Dear Evangelicals: Stop Talking about a “Culture of Death”

Dear Evangelicals: Stop Talking about a “Culture of Death” June 21, 2012

I am pro-choice.

Clearly reprobate, loveless murderers.

I don’t revel in death. I don’t advocate for it. I don’t long for it, idolize it, wait for it, or dwell on it. I have loved people who have died. They are perpetually in my thoughts. But not because of their deaths – because of their lives.

So quit telling me that I’m part of a culture of death.

What follows is a response to this article on Christianity Today:
Why We Should Reexamine the Faith of Barack Obama

First of all, can we, as a nation, ever stop reexamining the faith of Barack Obama? We know who he is. We know he is a Christian. We know that no organization in America has the authority to tell a Christian he isn’t a Christian – we’re not in the practice of burning heretics here. And we know that’s he’s pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, and pro-health care. We also know that he actually got us out of Iraq. He presided over the death of Osama bin Laden, which may have saved thousands of lives. Reexamining his faith (like we do every Tuesday, apparently) does not tell us anything about him we don’t already know.

After this, they all got up and drowned a blind veteran and a puppy.

Furthermore, the idea that this article reexamines faith at all is laughable. Reexamination involves being open to the possibility that your current viewpoint is wrong. The author, Owen Strachan, is so closed off from the possibility that someone who differs from him on political and social issues can be a “true Christian” that he’s not even bothering to examine Obama’s faith in the first place. He’s simply asserting that because it doesn’t look like his, the President doesn’t have any.

Strachan accuses Obama of the following:

-Validating other religions. (Because God is very particular about what you call him.)

-Prioritizing living by values over worship. (Because it’s better to be a psychopath who goes to church than a humanitarian who doesn’t.)

-Being insufficiently supernaturalist. (Because people who believe there’s only one life are definitely opposed to making it a good one.)

-Believing in “Christ for a generation that has baptized doubt as a virtue and questioning as an imperative.” (Because doubting and asking questions is something the apostles never did.)

-Refusing to accept the Republican postmodern evangelical doctrine of life at conception. (Because God was just waiting until the 1980s to reveal that crucial piece of information to his chosen people.)

-“Faith as construed by the President gives no offense and draws no boundaries.” (Because faith is all about building walls and excluding people!)

-Being inspired by “liberal Protestant theology.” (Which is apparently not Christian?)

The article also contains these ridiculous, emotional diatribes:

What is missing from his theology is nothing other than the gospel, the message of God-given righteousness grounded in the cross of Christ that when received by faith and repentance runs roughshod over a sinner, transforming a ward of Satan into an angel of light.

The only Bible verse that explicitly mentions an “angel of light” is this one: And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. -2 Corinthians 11:14.  This is not a description of the “saved,” sir.

He continues:

How can a man who shows such charm toward his wife help to destroy the foundational institution of human society? How can a man who so clearly loves his adorable daughters stand on the floor of the Illinois senate and declaim the right to life of a child who, against the terrible odds only a womb-bloodying scalpel can produce, miraculously survives an abortion? Saving faith creates a relentless desire in the name of Christ to heal the wounded, restore the weak, and defend tiny fetuses that kick and spin and wave their miniscule arms when they hear their parents’ voices.

Problems with this paragraph:

  1. Refusing to acknowledge that the “charm” Barack Obama shows Michelle is actual love. (Democrats and gingers have no souls.)
  2. Failing to demonstrate how supporting same sex marriage actually impacts Michelle negatively. (She isn’t an institution, so why should she care?)
  3. Failing to grasp that one can be pro-choice and love one’s children without the slightest conflict. (I like puppies and eat hamburgers, too.)
  4. Not realizing that wombs are always bloody places. It’s part of how they work. (Especially when giving birth.)
  5. Not mentioning women at all in this diatribe about abortion, as though babies are grown in glass canisters and pro-choice people like to smash them for fun. (Iconoclasm!)
  6. Conflating fetal kicking with voluntary movements and emotions. Even infants cannot control their limbs voluntarily until months after birth.
  7. Imputing “defending tiny fetuses” to Jesus, who did no such thing. Jesus never even talked about fetuses. He defended women, though.

Strachan concludes:

I do not write this with politically-driven glee. I write it in sorrow, because I am all too aware of the deceptive nature of depravity.

Of course you do. That’s what fundamentalist preachers always say after their hateful rants. “Really, guys, this just makes me sad.” You know who else is sad? People who can’t express their faith without being flogged by the evangelical police. Christians who are told they aren’t Christians. Muslims who are told they aren’t Muslims. Jews who are told they’re traitors to their faith. Girls who are raised to believe that God wants them to live in a smaller world than their brothers.

Also, this kind of sanctimonious assertion of sorrow sounds exactly like the words of an abusive spouse. “I hate to do this to you; why can’t you stop doing things that make me so angry? I’m sorry you’re so inept. I’m just trying to help you.”

Belligerent pumpkin disapproves of your lifestyle.

Now, back to the point of all this.

This, then, is why evangelicals come away so confused from the President’s faith-friendly speeches. He sometimes sounds the thrilling chords of the gospel of life, but his policies smack of the culture of death.

Really? Which policies? The policies that got us out of an endless, pointless, bloody war? The policies that try to ensure that everyone in America can afford medicine and hospital care when they’re sick? The policies that led to the execution of a mass murderer? The policies that ended torture at Guantanamo Bay? The policies that enable same-sex partners to hold their loved ones’ hands in the hospital?

Oh, right, the only policies that matter involve abortion.

There is a problem in this country’s discourse about morality. That problem is tribalism: the inability of evangelical Christians to accept that people “in the world” are capable of morality and faith. The inability of evangelical Christians to admit that God might be bigger than their little social dominionist program.  Owen Strachan, you are part of this problem. You doubt Obama’s faith on political grounds. Not religious ones, unless the sum total of your religion is policing sexuality and forcing women to give birth against their will. Christians can disagree with you on same-sex marriage and abortion. They can and do. Even Catholics. Even evangelicals.

There is no culture of death.

Even these people don’t want to actually kill anyone. They just enjoy the terrified glances from fundamentalists.

That kind of language starts wars. That kind of language dehumanizes. That kind of language spawns crusades – nasty, ugly, bloody, pillaging crusades. And this is why I can’t take anyone who assumes the “pro-life” label seriously. Not because of guns, or capital punishment. Not even because of war. Because of this:

When you call yourself pro-life, you start to actually believe that there are people who are anti-life.

That is malicious, idiotic, and wrong.

At that moment, you have ceased to see your opponents as human beings. You have closed your mind. You have refused, categorically, to believe in the morality or faith or even basic empathy of a person who disagrees with you. You have become, in short, a terrorist. And yes, I do mean that word. Terrorists are the ones who blow up abortion providers’ clinics and shoot them in church. Terrorists are the ones who force children to bear their rapists’ children and be thankful about it. Terrorists are the ones who shame women into jamming filthy metal rods up their vaginas to avoid acknowledging that they want an abortion. If there is a culture of death in this country, it isn’t mine or Obama’s. It’s the one that causes gay teenagers to kill themselves. It’s the one that thinks “trans panic” is an excuse to kill people. It’s the one that blames women for being raped. It’s the one that revels in sending people to hell.

But you see, I don’t believe there is a culture of death. There’s a culture of abuse, but it’s perpetuated not by salivating death-mongers but by people who honestly think their simple commandments apply to everybody. People who think they’re helping. People who actually believe they’re pro-life.

I reject the pro-life label not because it “sounds better” than pro-choice. I reject it because I am pro-life. Every human being is. Survival is wired into us. We love living. We only crave death when life has failed us. I believe that abortion saves lives, improves the quality of lives, protects living children from poverty, protects potential children from abuse, neglect, disease and starvation. I believe that abortion gives women the chance to live despite their circumstances, which in many cases involve rape, coerced marriage and control.

Go ahead, tell me I “don’t like people.” Enjoy your sound-proof box filled with self-concocted fantasies. Then come back out and explain to me why you don’t believe all Americans – indeed all people – should have access to health care regardless of their income. Come back out and tell me why you hate Muslims and gay people. Come back out here and tell me why you hate me and I don’t hate you. I believe you’re mistaken. You believe I’m a murderer.

Disagree with me if you must, but don’t do it based on the assumption that I hate life. That’s just stupid. Do it because you think I’m a caring human being who can be persuaded, because we both have the same goals: to make life better for everyone.

After all, don’t you like people?

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