hardest thing I’d ever done, or will do, in my life. But my daughter is a beautiful, smart, sweet & gifted young woman with alot of life ahead of her… and I know she is grateful to have the oppurtunity to live it. I’m not trying to glorify myself at all, but I think it really comes down to being selfish – or selfless. Taking responsibility for our actions is part of integrity – and often involves putting others above ourselves… as in this case, allowing an innocent person to have a chance to live their life.

      • picklefactory

        Oh no, they’re leaking into this thread, too!

        Libby Anne, your series about collecting anti-abortion arguments the other week — I think you’ve actually got The Mother Lode over there. Criminy.

      • lucrezaborgia

        Hey anon…not all birth mothers are thrilled about their choice and many of them feel that being in a tough spot wasn’t a good enough reason to hand over their baby:


      • KarenH

        Anon, it’s not always such an easy decision as “selfish/selfless”. As Libby Anne mentioned in the viral post, the majority of women seeking an abortion already have a child. I was already aware of that, as a woman who had a 9 year old child when I had my abortion. And before you dismiss me as a callous, uncaring non-mother, let me assure that never was a baby as wanted as the child I aborted. I wanted to carry that pregnancy to term very very much. But the reason my ex and I were using birth control were because we really and truly could not afford another child; we were in dreadful financial circumstances at the time. And just a few days before learning I was pregnant, we had separated. So our living, breathing, sentient and old enough to know Mom is pregnant once she starts showing child was already dealing with the crushing blow of his family disintegrating before his eyes.

        Adoption was simply out of the question. There was no possible way we were going to THEN subject a grieving 9 year old to the agony of giving his sibling away. Perhaps you think my abortion was murder. I do not. I do not believe that the collection of cells, as beloved as they were, took a precedence over the living actual human child before me. I did not then; I don’t now. Giving birth–even giving the child for adoption–would have been ultimately far more selfish than selfless because it would have added to the agony my 9 year old was already feeling. I absolutely put him first. I would do it again in the same circumstances. I would never have caused my 9 year old more pain just so I could self-aggrandize myself as “selfless”.

      • Anonymous

        @anonymous at 6: That’s nice that giving your kid up for adoption worked for you. Given the much higher rates of depression and suicide among birth mothers than women who get abortions, though, it clearly doesn’t for reasons that go beyond merely “not being responsible.” And there’s nothing necessarily irresponsible about abortion, either. Adoption is a solution to an unwanted child, but not an unwanted pregnancy; that can only be stopped by abortion!

      • Anonymous

        *it clearly doesn’t for a lot of women

  • Lizzie

    Totally loved your article on losing your faith in the pro-life movement. Excited to see what you have to come.

  • lucrezaborgia

    I feel like a hipster after seeing that blog entry go viral on FB. “Well duh she’s a great writer, I’ve only been sharing her blog posts for a year now…”

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      I love you too, Lucrezia!

    • Paula G V aka Yukimi

      Lol, yeah. I recommended her blog in Secular Women when they asked for blog recommendations and now they are posting her articles in their member private section. Nice!

  • http://www.texannewyorker.com jwall915

    Congrats on a post going viral! It was a fantastic post, and you really articulated some of the questions I had as a child being raised in a fundamentalist, pro-life church and extended family. Since Sunday I’ve been dealing with being in the middle of Hurricane Sandy, so I’ve been reading your blog posts and discussing them with my husband to give us a reprieve from the depressing news coverage and the state of our neighborhood, plus the fact that we can’t work right now. As an aside, I am safe and my house/car are not harmed; I got really lucky personally. Keep up the great work!

  • Niemand

    I’m not sure your poor server can take much more of this, but congratulations!

  • machintelligence

    Could you let us know when you hit 250,000 page views?

  • http://claudiaolivos.com claudia

    Dear Libby Anne, Congrats on thelosing faith in the ‘pro life’ movement! I too feel the same as you.
    HOWEVER… I found you today when researching/looking for answers (*again*) in regards to my conditional “unconditional love” parenting…. WOW. Thank you.
    It helps so very much with my pain to not feel alone in this…. I have read many books (among them Toxic Parenting, Creating Love, Coming Home, Will I ever be Good enough…and more)-YET, none were specific to the fundamentalist issue.
    Thank you SO much for all you do!

    Much love & light,

  • picklefactory

    That post is going to get drive-by trolls for MONTHS.

  • sylvia

    Found your blog through that post; I’ve already bookmarked it. Can’t wait to read more!

  • Sarah

    Wow, Libby Anne, congrats on that post! Both on it going viral, and summing up the inconsstencies in the arguments, using their own assumptions, reasoning and data. Hopefully besides the people commenting who didn’t read it there were many more who did and will rethink their actions, or use yours ans Sarah’s arguments in conversation with others.

    I was astounded by Sarah’s calculation, Id never even attempted to hold the religious viewpoint in my head for long enough to take it to the logical conclusion, but it’s undeniable .

    Congrats again, and commiserations on wading through the comment thread. How did it go viral? Who linked it?

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  • Godlesspanther

    Libby Anne, I will make a point of making more frequent comments on you excellent blog.

    You helped me out before, I was confused about the how the rapture ideology functions, and you pointed me to your very good articles on the subject. The writing along with the visual aids really helped me understand that the whole rapture thing is much more convoluted and confusing than I though it was.

    Thank you.

  • Dawn

    I want to follow you on facebook! You need a page for your blog!!! Amazing, just amazing!

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  • Marta L.

    Well, I’m newish – I found you before the abortion post (Dan Fincke sent me your way, in case you’re interested) but I can’t claim to be a longtime reader. I plan on hanging around until I get to that point though. :-)

    You say that you grew up evangelical but with some fundamentalist elements. That phrasing suggests to me that you see the two as distinct entities. I do too, but often the words are used interchangeably. So if you’re interested, I thought it might be interesting to read a blog post or too about what you think the difference is, why people use those terms in the same way, things along those lines.

  • MommyAlice

    My wonderful niece, Laura, posted your viral blog on facebook. I have had so many thoughts in response to your article, that I will have to start a blog to say them all. Your post is evidence, first, of your intelligence I am glad you are pursuing a PhD…your brilliance and wonderful writing has already started to change people’s thinking…second, it is proof of the effect of a logical mind applied to societal problems, third,your restraint, as evidenced by your not trying to place blame or explain the origins of anti-abortion thinking. I thank you for your courage, not only to investigate issues that were taboo for you growing up, but for using your scientific mind in a religious culture that does not trust science.

  • http://annogus.tumblr.com Anna

    oho my god! New reader. Terribly excited for your “help meet” analysis. I was definitely given that book by my almost mother in law a few years ago. Thank heavens that didn’t end up working out.

  • Sherry

    Libby–I appreciate your thoughtfulness about so many issues related to families and would like you to think about another couple of things: (1) the unintended pregnancy rate in the US did not go down following the introduction of oral contraceptives, and (2) many of our current problems would be improved or eliminated if women could stop believing its better to be a man! Separating sex from procreation is something men have been keen on for millennia–now modern women can use men for sex with no consequences too. What progress! I, for one, think not.

  • David Burress

    For a book on antiabortion violence, I am interested in observations on the motivations and state of mind of rank-and-file active demonstrators. I assume nearly all of them are personally nonviolent, but they are more militant than passive supporters who identify as pro-life, and hence may tend to represent a kind of intermediate case between violence and anti-violence. Also they are different from organization leaders in that they have no career investment in the movement and hence might be more intellectually honest. Libby Anne, I would be very interested in your experiences in observing and talking with demonstrators. Could you comment?

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      I grew up in a town without an abortion provider, so I actually have no experience with abortion protesters. Sorry!

  • KimSC

    Libby Anne, I am blown away. Your article was well written and spot on. I agree with every word of it. My mother was a full generation older that most of my friends parents. She grew up in the 30′s 40′ and 50″ as really saw what women were dealing with. I have her perspective. I have always been ProChoice. I now actually call it ProLifeChoice. I would not at this stage in my life have an abortion but I can not in good conscience expect or prevent anyone from doing so. I have been outlining an essay about some of the things “ProLifers” should be doing but are not. It seems to be a lot of talk and not a lot of meaningful action. It is not what happens after they change someones mind. It’s what comes next. I will be marking your site as a favorite. I see great things in your future!

    • angelgal3776

      KimSC – I very much enjoy your label – it’s more about being supportive of others being able to make their own choices (especially my own children, which includes a daughter just a year away from being considered an adult) than it is about what I consider moral or immoral. I’ve always stood by my stance (as I was once asked in a phone poll) that I’m pro-choice for others, and pro-life for myself. Because when I got pregnant (at 19, no less, and went on to marry the father of that child, then again at 28, with the same father), I wasn’t going to end that life. To me, that MEANT SOMETHING. And I insist upon my own choice to not have another – that, however, does not mean I’ll have an abortion. But, see, the key thing is – I’M MAKING THAT CHOICE! And I wish for other women to have that same ability, whether I agree with their choice (which I want to only be the best for them, not my views on what is right or wrong), or not. That being said – I don’t believe that life starts at conception – there are too many possible directions it could go after, so….that’s a silly place to mark it. Birth makes way more sense – because then you know!

      And I want to say to Libby – wonderful article. Yes, the ProLife one is what brought me here, but considering all of your lovely research, and how well you thought out where you stand and why, I look forward to more. I didn’t go just by research, but what made sense, in coming to my position, but I love what you have done! Kudos!

  • Ann Edwards

    Hi thanks for your article. There are more than just 2 opposing views. Eg: I am pro contraception. I believe life begins at conception. I believe abortion is a sad result of an anti woman and anti child society. Legal and illegal abortions cause awful problems. Unwanted pregnancies cause awful problems. There is no perfect world and no black and white solutions. In an ideal world every woman would be able to raise her children the way she wants. I am pro life in that I would like every fetus to have a chance at a good life. But I do not embrace every single belief of the pro life movement that you described.

  • daffodil_fox

    Thank you so much, Libby Anne, you are one of those people who allow me to keep faith in humanity. I admire your courage and resilience, which you must have needed to come such a long way from being raised according to principles you don’t now agree with and to speak loudly and openly about this. I am a Christian, a catholic to be exact, but I am also a feminist, I believe that birth control should be available to every woman, that diversity of ways of expression of being a human is a wonderful thing, to be celebrated rather than feared, and that coercion and initiating violence against others are never the right choice. Because of these beliefs I am seen as a heretic by many fundamentalist Christians around me. I learned not to care, as I try to live my life according to what I really believe in – being guided by love and respecting everyone’s right to freedom. Thank you for your courage in standing up for what you believe in. :)

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