People seem shocked that after two decades of watching conservative Christians succumb as easily as fish to a worm on a hook to the daily Right Wing Panic du Jour Machine I am not joining in Friday’s Panic du Jour about Biden’s completely predictable pro-choice press release for Roe v. Wade Day.
This was to be expected. The issue will be what he does, not what he says.
Abortion rates saw their most precipitous declines under Clinton and Obama/Biden. They went up under Trump. We have to break the spell of imagining that everything rides on outlawing abortion. It’s never going to happen because neither 80% of Americans nor either party wants it. We either live in reality and address it or we go on with the fantasy that the GOP will meet–or even cares about meeting–this goal. Neither party has the slightest intention of outlawing abortion. It’s just that the Dems are honest about it.
We also have to get over the idea that we elected a Pope and not a President. Biden is not a perfect Catholic. He is an average Catholic. We need to face that–and realize that it is up to us to change that and not expect it to change by magic.
This is all about making disciples and not just sacramentalized Catholics. Biden is actually way ahead of the curve in a dozen ways when it comes to wanting to implement Catholic teaching. But because the “prolife” movement’s idée fixe of abolishing abortion has turned it into a political movement that pits the unborn against all the forms of human life MAGA wants to rob, harm, and murder, they tend to respond to stuff like Friday’s statement with despair, a tribalistic resolve to display mindless hostility to everything their culture war enemy does–and to extend that to any and every teaching of the Church he affirms out of pure spite.
The folly of treating Biden as an enemy instead of as a partially evangelized Catholic is the core stupidity of the MAGAfied Catholic. There is so much to work with in this guy. It drives me nuts that his blind spot on abortion in turn blinds conservative Catholics to what an enormous gift has fallen into the lap of the American Church. We should be Priscilla and Aquila to his Apollos, not enemies.
Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately. (Acts 18:24-26)
I think he is completely sincere about his commitments to those parts of Catholic Social Teaching he has been trained to see and really takes seriously his duty to the poor. I want to see what he puts his back into, not have hysterics and give up as the Right Wing Panic du Jour machine urges. Friday’s boilerplate was expected, but I think his energies will be focused on the priorities given in his inaugural, which was notably quiet about abortion. He’s got enough on his plate with pandemic, white racist domestic terrorism, the economy, and trying to repair Trump’s damage. My money, as ever with Democrats, is on him maintaining the status quo (which is all the GOP does too), followed by focus on all this other stuff.
I’m interested in what works in lowering abortion rates, not in performative piety and in-group shibboleths that please MAGA “prolifers” with the worst judgment on planet Earth. Until the “prolife” movement gets it through its thick skull that the endpoint of their strategy for 40 years was not the abolition of abortion but their complete prostitution to Trump’s Cult of lies and death, nothing will change.
What if conservative Catholics extended at least as much charity to Biden as they so eagerly extend to Catholics like Barr, ACB, Kavanaugh and the rest of the Catholic jurists when they look straight at the Church’s teaching about the death penalty and order the slaughter of mentally ill rape and incest victims in open defiance of the Church’s teaching.
After all, Biden forces nobody to get an abortion. He simply says that the regime 100% established and entrenched by GOP SCOTUS judges should remain and allow women to get an abortion if they want. It is a passive form of dissent from Church teaching, but it is balanced by his eagerness to reduce economic pressure on women to abort.
But the Conservative Catholic “Prolife” Heroes on the SCOTUS really did directly and actively compel the slaughter of these human beings when the Church demanded they do the exact opposite. The quietude and even passionate support of “prolife” Catholics for this far more aggressive form of dissent from Church teaching is but one of the thousand ways in which the MAGA “prolife” movement has completely pissed away its capacity to persuade pro-choice people that they care about human life or intellectual consistency as they now have the vapors about Biden.
Only a whole life ethic can provide a firm footing for a discussion about the moral problems with Biden’s pro-choice advocacy. MAGA hypocrisy and bloodlust only makes clear that what matters to them is the use of the unborn as human shields for all the cult of death malice that undergirds their utterly incoherent demands that Biden be a “good Catholic” like them.
Evidence for this is seen in Simcha Fisher’s response to the “AHA!” messages she got from MAGA “prolifers” who immediately pounced on her after the Biden press release:
Can I just . . . I know Biden is pro-choice. Everybody knows Biden is pro-choice. Your mic drop links on my wall proving Biden is pro-choice aren’t making any kind of point at all. I don’t even like the guy. Go buy a box of diapers for your local pregnancy center if you’re looking for something useful to do.
The folly of the MAGA “prolife” movement is that it burns up far more of its calories on witchhunts trying to sniff out the impurity of a prolife mother of ten like Simcha than it would ever spend on just getting a life and doing one practical thing for the unborn. When they are this eager to burn somebody like Simcha at the stake, how in hell do they ever expect to persuade people who really are pro-choice that they are not a pack of braindead Inquisitors?
The first problem the “prolife” movement faces is that, so far from making converts of people who are on the fence about abortion, it is much more keen to purge people like me and Simcha, who have been prolife all our lives, who are more prolife than they are, who are absolutely committed to the Church’s teaching, and yet who are viewed by the majority of them as “infiltrators”, suspects, and enemies to be driven out, not as allies to be welcomed. So-called “prolife” conservatives have wasted decades telling people like me that we were not “really” prolife because we opposed the death penalty, or torture, or unjust war, or Trump, or their right wing lies, bullshit and cruelty, not because we supported abortion.
If you do these things when the tree is green, O MAGA “Prolifer”, how in hell do you ever hope to change the hearts and minds of people who really do see nothing wrong with abortion?
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” (Matthew 23:14-15)