Timothy George courageously preaches to choir, milks applause

Timothy George courageously preaches to choir, milks applause January 20, 2012

Alan Bean of Friends of Justice has a fine rant on Manhattan Declaration co-author Timothy George’s recent attempt to pretend to himself and others that he’s in the vanguard of some courageous and righteous movement.

Bean asks: “Does it take courage to be pro-life and anti-gay in Baptist Alabama?

This is NOT Timothy George.

Timothy George stirred a bit of excitement in 2009, when, in collaboration with luminaries like Charles Colson, he published a Manhattan Declaration, subtitled as “a call of Christian conscience.” With a prison reformer like Colson on board, you might expect the declaration to touch, however briefly, on the shame of mass incarceration. But no, the only topics deemed worthy of discussion were (you guessed it) abortion, gay marriage, and the purported persecution of the American Church.

Now, professor George is claiming that the 500,000 signatories to his bold confession are akin to the German churchmen who signed the Barmen Declaration opposing Hitler in the darkest days of the Third Reich.

Pardon me if I wince in embarrassment. … This takes courage?

… What would happen if Timothy George decided, following a crisis of conscience, that he was in favor of gay rights?

You know what would happen. He would lose his job before nightfall.

What happens when Timothy George portrays “the homosexual agenda” as a threat to heterosexual agenda? A standing ovation.

I don’t think George has to worry about such a crisis of conscience. The silly man is pretending he’s Bonhoeffer and that everyone who disagrees with him must be you-know-who. People who delude themselves with that kind of self-congratulatory nonsense are shouting too loudly to hear whatever their conscience might be screaming.

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  • Anonymous

    And related, it’s rare a single image can sum up so much of what went wrong in American Christianity. But this painting does, 
    http://www.christcenteredmall.com/stores/art/greene/the_senior_partner.htm , and it got turned into an even worse framed print, 
    http://www.christianbook.com/unending-riches-framed-print/pd/92215X?event=AFF&p=1138622#curr

  • Lori

    Holy crap!

  • Kim

    1. Buy print.
    2. Buy little plaque.
    3. Engrave “Matthew 19:16-30” on plaque.
    4. Hang it beneath picture.
    5. Maximum trolling achieved.

  • Anonymous

    You deserve all my applause and all my Likes for this.

  • Anonymous

    Pretty sure that’s been done.

  • P J Evans

     It only makes sense if those businessmen are running a,em>good,/em> charity. Otherwise I’m with Lori.

  • P J Evans

    Aw @#$%^&*(), screwed up my HTML.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I guess we’re getting into “No True Pro Lifer” again. Although your qualification of “hard core pro lifer” helps.

    As it happens, I know quite a number of pro-lifers (as in opposed to our current laws re abortion) who are also active in the disability community, both through direct, ongoing assistance and political activism for greater social support for people with disability. Several have a severe disability of one form or other themselves.

  • Nathaniel

    Get back to me when those sorts of people start running the “pro-life” movement. In other words, when they start mattering in politics.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Well, they are all heavily involved in the pro-life movement. But in Australia, where a candidate’s views on abortion almost never come up during elections.

    Are you saying that someone only counts as a pro-lifer if they are actively involved in a virulent campaign to make abortion a divisive partisan issue?

  • FangsFirst

    I only liked the HTML comment because I keep doing that (I’m just able to edit, so I hide it…)

  • Rikalous

    From Futurama:

    Candidate 1: It’s time that someone had the courage to say “I hate the things that everyone hates!”

    Candidate 2, a clone of Candidate 1 or vice versa: My opponent is soft on the things that everyone hates!

  • Anonymous

    Obviously, most pro-lifers aren’t that bad.  But I’ve been among the hard-core types (and even been one of them!), and there’s a frightening degree of correlation between a “no-exceptions” viewpoint and a shocking lack of concern about such “passive killers” as poverty, discrimination, and poor education.

  • Anonymous

    No, but the ones who are actually involved in abortion-related politics tend to be the hardcore fringe.  In other words, the really dangerous, crazy ones are more public, more visible, and have a disproportionate amount of power compared to the average, sane pro-lifer.

  • Anonymous

    They just care about making sure that they are not actively killed in any way. … And, it appears that they’re quite alright with people refusing their
    bodies to other humans in other conditions or with natural abortions,
    but it’s the active part that they mind.

    Except for capitol punishment. And war is OK too.

  • Anonymous

    Funny how only women are responsible for sex. Even if she is raped, drugged or is 9 years old.

  • Kim

    The distinction being made is that the fetus is an innocent life and that capital punishment is punishment for wrongdoing, and similarly, soldiers understand and accept the risks. If all men have the right to be free, what are prisons? Mass violations of people’s rights, or the consequences of violating the laws of society? The point is that everyone begins life/conception with a right to life, and that through their own decisions (which require the capacity to decide) lose their rights by violating the rights of others.

    The war one is a bit iffier, though.

    As for how only women are responsible for sex, bear in mind that only women/people with functional female sex organs can become pregnant. What would it mean if the man had equal say in what happens during a woman’s pregnancy? Not to mention that with child support a man isn’t necessarily getting off scot-free if he gets a woman pregnant.

    And again, there’s a distinction between those who allow for exceptions in rape and those who don’t. The people who don’t usually follow the view that fetuses have a right to life barring any and all conceptual circumstances because a fetus is a fetus is a fetus. The people that do, well, allow exceptions for rape and the other things you mentioned.

  • Anonymous

    capital punishment is punishment for wrongdoing

    Ahahaha no. Capital punishment works along racial lines and often kills innocent people.

    The point is that everyone begins life/conception with a right to life,
    and that through their own decisions (which require the capacity to
    decide) lose their rights by violating the rights of others.

    “Someone is stepping on my foot.”

    “It’s a rock. It doesn’t have the capacity to decide to step on your foot.”

    “Do we not care that my foot is broken?”

    As for how only women are responsible for sex, bear in mind that only
    women/people with functional female sex organs can become pregnant.

    Cookie for acknowledging trans and genderqueer people. Promptly confiscated for not acknowledging that consent to sex is not consent to becoming pregnant is not consent to staying pregnant.

    What would it mean if the man had equal say in what happens during a woman’s pregnancy?

    I don’t know about equal say, but in domestic-abuse households, he’s often the final say.

    Not to mention that with child support a man isn’t necessarily getting off scot-free if he gets a woman pregnant.

    *bursts out laughing*

  • Kim

    At what point did you confuse my explaining of pro-life attitudes/disagreeing with the ways that some pro-choice people argue/view pro-life attitudes with holding them? I’m not sure what your rock thing is saying, either. I’ve just seen a lot of arguments about abortion and it seems like there are a lot of arguments or views that pro-choice people take without realizing how they sound to pro-life people. It doesn’t help anyone to argue against apples by talking about all the negatives of oranges.

    EDIT: Re: capital punishment: I’m describing the logic of being pro-life while being pro-capital punishment. I’ve heard it argued that it’s impossible to be pro-life while being pro-capital punishment on the grounds that the former sanctifies life while the latter takes it away. I’m simply describing the reasoning behind the view.

  • Anonymous

    So, the “right to life” isn’t absolute? Because we aren’t required to punish people by killing them–we choose to. Plenty of countries (and some states) punish even the worst criminals by life in prison.

    So, why again is a blob of cells in someone else’s body sacred? Seems more like a handy way to control women’s bodies. All you have to do is get them pregnant–by fair means or foul.

    It is interesting that you state that “all men have the right to be free”. Not women? Or do you consider a woman having sex (ever) as equivalent to criminal acts because forcing women to become or stay pregnant certainly restricts our freedom. And forcing women to become pregnant not only includes rape, but also the current effort to restrict access to contraception.

  • Lori

    We have all heard the innocent/not innocent life argument. The issue is not that we haven’t heard it, it’s that we’ve seen through it. Taken within the whole framework of the political pro-choice argument it’s pretty clearly a rationalization for being anti-choice, not a reason for being anti-choice.

     
    I’ve just seen a lot of arguments about abortion and it seems like there are a lot of arguments or views that pro-choice people take without realizing how they sound to pro-life people. 

     

    This is essentially a tone argument. I’d be a lot more concerned about it if I had ever once heard anti-choice people express any concern about how they sound to pro-choice people. I have not. 

      
    It doesn’t help anyone to argue against apples by talking about all the negatives of oranges. 

     

    It’s not apples and oranges. It’s apples and some more apples that have been painted orange. 

  • Anonymous

    Kim, we’ve all heard the so-called “pro-life” argument for capitol punishment many, many times before. It is still stupid.

    And your assumption that we’ve never heard these things is a bit condescending.

  • Kim

    I’m not assuming you’ve never heard these things before. I’m assuming that there must be a reason why you first use X reason in response to Y situation even if X reason wouldn’t make sense to a pro-life person in that context (such as, mentioning rape to someone whose attitude is that conceptual circumstances don’t matter). I’m guessing that the reason is that you’re currently posting on a blog where the general attitude is pro-choice and so you don’t have to worry too much about your arguments, but I can’t be sure because I don’t know your backgrounds. I don’t think it’s very worthwhile to be speaking across someone instead of to someone. And no, it doesn’t change anything that you don’t know of pro-life people who do the same; others acting poorly or not thinking things through doesn’t give you a similar license.

    It’s not just a tone argument, it’s an argument about logic. If you want to discuss abortion with someone whose view is that a fetus is a fetus is a fetus, what good is it to talk about women who have been raped? Wouldn’t it be far more worthwhile and make much more sense to discuss not the way the fetus was conceived but whether fetuses should have bodily control over women? If you don’t understand where the person you’re talking to is coming from, then chances are they’re not going to respond to what you’re saying.

    “It is interesting that you state that “all men have the right to be free”. Not women?”

    That clearly means “people”. It’s a reference to how we withhold rights in response to violations. It is, again, an extension of the logic of pro-life and pro-capital punishment.

    This is what I don’t like about abortion debates. They can so quickly become “Oh, so you think THIS!” and so on and so forth with people talking across from each other instead of with each other. Perhaps because one side assumes that the other side is full of baby killers, and the opposite assumes their opponents just want to subjugate women. I used to think that way about pro-life people, but now I’m willing to spend a bit more time discussing things and assuming that they have good intentions. Surely some want to see “those sluts” get what they “deserve”, but I find it much more believable that pro-life people include a bunch of people who have a general attitude whose implications they may not fully understand, or they have different values than me. I’d rather not jump right to “so you think getting women pregnant by any means is acceptable?” because that’s a very unfair accusation to make.

  • Lori

    Kim, if the issue really was the difference between innocent life and guilty life then one would logically expect that the evidence of innocent people on death row would make some sort of difference to those who claim that distinction as the basis of their anti-choice, pro-death penalty views. One would also expect that the fact that soldiers are not the only ones who die in war to have some effect on the anti-choice, pro-war folks. It does not. This leads, quite logically, to the conclusion that the innocent/guilty distinction is not what is actually driving their views. 

    Maybe you’re used to posting on anti-choice blogs and therefore aren’t used to people being called on their crap. I don’t know.

  • Kim

    I guess it’s at the part where “it does not” where my experience and your experience differ, as well as my attitude where if it’s logically consistent, then I won’t call it illogical until I have proof that it’s so. Being pro-life and pro-capital punishment isn’t logically inconsistent unless someone is blindly pro-capital punishment and doesn’t care about its flaws. But yeah, I agree with you on the war one: I can understand initially thinking they’re acceptable, but further thought should change things (although I can still understand someone being anti-war without being a pacifist).

    I guess the problem is that I try not to assume that people’s views are crap. :/ That sets things up for a conversation to fail.

  • Lori

     I guess it’s at the part where “it does not” where my experience and your experience differ, as well as my attitude where if it’s logically consistent, then I won’t call it illogical until I have proof that it’s so. Being pro-life and pro-capital punishment isn’t logically inconsistent unless someone is blindly pro-capital punishment and doesn’t care about its flaws. 

    Unless caring about the flaws of capital punishment translates to opposing it unless/until those flaws can be corrected, then claims about being concerned about it really don’t line up with the supposed innocent/guilt reasoning of the anti-choicers. It just doesn’t. 

    I guess the problem is that I try not to assume that people’s views are crap. :/   

    It’s not an assumption, it’s a conclusion based on the evidence of their own words and actions. The problem is that I try not to make excuses for people’s bullshit when that bullshit harms others. 

    That sets things up for a conversation to fail. 

    We’re talking about a situation in which one group is claiming to have cornered the market on “values” and caring about “life”. They continue to flatter themselves with this claim and to use it as a rhetorical club, even though it do not hold up to any real scrutiny. There’s the set-up for conversation fail. Do you chide them about that? Do you chide them about how it sounds to pro-choices when they call us baby killers? 
    Bottom line: I really have no interest in having a tone argument about the issue of whether or not I’m fully human and therefore have the right to bodily autonomy. I have never encountered an anti-choice position that did not have the effect of taking away the bodily autonomy of women while preserving the bodily autonomy of men. That’s the one truly consistent thing. Sort of leads one to think that maybe that’s the actual point. 

  • Kim

    I think the problem is that you’re conflating a bunch of attitudes of some pro-lifers with pro-lifers in total. And I don’t.

    And yes, I have told people off for accusing me of babykilling, but generally at that point I’ve recognized that they’re among the group of pro-life people with whom I can’t have conversations with.

    “Sort of leads one to think that maybe that’s the actual point.”
    It leads you to think that, but considering pregnancy is a situation unique to people with uteri, I don’t think the starting point of the average pro-lifer is “how can I punish sluts for being sluts?” and working from there. I’m not excusing the behavior and attitudes of the people who base their careers upon bashing women for wanting or having bodily autonomy: I’m talking about Jane and Joe Average who believe that a fetus is a human being. It seems to me you’re talking about a totally different group.

  • Lori

    Let’s be clear. We are not talking about people who strive to have what is referred to as a “consistent ethic of life”. Those people are against abortion (but not always in favor of making it legal). They are also anti-war, anti-capital punishment and anti-poverty. 

    We are talking about people who describe themselves as “pro-life” while being pro-war (not merely not pacifist, but pretty actively gung ho about war) and pro-capital punishment.

      It leads you to think that, but considering pregnancy is a situation unique to people with uteri, I don’t think the starting point of the average pro-lifer is “how can I punish sluts for being sluts?”  

     Why are these supposed pro-life people totally focused on a situation that is unique to people with uteri? 

     
    I’m talking about Jane and Joe Average who believe that a fetus is a human being.  

    Why do they believe a fetus is a human being? 

    You and I are talking about the same group of people. The difference is that you take their arguments and beliefs at face value and I look below the surface. 

  • Kim

    “We are talking about people who describe themselves as “pro-life” while being pro-war (not merely not pacifist, but pretty actively gung ho about war) and pro-capital punishment.”

    No, we’re not. And that’s the problem.

  • Lori

    OK,. Who exactly are you talking about? 

  • Kim

    I don’t have a problem with having a death penalty. My problem with it is that it needs to be used much, much less often, the standards of evidence for its use should be much stricter, and its application should focus upon those crimes that indicate the person has not and will never change.

    I would guess that it has to do with the fact that abortion is something the average woman can legally do and abortions occur at the rate of millions, as well as the fact that if you believe fetuses to be human, then they are uniquely innocent lives, having never made any decisions. I don’t think that’s necessarily due to the fact that only women become pregnant and it’s a way of controlling women: certainly I think that plays a part, but not for the average person.

    I mean what I said earlier: the person who says that they find abortion deplorable as an act of murder. That doesn’t mean I don’t ask them why they think that is. That doesn’t mean that I don’t question their views and ask them about their attitudes towards sexual autonomy of women. That doesn’t mean that I don’t react strongly when they say or assume things about me that are unfair or untrue. And that certainly doesn’t mean I blithely accept their viewpoints, as you’ve said I do. It means that I start off assuming that they, as another human being, have good intentions and may have different views than me, and in order to speak with them I should try to understand them. I should start off by listening, not by saying “every pro-lifer I know does X: explain yourself”.

  • Kim

    EDIT: Just realized I hadn’t actually said that Jane and Joe think “abortion is deplorable as an act of murder”. What I mean is the basic view of the pro-life attitude: that abortion is murder.

    EDIT2: Just realized I hit the wrong button in Disqus. Oh well.

  • Lori

     
    I don’t have a problem with having a death penalty. My problem with it is that it needs to be used much, much less often, the standards of evidence for its use should be much stricter, and its application should focus upon those crimes that indicate the person has not and will never change.  

    So we’re not talking about some group of people, we’re talking about you? 

    If we’re talking about you I’m not actually sure how productive this is going to be.

       
     It means that I start off assuming that they, as another human being, have good intentions and may have different views than me, and in order to speak with them I should try to understand them. I should start off by listening, not by saying “every pro-lifer I know does X: explain yourself”. 

      

    First of all, we are not talking about assumptions, we’re talking about expressed views. 

    Second, intent is not magic. Being well intentioned is not some sort of free pass. 

    People can say that they think abortion is murder all day long. That, in and of itself, doesn’t mean anything. Why do they think that? Do they have any reason for that belief that is consistent with their other stated beliefs about “life”.  

    I’m going to keep right on asking the same question—why do anti-choice folks focus their energies on an issue that disproportionately effects women and has the effect of taking away their bodily autonomy while preserving men’s bodily autonomy? Why should I start every conversation about choice with the assumption that this anti-choicer has a really good reason for it when I have literally never heard a good reason in 25+ years of talking to people about the issue? 

  • Kim

    “So we’re not talking about some group of people, we’re talking about you?”

    I was explaining my view of it, and how I think it would be acceptable to allow the death penalty to exist.

    “Being well intentioned is not some sort of free pass.”

    You’re right that it’s not. But I find that starting from the assumption that your conversational partner is wrong, or immoral, and that you have things right and your views are the moral ones in question doesn’t start things on the right foot. It doesn’t let people actually TALK to one another. It just makes them hate each other for being in the wrong camp.

    “I’m going to keep right on asking the same question—why do anti-choice folks focus their energies on an issue that disproportionately effects women and has the effect of taking away their bodily autonomy while preserving men’s bodily autonomy?”

    That’s fine. You should. I do the same. The difference is that I haven’t let my experiences make me cynical and unwilling to start off a conversation with a new person AS a conversation with a new person. I can’t explain it to you more than that. I recognize that after a certain point other people hold views for reasons that I don’t and I can’t change that.

  • Lori

      The difference is that I haven’t let my experiences make me
    cynical and unwilling to start off a conversation with a new person AS a
    conversation with a new person.   

     

    It’s not a matter of being or not being cynical and the fact that
    you characterize it that way is your issue, not mine.

     

    You believe that starting every conversation about choice as if
    it’s the first conversation about choice is a positive good. I do not. I think
    it’s at best neutral and and worst implicitly concedes
    ground to the idea that the anti-choice position is the result of anti-choicers having morals and values while pro-choicers do not. Conceding that ground has done tremendous damage to women and I care more about that than I do about the feels of people who want to take away my full personhood in order to advance the supposed personhood of a fetus. 

  • Kim

    “I think it’s at best neutral and and worst implicitly concedes ground to the idea that the anti-choice position is the result of anti-choicers having morals and values while pro-choicers do not.”

    That’s your problem. I can’t and will not accept that view because it demands a lack of dialogue between people and a justification for pre-judging that I don’t believe is valid. I’m done here: you and I don’t see eye to eye and I can’t say any more on that.

  • Dialogue? You mean with people like this? Fuck no.

  • Lori

     
     I can’t and will not accept that view because it demands a lack of dialogue between people and a justification for pre-judging that I don’t believe is valid. I’m done here: you and I don’t see eye to eye and I can’t say any more on that. 

    Reality isn’t determined by what you will and will not accept and not all talking is dialogue.

  • Kim

    And where did I say that people who have an upfront attitude like that are the people I’m talking about?

  • Kim

    Reality and opinions are not the same thing. Don’t get them confused.

  • Lori

    I could say that same to you. We’re done because there’s no point in continuing.

  • Lori

    A perfect example of the kind of moral calculus that is so often found among anti-choicers: 

     Instead, the agency said the senator had been denied entry to the
    secure part of the airport after refusing a pat-down,and was “escorted”
    from the screening area by local law enforcement, but had never been
    “detained.”

    The presidential campaign of the elder Mr. Paul, a harsh critic of
    the T.S.A. and its procedures, released a statement assailing the
    agency. “The police state in this country is growing out of control. One
    of the ultimate embodiments of this is the TSA that gropes and grabs
    our children, our seniors, and our loved ones and neighbors with
    disabilities. The TSA does all of this while doing nothing to keep us
    safe.”

    A posting on the senator’s own Twitter account shortly before the
    incident announced that he was headed to Washington to speak at the
    “March for Life,” an anti-abortion rally. 

     

    It’s wrong of the government in the form of the TSA to interfere with Rand Paul’s bodily integrity in the form of his right not to be “groped”. It’s fine for the government to interfere with women’s bodily integrity by forcing them to remain pregnant when they do not wish to be. 

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure what your rock thing is saying, either. I’ve just seen a
    lot of arguments about abortion and it seems like there are a lot of
    arguments or views that pro-choice people take without realizing how
    they sound to pro-life people.

    My point, if you haven’t flounced, was that ‘the fetus is not deliberately violating the woman’s rights’ does not negate ‘the fetus is violating the woman’s rights’, nor its corollary ‘the fetus must be prevented from violating the woman’s rights by any means necessary unless the woman decides otherwise’.

  • Kim

    Okay. I didn’t understand what you’d meant from the way you’d worded it.