Why Anti-Choicers Pretend Theocracy Does Not Exist

Blog Against Theocracy

The vast majority of the anti-choice movement is a fundamentally religious movement.  Backed by a religious conviction that abortion is murder, they are attempting to force their religion into our legal system.  So like Creationists hiding behind “Intelligent Design” and men who like to dress in lab coats, they hide behind secular arguments and sonograms to make believe their stance comes from reason rather than its polar opposite: faith.

A more novel strategy is to boldly pretend away the very existence of one’s opposition.  By way of example, smithadam’s post about the non-existence of atheism (literally, no joke, because the Bible says so):

Notice how I titled this thing “Why Atheism Does Not Exist,” and not “Why I Believe Atheism Does Not Exist.” I did this because it is not only what I believe, it is also because it is a fact.

The Bible does not acknowledge atheism in any form. The Bible says that all men know that there is a God.

4Simpsons linked to a really interesting post, wherein the author attempts to pull a stunt of a similar vein, but with a twist more applicable to the Minuteman Project claiming they are not at all racist.  The Evangelical Outpost as quoted by 4Simpsons (emphasis mine):

If you find these ideas absurd and repugnant, you are most likely a secularist. If you find them to be embarrassing truths, then you may be on the religious left. If you find them so obvious that they hardly need stating, then you are probably a member of the so-called “religious right.”

I embrace them whole-heartedly, which makes me a certified member of the religious right. Although I’ve often been uncomfortable with that term, I find it fits me more and more, as if I’m growing into it. So be it.

Whenever you hear someone say that the religious right is attempting to install a theocracy, simply say “You’re an idiot” and move on. We’ve wasted too much time on this nonsense already. It’s a desperate attempt to create a term that has the affect of “racist” or “sexist” so that when its applied, it automatically paints an opponent as beyond the pale of political discourse. Really, anyone who says that-no matter how much they may try to nuance the word-is an idiot.

The word “theocracy” already carries a very negative connotation, and with well-supported reason.  Full blown theocracies are never praised as exemplars of liberty or human rights.  Quite the opposite.  Its ironic that TEO claims those of us who oppose the religious right’s attempts to install a theocracy want to paint our opponents as “beyond the pale of political discourse”, while simultaneously advising when encountering us true believers ought to “simply say “You’re an idiot” and move on”.  One of the biggest problems with arguments based in faith instead of reason, is that by their nature they shut down political discourse by bringing the discussion into the realm of the unspeakable: criticism of religion.  A pro-choice politician may criticize the anti-reproductive rights stance of a born again Legislator, but to criticize the religion behind that stance risks severe criticism, whereas criticizing the logic behind a stance born of the same is perfectly acceptable.

I don’t know who this fellow thinks is trying to nuance the word theocracy in the slightest:

1. A government ruled by or subject to religious authority.
2. A state so governed.
Attempts to oppose gay rights, a woman’s right to choose, the teaching of evolution in schools, teaching sex education, are all examples of the religious right attempting to foist their religious authority onto all of us.  When the spin is removed and we see these actions as a whole, in their original frame, their decidedly negative cast shows through with a startling clarity.  That is why the religious right does not want to even acknowledge the word theocracy in political discourse.  It forces them to play a poker game where everyone knows their tell.
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19 Responses

  1. “Attempts to oppose gay rights, a woman’s right to choose, the teaching of evolution in schools, teaching sex education, are all examples of the religious right attempting to foist their religious authority onto all of us.”

    I agree with most of that, and I agree that it’s wrong to do so in most of those occasions (and I am a Christian). But let me ask you this: if some beleives (as I do) that life begins at conception, then wouldn’t opposition to abortion be the logical conclusion. And, not all pro-lifers are so due to religious reasons.

  2. Why, yes, of course any efforts to make public policies that agree with the Bible are a transparent attempt to establish a theocracy.

    I can’t believe we have laws against murder. Those stupid Christians are always trying to force their morality on us. Who do they think they are? Lousy 6th Commandment. Who needs it?

    And why do those theocrats insist that stealing is wrong as well? And perjury. I can’t stand those guys.

    And of course they should mind their own business about abortion and slavery. If you don’t want one, don’t have one, right?

    Love,
    Your favorite anti-choicer (that is, “anti-choice-to-crush-and-dismember-an-innocent-human-being).

    Friendly reminder of the outcome of safe, legal and rare abortions you support: (Warning: graphic images – but hey, they are real and you can’t blame on your “faith” bogey man) http://abort73.com/HTML/I-A-4-photos.html

  3. “And, not all pro-lifers are so due to religious reasons.”

    Good point, Eric. I know of atheists who are skilled pro-life apologists. And you don’t have to be a Christian to realize that life begins at conception. Any other view is anti-science in the extreme – http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2008/03/09/life-begins-at-conception/

    Most pro-legalized abortionists realize that and have to rely on (equally bad) philosophical reasoning – e.g., “ok, the unborn are human beings, but not persons yet . . .”

  4. P.S. There are many “religious” pro-legalized abortion groups (the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, for one, plus groups for nearly every denomination and Catholics as well). Whether those people are authentically Christian is between them and God (the rest of their theology is typically heretical.

    That aside, they think they have religious justification for legalized abortion, gay marriage, condom distribution to teens, etc. So are they theocrats for letting their religious views inform their political views? Do you seek to dismiss their input as well?

    I think their views are wrong on multiple levels, but I don’t try to silence them.

  5. I recently had the misfortune of being dragged into a political conversation with someone who went on and on about how liberals were trying to crucify Christianity. He was convinced that people who were left of center were on a crusade to elevate all other religions above his own, and he was very aggitated about this. Being left of center myself, and therefore believing that my understanding of my beliefs was superior to his understanding of my beliefs, I tried to explain that what I actually believed in was the separation of church and state.
    He momentarily agreed with the idea that they should be separate, until he found his way to the topic of abortion. When I asked him why he was opposed to abortion he immediately referenced the Bible. I tried to reassert the notion of separation of church and state, but he ignored me and continued telling me how his religion was under attack.

  6. How does having the Bible inform one’s political views break the “separation” “law” (which we all know – or should know – is not in the Constitution.

    Having people vote based on their religious views does not mean that Congress is establishing a religion (which is what the 1st Amendment really prohibits).

  7. Firstly, sorry all for responding so lately.

    eric b,
    I think it is natural to oppose abortion given that belief. However if that belief comes from a religious place, then trying to get others to bend to it via the apparatus of the state would not be right. That’s theocratic, the unification of religious belief and state power.

    Neil,
    Murder is, clearly a poor example, and I am sure you know this. You don’t need the Bible to have the morality necessary to understand killing is wrong.

    The same goes for stealing and lying under oath. You don’t need the Bible for ethics. There are also many examples throughout history of laws upholding a shared sense of ethics and protecting rights, that exist in countries that survived without holy books.

    Regarding “Life begins at conception”, your standard of “proof” for anything that confirms your religious beliefs is dissapointingly low.

    This is an important point. I am not about silencing anybody. I believe that we should not use push religion using the power of the state.

    Kate,
    That is hilarious. Its almost adorable how some people don’t seem to get that point when staring right at it.

    Neil,
    Imagine this country was 80% Christian. Now imagine they were the same kind of Christian, who believed sex before marriage was wrong. This informs their political opinion, and a law against fornication is passed. Can you see how this might infringe on the rights of the 20% who do not hold those same beliefs?

  8. Dan, you have got to be kidding me. You have done the most disingenuous “reasoning” here.

    My standard of proof for life beginning at conception is embryology textbooks, along with a healthy dose of common sense. Not only that, check out what many pro-legalized abortion leaders concede. Here’s a sample:

    “Faye Wattleton, the longest reigning president of the largest abortion provider in the world – Planned Parenthood – argued as far back as 1997 that everyone already knows that abortion kills. She proclaims the following in an interview with Ms. Magazine: “I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don’t know that abortion is killing. So any pretense that abortion is not killing is a signal of our ambivalence, a signal that we cannot say yes, it kills a fetus.””

    For you to say that is “disappointingly low” is absurd and shows how your anti-religious bias is clouding your thinking. Are you anti-science? What standard of proof would you require?

    Your reasoning is that religious views shouldn’t inform political views. My murder, stealing and perjury examples are apt. What if 80% of people said perjury was OK? Would I be in the wrong to lobby against that just because my religious views lined up with that?

    “You don’t need the Bible for ethics. There are also many examples throughout history of laws upholding a shared sense of ethics and protecting rights, that exist in countries that survived without holy books.”

    Guess what? You have many religions and atheists as well who are pro-life.

    You also ignored the fact that there are many pro-legalized abortion. Why not rail against their political involvement? Oh yeah, because your real issue isn’t religion at all, just silencing opposing viewpoints.

  9. “Can you see how this might infringe on the rights of the 20% who do not hold those same beliefs?”

    Welcome to democracy. Guess what? Very few laws have 100% support. So you are always at risk for having laws passed that you don’t like. The only thing here is that you have a transparent anti-orthodox Christian bias and want to prohibit religious freedoms. That is rather un-American.

  10. P.S. Sorry to sound so snarky – I really need to slow down!

  11. Neil,
    Actually some of your standards of proof raise some interesting epistemic questions. But straight to the points you’ve raised:

    Common sense does not a standard of proof make. I’d be interested in looking at those embryology textbooks, who wrote them, etc. With a culture so divided on the issue, I wonder to what degree one’s personal beliefs clash with the produced science?

    Which leads me to the problem with a religious argument being presented with scientific proof. Even if the proof itself is scientific, the approach itself is not. Its starting with a conclusion and searching for support, rather than starting with data and searching for an answer.

    I suppose my problem is that if this was a settled question (like say, evolution), then it would be one thing. But the questions of “when does life start?” and “when does human life start?” are still hotly contested. So its not a firmly decided issue, and shouldn’t be treated as one merely because it supports a particular belief.

    Your murder, stealing and perjury examples are not apt if you are attempting to say religion is needed for such laws. It is not. Hence the 80% question does not apply, as it is not a question of overriding religious freedom, but of applying the shared standards of society.

    I’m sure there are *some* atheists who are pro-life (theobromophile is one example certainly), and other religions as well.

    Its one thing to use religion to restrict rights, quite another to uphold them. But if the situation was a body politic opposed to abortion for secular reasons with the broad support of scientists and ethicists, and people argued religiously that abortion was a right because their holy book said so, yeah, I would oppose that.

    “Welcome to democracy.”
    Actually, our system of government has a variety of checks to protect the rights of the minority from the tyranny of the majority. It isn’t a question of 100% support. It is a question of one religion forcing its rules upon others.

    I support religious freedom completely. What I do not support is forcing your religious beliefs upon everybody. That’s not religious freedom, and its not limited to any religion which tries to pull it. This seems to be a difficult point, so to make it a bit clearer:

    You are free to be an orthodox Christian.
    You are not free to force others to live by orthodox Christian beliefs.

    Otherwise they are not able to enjoy freedom of religion.

    (No worries, snark is fun).

  12. “Which leads me to the problem with a religious argument being presented with scientific proof.”

    Dan, sometimes I wonder if dialogue is possible with you. Seriously. You are begging the question again. You are doing exactly what you are accusing me of doing: Starting with your conclusion (“religious beliefs are behind your views!”) then working backwards. And even if you were right with that premise, your conclusion is still wrong. People have a right in this country to let their religious views (or lack of religious views) inform their political views. See the 1st Amendment: It protects religious freedoms, it doesn’t restrict them like you are trying to do.

    “But the questions of “when does life start?” and “when does human life start?” are still hotly contested.”

    Do your embryology research and get back to me. Here’s a starter with a list of textbooks and quotes – http://abort73.com/index.php?/abortion/medical_testimony

    And I’m really quite serious that the pro-abortion lobby typically concedes this point. They moved on to the philosophical argument of “personhood.” It is equally lame, but at least they conceded the scientific piece.

    I would dearly love to debate you in person on this, showing pictures of developing human beings, quotes from embryology textbooks, quote from pro-legalized abortion leaders, etc., and then have you try to convince everyone that abortion doesn’t kill a human being.

    “Your murder, stealing and perjury examples are not apt if you are attempting to say religion is needed for such laws.”

    You missed the point completely. Your point is that my views on abortion must be dismissed just because they happen to agree with my religious views. As illogical as that is, if you are consistent then you would have to dismiss my views on murder, stealing and perjury as well. My examples are completely apt.

    Once again, your premise fails (“If you are religious then your views are disqualified, even if you put forth secular reasoning”) and your conclusion fails (“religious views shouldn’t influence public policy”).

    “But if the situation was a body politic opposed to abortion for secular reasons with the broad support of scientists and ethicists, and people argued religiously that abortion was a right because their holy book said so, yeah, I would oppose that.”

    Really? Then why didn’t your post blast the Religious Coalition for Reproductice Choice, Catholics for Choice, etc.?

    “What I do not support is forcing your religious beliefs upon everybody. ”

    The problem is that you have an overly broad definition of “forcing.” With your definition, you are forcing your non-religious beliefs on me, and the religious liberals are forcing their beliefs on me. I don’t use your definition, so I don’t whine about people expressing opposing views or voting based upon them.

  13. P.S. Just for the record, when I teach pro-life reasoning I split the arguments between secular and Biblical – http://www.4simpsons.com/pro%20life.ppt

    I only use the Biblical arguments with Christians.

  14. Neil,

    I am not begging the question at all. I’m saying when you say “oooh look, science”, I can still see the Bible your holding behind your back. Honestly, if science was able to pinpoint when a fetus became a baby at, say, 8 months, would you change your position at all? I’d change mine. The basis for my beliefs on reproductive rights stem from science and a respect for women.

    Personhood, or when human life starts, is hardly lame. Its right on. Its the difference between a potential life and an actual life, and yes, there is a difference. If potential truly had weight, then preventing people from having sex, using protection, or taking the pill would all be acts of murder. That logic simply does not hold up to scrutiny.

    But the larger point is it shouldn’t have to. Why lend legitimacy to an outdated patriarchal religion’s political arguments about why we ought to control women’s wombs? Church does not belong in affairs of the State.

    The problem is that you have an overly broad definition of “forcing.” With your definition, you are forcing your non-religious beliefs on me

    Not at all, and understanding why this is, is essential to our debate.

    If I forced you to not be Christian, that would be forcing my secular beliefs on you. If I force you to not forcibly convert people to Christianity, I’m protecting people’s right to choose their own path. Can you really not see the difference? Your stance on reproductive rights forces people to live by your beliefs.

  15. “Honestly, if science was able to pinpoint when a fetus became a baby at, say, 8 months, would you change your position at all? I’d change mine.”

    Good. Then once you research the embryology textbooks you’ll be a pro-lifer.

    “Science” already decided. You keep raising questions of philosophy.

    “I can still see the Bible your holding behind your back. ”

    Sigh. Once again you haven’t proved that even if I led with my Bible why that would be a bad thing. And you are calling me a liar (your prerogative, of course, but simply untrue). And you are exercising religious bigotry.

    And, once again, you ignore the religious types who support abortion that do lead with their perverted view of God. That’s conventient for you, isn’t it?

    “The basis for my beliefs on reproductive rights stem from science and a respect for women.”

    So what scientific proof do you have for your abortion views?

    And what does respect for women have to do with it? Virtually all gender selection abortions crush and dismember females (along with 50% of other abortions). They are killed solely because they are the wrong sex. Let me know how supporting the legality of this demonstrates respect for women.

    If you want to respect women, donate to Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which help women in their time of need – especially when the men in their lives are pushing them to have abortions.

    If you want to respect women, speak out against gender selection abortions and push to make them illegal.

    “Why lend legitimacy to an outdated patriarchal religion’s political arguments about why we ought to control women’s wombs? Church does not belong in affairs of the State.”

    Was the original Hypocratic Oath religious? I didn’t think so. What scientific advancements did we learn that made the physicians take the anti-abortion part out? Seems to me that everything we’ve learned about the unborn destroys the “outdated” blob of tissue lies and supports the fact that the unborn are human beings.

    “Your stance on reproductive rights forces people to live by your beliefs.”

    By that “reasoning” your stance on abortion forces people to live by your beliefs. So what?

    “If potential truly had weight, then preventing people from having sex, using protection, or taking the pill would all be acts of murder. That logic simply does not hold up to scrutiny.”

    If they are potential humans then have potential abortions. Of course, they are not potential humans, they are human beings, by scientific definition (unique DNA, chromosomes, etc.). Using protection doesn’t destroy a living human being. I can’t believe you’d conflate abortion and protection.

  16. “Honestly, if science was able to pinpoint when a fetus became a baby at, say, 8 months, would you change your position at all? I’d change mine.”

    BTW, since you are using an example of chronology from conception, then I can say definitively that “science” could never change my mind. That’s because we have countless examples of preemies born before that time. Using your logic, if you “proved” that 8 months was the magic number, then a preemie born at 6 months would be fair game to be destroyed the first two months out of the womb. That is where the “personhood” argument leads you.

  17. P.S. Your fetus/baby distinction misses the point scientifically. The entity didn’t magically change with the brief trip down the birth canal. Fetus, baby, toddler, adolescent, teen, etc. are merely stages of human life. They are human beings with inherent worth at each stage.

  18. And of course, how about those awful Theocrats who gave their lives to end the slave trade and legalized slavery? Do the critics think William Wilberforce et al should have been stopped from “forcing their views” on people?

  19. one problem Dominionist theocrats who have hijacked evangelical christianity in American do not tell openly except to their own are their goals:

    1.) Banning of drinking (Prohibition II)
    2.) Banning of Gambling
    3.) banning of dancing
    with the 1st three if it is fun, it is “sinful” and must therefore be banned
    4.) Fundie-Dominionist censorship aimed at suppressing ALL music, TV, films, books, etc, they deem “offensive” to fundie-Domminionist Christianity
    5.) Relegation of women to PERMANENT 2nd class citizenship…ie no reprouctive rights, no marriage rights, and most importantly NO VOTE
    6.) Legallized “Jim Crow” laws against the LGBT community (about 10% of US population BTW
    7.) Banning of science/history not in line with fundie-Dominionist views
    8.) Banning of all non-fundie-Dominionist Christian faiths with state-sponsored persecution
    9.0 Banning of all business on Sundays ie “Blue Laws” I thought we successfully killed these in the 70s.
    10.0 Legallized state sanctioned enforcement of their religious “law” in America

    Fundies like Robertson, Falwell, and Kennedy HAVE OPENLY DECLARED their intent to replace our secular Constitutional republc with a Dominionist
    theocracy. I will defend the right of a fundie to freely practice his faith. I’ll even defend his Constitutionally granted right to disagree with me. But when a fundie crosses that line and uses his religion to deny liberty to myself or others I draw the line and he becomes my eternal enemy. I am eternally opposed to fascist theocracy and all who would DARE trying to impose it on America. Sic semper mors theocratis et tyrannis!

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