Pro-Life Hypocrites

If you vote Republican because you think that party is the "pro-life" party, and yet you oppose what contributes to quality of life and equality (for women and minorities and LGBTQ persons), then you, frankly, are a religious hypocrite. I realize that critique stings; and I would probably fare better by being more diplomatic. You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. But allow me a two-fold response: 1) the Religious Right needs a severe shaking from their self-righteous and hypocritical stranglehold worldview, such as this one; and 2) since when has the Religious Right ever cared about how they addressed their religious and political enemies, enemies that they created?1

If your eyes have scrolled to this second paragraph then I assume one of two scenarios: 1) you are moderate-to-liberal politically, or religiously, and you agree with me thus far; or 2) you are a conservative who actually cares about my complaints regarding life, quality of life, equality and genuine pro-life issues. Because being pro-life maintains more than merely being pro-birth. You want to protect the lives of the unborn. That is a worthy cause! I applaud your social pluck.2 But will you fight just as hard for the rights of your newborn should he or she grow up to be homosexual, bisexual, or transgender? Will you seek to promote social policies that will aid toward their health and education?

My dad, a right-wing FOX "News" advocate, said relatively recently that he has never before heard the argument that being "pro-life" includes more than merely being pro-birth. I responded: If you want to engage in a social conversation then you are obligated to listen to others outside your social realm. You cannot only listen to and read commentary from those within your own socio-politico-religio context and expect to garner a wider base for evaluating your opinions or views. In effect, you cannot only listen to Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and FOX "News" and expect to hear or learn about a broader perspective on social issues. The same is true for theology: you must read from sources other than your own particular brand in order to be well-informed.

Do I practice what I preach? Oh yes! I listen to and read from sources with which I entirely disagree; and I do so in order to learn -- learn information and viewpoints that may even inform and support my own worldview. Politically I watch MSNBC, CNN, FOX "News" (and the reason for the repeated scare quotes is that FOX offers far more opinion than news) and the BBC. Theologically I read from Episcopal sources, such as Samuel Wells, Ian S. Markham, Vicki K. Black, Christopher Webber, C. Andrew Doyle, Greg Garrett and Dwight J. Zscheile. But I also regularly read biblical commentary from the theologically-conservative Baker series (Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook, Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary, Baker Illustrated Bible Dictionary), as well as from conservatives such as David Dockery, Craig A. Evans, Lee Strobel, Craig L. Blomberg et al. I take the initiative to be well-informed and refuse to wear blinders.

I wish most Religious Right advocates would do the same but they, largely, refuse. Typically, religious conservatives are so dogmatically attached to their "rightness" that they refuse to consider any points of view than their own, and that is why they treat those with whom they disagree as hateful enemies: their personal enemies, enemies of Christianity, enemies of God. This "us vs. them" mentality of religious conservatives is utterly despicable, evil, anti-Kingdom. The Religious Right wages war on the culture at large (think Franklin Graham, James Dobson, Mike Pence, Ben Carson, Jerry Falwell, Jr. and those at Liberty University, Eric Metaxas) out of one side of their mouth while proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ out of the other side. In effect, the Message becomes, "Repent, you godless and immoral people, and turn to Christ." But the underlying effect is: "Come to the Christ that we have crafted in our own image."


For the Jesus of the white Religious Right cares primarily about His own rights, existence, and survival. Gone is the Jesus of the New Testament, who uttered, "Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account." (Matt. 5:11) The Religious Right Jesus engages His political fight by rhetorically manipulating "the (right-wing, conservative, evangelical) Christian vote," as did Franklin Graham last year while campaigning for Donald J. Trump (one of the most immoral and unethical individuals ever to run for the Presidency of this country) and couching that unscrupulous language in terms of protecting the unborn.

What about subsequent to birth? Donald Trump elected Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education for this country. Her conservative evangelical Religious Right views have guided her to the propagating of inequality for LGBTQ students. She employs the same verbiage used in the civil rights era to advance segregationist ideology: "allow the states to make their own choices." But the states do not decide which institution receives federal funding. Hence LGBTQ students need, as did people of color during the civil rights era, federal protection. Betsy DeVos will not grant federal protection to LGBTQ students. (link/link/link) This is the frame of reference of religious conservatives.

Mind you, this corroborates entirely with religious freedom bills passed within recent years, the real goal of which is to protect conservative Christians from being charged with discrimination from LGBTQ folk. In Mississippi, for example, Gov. Phil Bryant "signed a bill ... that protects businesses and religious groups from punishment [better, consequences] if they deny services such as counseling, wedding planning and adoption support to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people when it's based on 'sincerely held religious beliefs or convictions.'" (link) One has to appreciate the adjective "sincerely" used in this bill. Well, as long as the conservative evangelical is sincere in his or her religious bigotry, then discrimination is deemed appropriate. The Religious Right used to make people of color the target of their prejudice and hatred. They have swapped people of color for LGBTQ persons. Meanwhile, they call LGBTQ persons to Christ, demanding they live without a romantic partner for the rest of their lives.

All the while, though, these pro-life hypocrites insist that they love people, they love the Lord, and they love this country. What they truly love, from all appearances, is themselves. They love the Religious Right Republican Jesus whom they crafted in their evangelical image, their religious freedoms, their Republican party that warrants those discriminatory freedoms, and their own evangelical communities. Everyone else? Well, they are the enemy, and may God have mercy on them (but, not really, since the only ones who deserve mercy are those who conform to the pattern of the Religious Right). Pro-life? More like hypocritical and self-righteous pro-evangelical.

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1 "We," writes former Religious Right advocate Cal Thomas, referring to the Religious Right of the early 1980s, "had the power to right every wrong and cure very ill and end every frustration that God-fearing people had been forced to submit to by our 'oppressors,' whom we labeled secular humanists," the same word still used by Franklin Graham (link), "abortionists, homosexuals, pornographers, and 'liberals.' We opposed them all with the righteous indignation we thought came directly from God." Cal Thomas and Ed Dobson, Blinded by Might: Can the Religious Right Save America? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 22. The answer assumed to the subtitle is no.

2 Have you considered that the problem is not the legalization of abortion but the hearts of people? You cannot legislate morality and ethics. I know many of you believe contrary; but the Religious Right already proved that I am right. Again, Cal Thomas writes, "If any political movement should have been able to change the country by implementing its agenda, it was the Moral Majority. We had the nation's attention. We were mobilizing the nation's largest demographic unit ... and we had a President [Ronald Reagan] in the White House friendly to our objectives. For six years we also had a Republican-controlled Senate." Still, abortion remained legal, and under this Religious Right and Republican framework millions of babies were aborted.

"That was twenty years ago [when he wrote this in 1999]," he continues, "and today very little that we set out to do has gotten done. In fact, the moral landscape of America has become worse. The Moral Majority folded in the late eighties, giving way to the Christian Coalition and other organizations that have taken up its agenda, using, with minor variations, the same strategies to achieve the same ends we failed to achieve.

"Two decades after conservative Christians charged into the political arena, bringing new voters and millions of dollars with them in hopes of transforming the culture through political power, it must now be acknowledged that we have failed." (23) The Religious Right continues to fail because they are not using Kingdom principles but cultural weapons that can in no sense change the heart. Unless the hearts of people are changed there will be no change manifested through political means.

ABOUT WILLIAM BIRCH

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My name is William Birch and I grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition but converted, if you will, to Anglicanism in 2012. I am gay, affirming, and take very seriously matters of social justice, religion and politics in the church and the state.