April 28, 2005

Non-Theistically Pro-Life

The recent spate of arguments equating rejection of a religious Justice-candidate and rejection of a pro-life Justice-candidate have just been another assumption in a long line by left and right to lump abortion into a religious and cultural heading. Religious and pro-life do not align so neatly, nor do non-religious and pro-choice.

The problem is that the more self-righteous pro-choice advocates are very likely to equate being pro-life with being a hillbilly, redneck, yokel Bible-thumper with no capacity for independent thought, and someone who probably doubts the veracity of evolution and the benefits of fluoride, too. Of course, the self-righteous pro-life advocates sometimes have a strong interest in painting pro-choicers as being rationalist, blue-blood, elitist, Manhattan penthouse atheists with no capacity for human compassion, and someone who probably values being gay over being straight, and being Muslim over being American. Okay, so I packed too much into those stereotypical stereotypes, but the point is clear.

The problem is that the more extreme advocates are allowed to set these stereotypes because to some degree they're correct. They are not widely indicative or logically linked, but there is definitely a correlation between geography, culture or religion and one's position on abortion. This is tragic because it ought to be a question of simple science and basic ethical law; in other words, science tells us it's a human, and ethics tells us to ban the murder of humans. Instead, it gets wrapped up in social issues when it's not automatically one.

This is a problem for people like me, who are ultimately disinterested in the stupid struggles of the culture war and unwilling to side with the hypocritical, cross-hating left or the dim-sighted, gay-demeaning right. When I take a survey or poll and it asks me what my most important issue would be, my impulse is to say "abortion." But if that doesn't have its own category, it gets lumped in with gay issues and prayer in school. I am massively disinterested in the school-prayer "controversy" and I don't see any reasonable pretext to treat gay people differently in matters of law.

If I answered "social issues" then I would invariably be lumped in with people who think Mexicans are ruining the country by being janitors and that a big slab of concrete chiseled with ten little rules of courtesy is going to save everything. I'm not a social conservative, though perhaps I sympathize with many of their efforts against an overly-aggressive left. I don't want to be lumped in with them, and I refuse to reduce my principled opposition to abortion into some crude expression of political geography.

Being pro-life is not a religious question, it's an interpretation of facts that leads you to support the necessary, logical conclusion. Either it's a human person that can't be lawfully killed or it's not a human person that can be lawfully killed. Religion need not enter into it at all.

There is a good case to be made that many Democratic activists are hostile towards certain religious viewpoints, but it's a far stretch to say that turning down someone for being pro-life is really an attack on religosity.


Blogger JuniorCouncilor said...

It is absolutely true that no religious motivations are necessary to be pro-life. All that is necessary is a little knowledge of science and natural law, combined with a determination to follow that knowledge to its logical conclusion.

Of course, these stereotypes do have some basis in statistics. And in this case, there is a certain sense of poetic justice in that people see something which is not truly a religious issue as a religious issue precisely because modern liberals have attempted to make it a religious issue, and therefore taboo for prohibitions (kind of like their "intolerance of intolerance"). Nevertheless, it is desirable that we get a truer picture of exactly what drives people, what their true motivations are. But of course, this is not entirely possible, due to the number of people in question and the complexity of individuals.

I would suggest that part of the issue here is that modern liberals see religion and reason as mutually exclusive ideas. Every religious person, in their eyes, is motivated mainly, if not solely, by "the darkness of superstition". Clearly, if one considers for a moment, this is not the case.

Another danger is to be found in the charismatic and evangelical movements. While it is impossible to pin down every trend within these diverse movements, I think it is fair to say that morality is not given the firm, rational foundation that it was given in the more classical incarnations of Christianity, especially pre-conciliar Catholicism. As a result, evangelicals and charismatics rely more on feelings than on carefully considered moral principles, and so, religious people in general are more easily lampooned as being perpetually mired "in the darkness of superstition".

As always, I admire the stand on principle that you take, even if I do not agree with all the principles. Very likely, however, those who are non-theistically pro-life will continue to be ignored. One reason this is true is because if matters came to such a pass that no one could deny that there were good, non-theistic reasons to ban abortion, modern liberals would have lost a very handy smear. They will, therefore, continue to ignore the fact as much as possible. On the other hand, those who have any religious beliefs, even nominal, combined with a non-theistically motivated reason to oppose abortion, will be painted as religiously motivated, nonetheless. The two lies, that religion and reason are mutually exclusive and that opposition to abortion must be religiously motivated, reinforce and feed one another. Modern liberals will do their best to see that these myths continue to be perpetuated, and therefore I agree, in that sense, that it's a shame conservatives are willing to let them, even if it is in an attempt to hoist them with their own petard.

May 02, 2005 10:16 PM  

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