With Unerring Wrongness, a MAGA “Prolife” Christian Analyzes the Election

Published December 3, 2020

“Doug” writes over on the Book of Face:

How and why did Biden end up with about half the Catholic vote? With what we know and believe as Catholics, how did that happen? It’s a question that’s been on my mind for a while. Abby and I have both talked about this before on our pages, but I think it’s time to bring it up again… we have to STOP DILUTING THE PRO-LIFE MESSAGE!!!

Did you know there are abortion supporters out there that say they are more pro-life than pro-lifers BECAUSE they support abortion? That’s absurd, right? But they say it because we have added too much to our plate. Being pro-life is about ending abortion, and making abortion unthinkable as well as illegal. That’s it!!! NOTHING ELSE!!! Being pro-life is not about climate change, immigration reform, kids in cages, human trafficking, capital punishment, police brutality, homelessness, the foster care system, adoption costs, mental health, universal health care, welfare… these are all issues that deserve attention, their own activists, and singular focus not to be fractured and divided out to everyone else. Do they have links to each other? Yes. Do they all have the same solutions? No. Do they sometimes work together, commingle, and help each other out? Yes. Do they all require the same experience and expertise? NOPE!! One group does not have to prop up and be responsible for all the other groups.

Do you get mad at cancer groups for not talking about heart disease or clean water in Africa? No?!? But the pro-lifers better have something to say about it. Planned Parenthood has a singular focus, and nobody gets onto them for not letting every other cause on the planet piggy back onto their platform and giant bank account.

Do you see what I’m getting at here? The enemy couldn’t divide pro-lifers on the issue of abortion, but he was able to divide us and distract us with everything else. We allowed it to happen, but with good reason. Most pro-lifers have a very can-do, challenge accepted, generous attitude. We have a consistent life ethic and we understand that we can’t just be pro-birth. But we have to STOP allowing others to hold our pro-life stance hostage based on other issues. Why? Because that’s how a bunch of Catholics (and other Christians) ended up voting an abortion loving, chaos creating, lying, corrupt, fake Catholic, that will do everything to take away our gifts, blessing, and hard earned money so he can give it all to the abortion industry.

I reply:

You are 100% dead wrong and this is everything wrong with the “prolife” movement. It would be great if your cult of frauds really did focus on saving the unborn. But that is exactly what you do not do. Instead, you claim focus on the unborn while instead devoting all your time to defending every lie Trump tells, defending kidnapping kids, defending Trump’s sexual assaults, defending keeping people in poverty, defending gun mania, defending the largest prison system on the planet, defending making war on the Church’s teaching on the death penalty and the environment, defending every sadistic policy the GOP wants to inflict on the poor and brown, and defending lie after lie after lie now being told to support the abject falsehood that Trump won. The only thing the unborn mean to your cult is that they are useful human shields for these, your real priorities.

Christian teaching is that life is sacred from conception to natural death. What you propose is pitting the unborn against, not relating them to, all the forms of human life your antichrist Trumpian theopolitical cult wants to rob, abuse, and kill. You aren’t focusing on the unborn. You are weaponizing them to achieve your true goal: raw, nihilist Trumpian power. Repent and return to the gospel.

I discuss precisely this false “prolife” approach in my book, The Church’s Best-Kept Secret:

The argument works, or seems to work, this way: Why should we spend time and energy on things like capital punishment or deportation or the fact that the United States is now a gigantic prison state when 1.5 million babies are dying each year? The same objection is typically advanced for nearly everything listed above. All these things are (goes the objection) “prudential judgments” and not gravely and intrinsically immoral as abortion is; therefore we can pass over them and, as the saying goes, “focus on abortion, which is non-negotiable.”

But the problem with this approach, as the language about “diluting the brand” hints, is that the Church’s teachings about these issues are not really passed over in favor of defending the unborn by those who use such language. On the contrary, the Church’s teachings are actively opposed by those who claim to, but do not, “focus on abortion.”

Here’s the deal: There is plenty of room in the Church’s tradition for specialization and focusing on specific issues, needs, and ills. Dominicans specialize in preaching. The Sisters of Providence specialize in healing and building hospitals. Jesuits found schools, and so forth. As Paul says, different members of the body do different things (see 1 Corinthians 12). So somebody who truly wants to focus on abortion and the protection of human life from conception to birth is perfectly free to do so.

But healthy members of the Body of Christ do not declare that other members “dilute the brand” by focusing on other issues or by caring about multiple issues at once. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Corinthians 12:21). Somebody who says “We need to address the sadistic cruelty being meted out to refugee children, snatched from their parents at the border and disappeared into a concentration camp system that cannot even figure out how to unite them with those parents again” is not “diluting the brand” of the Church’s teaching, nor “distracting” from abortion. They are simply being consistent about the Dignity of the Human Person from conception to natural death.

Likewise, the person who is fighting to uphold the Church’s teaching about the necessity of a living wage—a teaching as old as James 5 and the basis of the Church’s tradition that depriving the worker of his wages is a sin that cries to Heaven for vengeance, exactly like murder—is not somehow “distracting” from abortion. Indeed, one crucial point of the Church’s insistence on economic justice is that families cannot happen if people cannot afford to marry and have kids. Poverty, in fact, is the #1 abortifacient. A living wage is crucial to our dignity and to the foundation of families.

Another related issue is capital punishment. Recently, Pope Francis—echoing a call for the abolition of the death penalty also sounded by Popes St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI—formally changed the Catechism to read:

Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inad­missible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide. (CCC 2267)

This development definitively places the good of the human person over mere judicial retribution and says, in effect, that if we do not have to kill somebody we should not do it, even if they have it coming—especially since about 4% of our prison population (the largest on Earth) are wrongly convicted. Fighting this development in the Church’s teaching not only means killing people unnecessarily, but killing innocents in order to do it and (no small thing as well), turning ourselves into people who are willing to kill innocents in order to kill the guilty unnecessarily.

“But these are all prudential judgments,” returns the Focus-on-Abortion interlocutor. “Aren’t we free to disagree with the Church on prudential matters?”

Actually, no. We are not free to ignore, or worse, oppose the Church’s guidance without very grave cause. It is vital to remember that “prudential judgment” concerns not whether, but how best to implement the Church’s whole teaching. If your focus is on abortion, fine. Focus on it. But do not pretend to focus on it while actually spending your time and energy fighting against the Magisterium and in favor of capital punishment, fighting against Laudato Si’ and in favor of policies that harm the environment, fighting against a living wage and in favor of laissez faire capitalism (condemned since Rerum Novarum was written in the 1890s), fighting against a century’s worth of magisterial calls for universal health care and denouncing the Church as “socialist” to shout down that call. None of that is “focusing on abortion” and none of it is prudential judgment. It is weaponizing the unborn in order to fight the rest of the Church’s teaching by making the unborn the opposite of and competitor to all the human lives harmed and even killed by sins in these other areas.

17 Responses

  1. I have a lot of pro-choice friends on Facebook, and I can’t say any of them would agree that the pro-life brand has been diluted by caring about other life issues. If anything, the popular perception is the complete opposite and much more in line with Mark’s view. If the pro-life movement is going to continue in any meaningful way for another generation it is going to have to stop diluting itself with partisan politics. I know a lot of people who could get behind the pro-life movement if it had a morally consistent whole-life focus.

  2. I don’t think they honestly care enough to suffer for what they believe in. If they get a paycheck for being pro-life? Nope.

    I don’t think they care enough to follow the dollar–no–not their dollar, put directly into their account as they fight the “pro-life” cause. They need to follow the actual money trail and look at the defeat and subjugation of a now borderline middle class that can barely feed a would-be breadwinner.

  3. Not that you need any further information, but here is the pro-life industry inaction:

    HOLLAND, MICH. — The senior pastor of a church in western Michigan has encouraged his congregation to catch the coronavirus to “get it over with” and calling it “all good.”

    Bart Spencer made the statements during a Nov. 14 sermon at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Holland, The Holland Sentinel reported.

    “COVID, it’s all good,” Spencer said. “It’s OK. Get it, get it over with, press on.”

    As of Thursday, 380,343 virus cases have been confirmed in Michigan, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. More than 9,500 people have died from the virus.

    1. One thing that strikes me is that people who talk like that are inclined to think it is something like chickenpox – lifetime immunity (except for the unpleasant possibility of shingles, of course!). If what they are producing now as vaccines are effective – God grant they will be! – nevertheless, that will be the first case of a successful corona virus vaccine. The companies working on vaccines have warned that they don’t know how long the effectiveness will last. The ‘common cold’ is caused by one of a variety of corona viruses. Getting a cold may make you immune for a while; it certainly doesn’t make you immune for life.

      And not many die of colds…

      1. @jj

        You are quite right. My husband, who works in a hospital, and I were discussing this last night. He is going to get the vaccine as soon as it’s available in order to protect both of us. But I have no intention of letting my guard down even when I get the vaccine.

    2. What is it about American Christianity that holds willful ignorance and pseudoscience as virtues and a core measure of piety? At one time I might have thought of it as being a fundamentalist Evangelical thing – the people who believe in six day creationism, but Catholics and other denominations seem to be well represented in the Covid denialism and conspiracy movements.

      Even the actual Taliban, who are not known for STEM education or pro-life leanings in general took the pandemic seriously.

      I contracted the damn thing a month ago. As a generally healthy but far from prime fighting condition 50 year old guy, I feel very fortunate that it was not a serious case, but I cannot recommend the experience to anyone. It most certainly was not “all good.”

      1. @ken

        I am really sorry to hear you had it. We have managed to stay Covid free, despite my husband working in a hospital.

        I don’t think it is anti-Intellectualism as a Christian thing, but it is definitely an American thing. Isaac Asimov wrote some years ago that there has always been a strain of the anti-intellectual in American life, and it has always been seen as a virtue. The people who embrace themselves as true Americans, or the only true Americans, like the only True Christians, would to my mind most likely embrace that mindset, “the false notion that democracy means my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

  4. This is what Cucker Tarlson had to say. right to life until the very end, as long as it isnkt his.

    “If death is inevitable — and that may be the one thing you’re not allowed to say in this country, but it’s still true — then maybe we should pause before we destroy the living in the name of trying to eliminate it.

  5. You can always count on the pro-life movement to lend it’s full-fledged support to the destruction of the born. If you’re lucky enough to still be among the unborn, it will work tirelessly to see you take your place among the born. After that, you’re on your own.

    1. Untrue. They will also kill the unborn with COVID because their selfishness over being inconvenienced is more important. The unborn only matter to them as human shields. If they get in the way of their selfish appetites, the unborn deserve to die just as much as anybody else.

      1. So true. I meant to highlight the pro-life movement’s hyper-focus on “protecting the unborn” to the virtual exclusion of everyone else, but expressed myself poorly. As you explain the Covid situation, I take your point wholeheartedly about the impending danger to even the unborn through their lack of responsibility. It’s beyond ironic that the modern “pro-life” movement is a virtual cesspool of the culture of death it supposedly deplores.

  6. Doug wrote:

    Being pro-life is about ending abortion, and making abortion unthinkable as well as illegal. That’s it!!! NOTHING ELSE!!!

    This was the excuse Catholics used to collaborate with American neo-fascists. Never forgive and never forget.

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