The attacks on Planned Parenthood show how religion harms America

The attacks on Planned Parenthood show how religion harms America September 28, 2015

anti choice protestors

I’m an atheist who is happy to work with religious allies to find common ground and I also have no issue calling out my fellow atheists when they are being ignorant. However, there are times when religious privilege and religious harm are so explicit that I can’t hold anything back. The fact that congress is trying to defund Planned Parenthood is a great example of how religion can harm our society.

Let’s briefly address why Planned Parenthood is so important and why it is absurd to defund it. Planned Parenthood provides affordable health care services to women and men all across the United States. The bulk of these services consist of health screenings, STD testing, and sexual education. Yes, about 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services are for abortion; however, the vast majority of their services are intended to decrease abortions as studies show that increasing sexual education and access to birth control lowers unwanted pregnancies. Furthermore, Planned Parenthood receives zero public funding for abortions! However, because a small part of Planned Parenthood’s services do involve abortion, it provides a rallying cry for certain religious groups.

Anti-choice Christians are a very loud and dangerous group in America. You can see them protesting and harassing women outside Planned Parenthoods throughout America and some of the extremists have been known to murder abortion doctors. Importantly, these anti-choicers are not holding up Jeb Bush signs, they are holding up crosses and bibles. They believe that god is judging them favorably for trying to take away women’s rights. Yes, obviously this is a complicated social issue and many variables are in play. However, religion definitely plays a significant role in facilitating these atrocities as religious people are rewarded for their ignorance and bigotry.

Thus, having an overly accommodationist approach with religion can be very problematic. When theists and atheists alike think that “people should just be able to believe what they want to believe” they are ignoring how certain beliefs actively harm others. The warm and fuzzy statements from accommodationists sound nice, but they often come from a place of enormous privilege. For example, if you are a straight man, then Christians are not trying to take away access to your health services or your right to get married. It’s much easier to think “people should just be able to believe what they want to believe” when your rights are not being stolen from you.

 

We’ll see what happens with Planned Parenthood soon, but the fact remains that religion (especially Christianity) has often been used as a vehicle to promote bigotry and we are seeing it right now with Planned Parenthood. Yes, not all Christians are anti-women, anti-gay, etc, but too many of them are. Furthermore, if there are so many good Christians, why are they not calling out the bigotry of their fellow Christians? Why don’t they try to reason with them within their own religious teachings? There are some religious groups doing this like the awesome Catholics for Choice organization; however, it’s not nearly enough given how many “liberal” Christians there are in America. Religion isn’t going away anytime soon and progressive theists and atheists alike need to fight against these beliefs that cause harm for so many people in our society.


Featured image from Feminspire

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