My Reply to An Abortion Protester

A few weeks ago, I commented on a post about Facebook that I had recently lost a dear childhood friend because I found out she protests abortion clinics on the weekend. She just now sent me a message via Facebook:

I get that we have different opinions on faith but does this mean we can't be friends? I value our friendship and I was excited to find you again - what's going on?

I thought I would share my reply with all of you.

Differences on faith is one thing. You have a faith in a god, and that's fine. That puts you right there with most of the world's population. I have no problem with faith (other than the fact that it is the willful abondonment of reason and evidence, but that's your right to choose such a path and not my place to judge you for it). For a lot of people, faith is great. It helps you get through the day. It helps you wake up each morning. You live your life believing that everything has a purpose, that there's somebody out there who always loves you and is looking out for you no matter what. Those are nice thoughts, really.

The problem is your little weekend hobby. Picketing abortion clinics? I wanted to throw up when I read that. You're not using faith to bring peace to your life or hope for an eternal life in Heaven because you've been good and believed the right things. No, you're using it as a battering ram to shove your god and his Bronze Age morality down other people's throats. You're standing outside a medical facility making women and young girls who probably already feel like shit for the choice they've made feel even worse. Your weekend hobby is to call people murderers and whores (whether you say it out loud, you're thinking it, and don't you dare deny it), because one line in a book of myths written by primative goat herders who didn't even KNOW how the reproductive process works, let alone have even the faintest understanding of zygotes, fetuses, etc. made a pronouncement that even modern medical science can't make.

It is entirely your business if you have faith in a god and believe the things you think this god tells you. Don't believe in abortion because your god says it's wrong? Great, then *don't get an abortion.* THAT is where your faith ENDS. Extending it to bullying young women and girls into doing what you believe your god says is disgusting and one of the most immoral things I can think of.

I recall you being a champion for women and their independence. I recall you standing up against me when you just had even the faintest idea that I might have been hurting my girlfriend. You were wrong, but so what? Where is that Wendy? She's certainly not standing on the picket line telling rape victims and poverty-stricken women to trust in Jesus to make everything alright! No, Jesus doesn't make everything alright. Jesus doesn't give women money to feed their babies. Jesus doesn't help a raped 14 year old finish high school or get up in the middle of the night to feed the product of what somebody (usually an adult male) forced upon her.

I could argue the pro-choice/pro-life debate all day long with you, but that's not the point. I don't CARE if you're pro-life. I don't CARE if you think abortion is a sin, murder, etc. Those are your own private beliefs and you're entitled to them. We live in a great country where everyone is free to believe whatever they believe. But for the millions of people who don't believe as you do; who believe that there's nothing wrong with abortion, you would DENY THEM that same right if you could. Oh, I understand, you think it's the murder of innocent babies. I was once a very religious man, so let me put it in theological terms for you. You were commanded to go with your enemy, to turn the other cheek, to not pass judgement on the sins of others because no human is qualified to do so, only God is. You were NEVER commanded to stop others from sinning. You were commanded to share your faith and not hide the light under a basket, but you were NEVER commanded to force the things you believe on other people.

Another of those great rights you enjoy in this country is the freedom of speech and expression. You have every right to stand out there on the weekend and shout your faith to your heart's content. You have every right to tell some poor young girl that she's a murderer and will burn in hell forever. You have that right and, honestly, if someone tried to take it away from you I'd be the first one telling them to back off! But I also have the right not to associate with people who choose to excersize their rights by cramming the bible down other people's throats. You may have the right to do it, but I have the right to be disgusted by it and to avoid such people at all costs.

This isn't about a difference in faith. Our difference in faith is fine. This is about the unconscionable use to which you put that faith. This is about what a religious bully you are and how I will have absolutely no tolerance for that in my life, not even on Facebook.

I don't expect you to change. You keep doing whatever it is that you think is right and I will do the same. We just have two VERY different ideas about what that is. If anything in this message has offended you, well, then we're even, because your little weekend hobby is one of the most offensive things I can imagine. It was nice knowing you, Wendy. Good luck with your whole bashing-people-over-the-head-with-Jesus thing. See ya.

Views: 6

Comment by Doug Reardon on April 10, 2010 at 12:23am
Avoid those who are vexations to the spirit!
Comment by Shine on April 10, 2010 at 8:54am
Great response, Galen. You completely incinerated that "Boo-hoo, you don't like my faith!" strawman.

Don't believe in abortion because your god says it's wrong? Great, then *don't get an abortion.*

Why is this so hard for the religious pro-life movement to grasp?! I feel like a similar statement could be said about opposition to gay marriage. Why does allowing people to have an abortion or marry a member of the same gender make religious people feel like participation in either act is mandatory?
Comment by Radu Andreiu on April 10, 2010 at 9:31am
What if there were a religion which said you can choose whether you'll have an abortion or not and that this choice is holy and needs not be questioned? Would the Christian fundamentalists say "don't respect your religion; respect mine!". That's total non-sense.

I really liked your response, Galen. I wouldn't want to be friends with a persons that tries to impose his/her beliefs on others. As long as it's legal to have an abortion, these pro-life people should try to convince authorities that it shouldn't be legal and give solid arguments (assuming they had), not to impose their beliefs on people like that.

People in my country don't generally start accusing people who are respecting the law, so I really haven't heard of any pro-life protesters. I think I should be grateful for that, but maybe that's a sign that we have greater problems here than imposing our beliefs on others. Perhaps when and if things start to get better in my country, this kind of protests will start to appear.
Comment by Shine on April 10, 2010 at 9:54am
Radu, is abortion legal in Romania? I remember in your post on Romania you were discussing the paradox of the supposedly secular government directly subsidizing religious institutions. Does Orthodox Christianity influence your laws as well?
Comment by Radu Andreiu on April 10, 2010 at 10:39am
Abortions are legal here. No amount of religion could make people forget what they endured during the communist regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu, which ended with his execution on a quite surprising day for a Christian majority - December 25 1989. There have been a lot of women who have suffered very much because of the illegality of abortion, because those who tried to have abortions had to do it in very precarious conditions (mostly in apartments and houses). There is a Romanian movie about this exact thing, called 4 Months 3 Weeks and 2 Days which won Palm d'Or (and many other awards) and was even nominated for the Golden Globes.

Anyway, after such a totalitarian regime, Romania went on a quite liberal path. Furthermore, being a member of the European Union, the Romanian government couldn't take such extreme measures even if it wanted to.

Regarding the Romanian Orthodox Church, it has only influenced the law to grant them money through the Romanian Ministry of Culture and National Patrimony, claiming to be an important part of the Romanian culture. That's how they get some churches built from our tax money and how they got their religion taught in schools. The argument is that the children are only taught what this part of Romanian culture is all about, but in fact, the teachers actually preach the dogma as if it was the truth. I would be more than pleased to see a course of comparative religion introduced in schools where the students could learn about the history of religions and what these religion teachings are, but that surely isn't the case. I remember having some lessons about other important religions, but the teacher presented them quite briefly and the next thing I knew he was back at preaching Orthodox Christianity dogma.
Comment by kelltrill on April 10, 2010 at 11:28am
That is an excellent, eloquent, and honest response, Galen. I hope I can have as much courage to say those things when I have to as you did.
Comment by Shine on April 10, 2010 at 11:39am
Thanks for the info, Radu!

I would be more than pleased to see a course of comparative religion introduced in schools where the students could learn about the history of religions and what these religion teachings are, but that surely isn't the case.

I would also like to see courses on religion as literature and a psychological/sociological phenomena incorporated into the education system. I know that it would be difficult to make sure that no religion was being promoted over the others, but I think that the total exclusion of religion from schools only gives Christians something to cry persecution over. Of course, in Romania it sounds like you have the opposite of the US's problem of total exclusion in that you have a total inclusion of one religion into the curriculum. It's too bad no country seems to strike a happy medium of education regarding religions. (Or if there is such a country, I guess I haven't heard about it. Although, I wouldn't be surprised to find that somewhere in Scandinavia had accomplished the feat.)
Comment by CJoe on April 11, 2010 at 12:31am
Galen, if this girl responds back, I'd love to read what she has to say. Even as a Christian I never thought of picketing abortion clinics or screaming at young girls that they were whores and murders, so I can't actually imagine what she thinks or feels in response to this very stinging message. I definitely believed abortion was wrong, but if you'd sent that letter to me I can only imagine that I'd either be too flustered to fully comprehend what you said, or I'd be really struck by it and reconsider what I was doing.

When I lived in Nashville, my church got involved in a little program where they stood silently outside of Hustler with duct-tape over their mouth and "LOVE" written in permanent marker. They may have also played a bit of guitar (all four chords they knew and repeated incessantly during the worship service). It was a "silent protest", which I guess is better. I think they assumed the girls working inside were prostitutes? Whatever the case, they "pitied" them and hoped they would realize God loved them and that they didn't have to work at such a base place as Hustler. Even then, I thought it was really stupid. I think religious protests are the biggest waste of time... and I don't actually believe you should be allowed to protest anything. Like, say, a gay Marine's funeral? That should be illegal. What's the purpose? I call it harassment.
Comment by Galen on April 11, 2010 at 1:28am
Cara, she replied, but I didn't think the ongoing conversation was really worth posted. But ok, here goes:

To me, from her:
I just wish you had told me, I thought our friendship was more important than an issue. Anyway what you don't know is that no matter what I have ever believed about women's independence abortion was never something I believed in ever. I do believe Jesus can an will make things better. Also, you really don't know what we do because you believe what the media tells you. We are out there in love and we are praying for those women. I get it they made a mistake or something awful happened to them. Don't tell me what I am thinking because you don't know my heart or my mind. You weren't there while I was crying for those women and for those babies, you just don't understand the very deep pain this causes me. I could have been one of those babies, I was unplanned.

The other thing is the abortion is the only surgery in which the doctor is not required to tell the risks of the procedure, you know that she might die or never be able to have children again. Also what they do to the babies pulling them apart piece by piece or burn them to death with chemicals. I that is wrong. How can it be called a choice if all info is not given.

We have counselors there to help with the choice or to help deal with the emotions after they go through with it. We want to love these women no matter what they do. Yes I think abortion is a moral wrong, I would still love that person anyway, because you are right about one thing it is not my place to judge, but no we are not supposed to aid and bed sin.

It is fine that you don't want to speak to me and I am sorry that I hurt you. I am glad for the time we had as friends, I will always love you as my friend and pray for you. May your life be blessed my good and dear friend.



To her, from me:
As I said, I'm not interested in debating the morality of abortion with you. I don't expect to change your mind, nor am I trying to. I will, however, correct misinformation when I see it. You said:

"The other thing is the abortion is the only surgery in which the doctor is not required to tell the risks of the procedure, you know that she might die or never be able to have children again. Also what they do to the babies pulling them apart piece by piece or burn them to death with chemicals. I that is wrong. How can it be called a choice if all info is not given."

The first sentence is an outright lie. I'm not sure who told you that or why you believed it, but consider yourself corrected. There is EXCESSIVE counselling and divulging of every last detail of the procedure beforehand. Abortion clinics also provide PROFESSIONAL counselling after the procedure and will, on request, refer women on to more long term counselling if they need it. Patients are also required to read and sign documents which describe the procedure and the risks in great detail.

After that first sentence, you describe the procedure of a late-term abortion, which is very RARELY done if the fetus is still alive. It is most commonly performed if the fetus has died and is a danger to the life of the mother. Even when it is performed on a living fetus, it is so risky and traumatizing to the mother that doctors will usually not perform it unless the mother's life is in imminent danger and there is no other choice.

You can argue this stuff all day long and so could I, but I have no intention of doing that. You downplay this as if I'm throwing out our friendship over "one little issue." No, I simply have no tolerance for people who (like most theists) can't accept that their personal beliefs END at the barrier of their own mind and should never affect others. If you're against abortion, then don't get one. If you're against gay marriage, don't marry someone of the same sex. If you're against ANYTHING, then DON'T DO THAT THING, but don't stand there telling other people that they have to live their life based on what YOU believe and pretend that it's no big deal to take other people's freedom away. I know you sincerely believe you're doing the right thing, because it's what your faith tells you. Many MANY horrible things have been done by people who sincerely believed they were doing what God wanted them to do. Many people have cried and prayed about many terrible things before doing them, all while thinking it's ok because Jesus says so.

Faith is an excuse for a lot of shit, but it excuses none of it. I'm sure you're used to the words "I believe..." or "This is my faith..." being the end-all be-all of any discussion. Those words mean nothing to me and your faith is not an excuse for your immorality and evil. You have a functioning reasoning mind; use it.

When you one day figure out how to not just "keep the faith" but also keep the faith to yourself and stop imposing your beliefs on others, I'll still be here and I don't hold grudges. Peace :)


To me, from her:
Since I will not change and not keep the love Jesus to myself, I guess this is it. I feel blessed for the friendship we had and I will still pray for you. I am so sorry for whatever turned you from Him.

I will never believe abortion is the right choice and I will never believe that abortionist help women in any way. If it wasn't for people who stand out there the women and girls who are forced to go there by boyfriends or ashamed parents, they would have no where to turn and they would have to do something that they would regret for the rest of their lives with no one to counsel them or to care about their needs. Anyway it is unimportant, you believe as you do and I believe as I do.

I don't wish to fight with you, we had a good friendship and I will miss you. I will always be grateful that you helped me during a hard time in my life. As I said I hope your life is blessed and I will always love you as my friend. God still loves you and I pray that one day you will find your way back.

In Christ,

Wendy



To her, from me:
You needn't feel sorry because nothing turned me from him. He doesn't exist. I might as well say that I'm sorry for whatever turned you from Allah or Zeus or Lord Krishnu or Ra or Thor. You and I are very much the same. You know exactly what it's like not to believe in a god, because there are over 30,000 gods that you don't believe in. You and I both think those gods are silly ancient superstitions. The difference is that I can see clearly that your god is no different.

I also don't wish to fight with you. Good luck with your life and your family. I wish you well.


--

And that's the end of it, unless she keeps going.
Comment by CJoe on April 11, 2010 at 2:14am
Eck... it is kinda painful. I like how she makes an argument from emotion. Oh you poor thing; you feel pain when you think of those women and babies? PUH-LEEEZ. I would say most people on the planet are "unplanned", so she doesn't get any points for having narrowly escaped an abortion, miscarriage or the simple infant mortality rate.

If it wasn't for people who stand out there the women and girls who are forced to go there by boyfriends or ashamed parents, they would have no where to turn...

What the hell? Doesn't she realize it's those abortion clinics the women and girls are turning to? It's not like someone forced them there. Any idiot knows there are churches who oppose abortion and stand at-the-ready to do absolutely nothing. What good is counseling when these women need something more tangible? And I'm sorry, I think giving kids up for adoption as an alternative is asinine. If they really care about those VIABLE children, then they'd never send them into the system, not knowing what horrors they might experience.

It's mind boggling. I can't believe I used to be one of them! Thanks for posting though... I guess it was too much to hope she would've gotten something out of your excellent letter.

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