A Letter to My White Christian Pro-Life Friends, Part 3: My Choice

You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Dear White Christian Pro-Life Friends,

If you from time to time have second thoughts about what the pro-life movement is doing to our country, our faith, and your own soul, this four-part series is for you. I only ask that you read it prayerfully and thoughtfully, with an open mind and heart. I hope you will feel that I show you and your sincere involvement in the pro-life cause the respect you deserve, and if nothing else, I hope this series will help you participate in the movement more wisely and lovingly going forward.

When I carried my sign in the March for Life in the early 1980’s, I didn’t know that the pro-life movement was a wing of a larger movement, a larger movement with a hidden history that I outlined in Part 2. This movement used opposition to abortion as a rallying cry to bring Evangelical and Catholic pro-life Christians together to support the Republican Party with their votes and donations.

Through this marriage with the Republican Party, both political and religious leaders could vastly expand their power, influence, and income. With money came power, power to advertise, power to support and oppose candidates, power to create massive direct-mail and, later, email mailing lists. The donations of millions of sincere and well-meaning pro-life Christians joined the money of huge corporations, political think tanks, and political action groups to create a massive war chest to fund the culture war.

And every single dollar benefitted the Republican Party.

Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with being a Republican, of course. My dad was a loyal Republican, a good and generous Christian man, and I have voted for a few Republican candidates in my life as well, largely because of my involvement in the pro-life movement. But even my dad, in his last years of life, cast his last presidential vote for Barack Obama because he didn’t like where the Republican Party was headed.

My dad saw in his last years exactly what I was seeing: the Republican Party adopts policies that hurt people of color, that hurt the planet, and that hurt the poor, and they can count on pro-life Christians to support these policies because of abortion. Meanwhile, Republicans oppose the very policies that have proven most effective in reducing abortion, and to make matters worse, their Christian pro-life voters rarely if ever stand up for the poor, the planet, and people of color, because the abortion issue trumps everything else.

When I saw this, when I really faced it and let it sink in, I reached this conclusion: a group of political, economic, and religious powerhouses have combined efforts to use the unborn to win over sincere Christians (and others) to support their multi-faceted agenda, first incidentally, and then intentionally. With unlimited lobbying and marketing power at their disposal, they attracted people to the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, but gradually required them to support everything hidden beneath the surface.

From the 1980’s until today, the Republican promise to outlaw abortion has been the shiny moral issue Republicans present to the Christian world. But under the surface, they have bundled together a much larger set of commitments, which means that when you vote pro-life, you vote Republican, and when you vote Republican, you vote for all of the following:

Make abortion illegal through criminalization.

Assure that contraception not be covered by health insurance.

Separate families at the border, put children in cages apart from their parents, and instill the fear that family members may simply be “disappeared” by the U.S. government when they cross the border.

Increase access to guns of all kinds and do nothing about mass shootings, adopting the NRA’s policy of “the more guns, and the more destructive guns, the better.”

Deny people with pre-existing conditions access to affordable health care, and maintain quality health care as a privilege for the rich.

Deny climate change, oppose renewable energy, and support fossil fuels, gas guzzling cars, and the de-protection of public wilderness and indigenous lands through a “drill, baby, drill” philosophy.

Be unconcerned about facts unless they back up your political agenda, and create “alternative facts” whenever necessary.

Make it harder for minorities to vote by alarming white people about voter fraud, an infinitesimal problem which Republicans exaggerate, while simultaneously supporting voter suppression.

Oppose equal rights for LGBTQ  citizens, and protect the right of straight religious people to discriminate as desired against LGBTQ citizens.

Provide advantages for Christians and Jews, and disadvantages for Muslims and other religious minorities.

Promise to reduce the national debt while actually increasing it through massive tax breaks for the super-rich, and through massive military spending and military intervention.

Reduce social services needed by the poorest among us, including public transportation, public health services, childcare support, parental leave, etc., putting poor and vulnerable people in ever-greater risk, so tax breaks may be given to the rich.

Oppose sex education in schools.

Support the death penalty.

Support militarization and a new nuclear weapons race.

Minimize the value of higher education, keep it as expensive as necessary so that only the privileged can access it easily, and do as little as possible about student loan debt.

Support mass incarceration, the “war on drugs,” privatization of prisons, and other policies that discriminate against people of color.

Increase corporate profits for the rich by weakening labor unions, putting workers in a position of increasing insecurity.

Reduce public protections from mega-corporate misconduct, especially environmental protections, disproportionately hurting the poor and people of color as well as the planet.

Provide huge tax breaks for the richest of the rich, claiming that their increased wealth will “trickle down,” even though it doesn’t.

Shift funding from public schools to private schools, especially conservative Christian ones, again hurting poor and minority families the most.

Underpay teachers, first responders, health care workers, and childcare workers, and oppose all efforts to address the minimum wage.

Refuse to address systemic racism, or even admit it exists, and be more concerned about Colin Kaepernick kneeling as an act of peaceful protest during the national anthem than a police officer kneeling on a black man’s neck or shooting a black man in the back seven times.

Assist Israel in dispossessing Palestinians, and discount the civil and human rights of Palestinians, calling any critique of the nation of Israel an act of anti-Semitism.

Create widespread fear of immigrants, especially Mexican and Muslim immigrants, and actively or tacitly support acts of racist hate against minorities.

Stop accepting refugees.

See federal government (except the military) as the problem, and reduce government to a size where it can do little beyond fighting wars, leaving us vulnerable to pandemics, foreign interference in our democracy, and other dangers.

Accept that among white supremacists and neo-nazis there are “many fine people,” and refuse to consider the harm done by erecting and protecting Confederate monuments.

Hold sexually predatory men accountable — but only if they are Democrats.

Threaten NATO, the United Nations, and other international alliances, and coddle Vladimir Putin and other corrupt dictators.

Claim that moral character doesn’t count in political leaders, as long as they oppose abortion.

Accept 20,000+ lies from a president as inconsequential.

Support Donald Trump no matter what he says or does, giving him a free pass to indulge in every incompetence and every urge toward authoritarianism, etc.

I never would have joined my first Right to Life March if I had been required to accept any single one of these policies. But since 2016, it has become clear that millions of my fellow Christians have come to accept every single one because they are bundled together with opposing abortion.

I encourage you to go over that list again before proceeding and ask yourself how many of these commitments you would support if they weren’t bundled with the term pro-life.*

To put it bluntly, maybe early pro-life leaders thought that Republicans were the horse (or elephant) to pull the pro-life cart. But it is now abundantly clear that the pro-life movement has become the horse to pull the Republican cart and all its baggage, including baggage that hurts people God loves.

These and other misgivings explain why I now believe that the whole pro-life framing has been corrupted, and it has become harmful to the cause of life.

*Of course, if you  sincerely support the bundle of  policies I listed above and if you are unwilling to do give any of these matters a second thought, then you will vote for Donald Trump in November with great enthusiasm and complete confidence. And of course you won’t be interested in the request I would like to make of you in Part 4. So no need to read further. Thanks for reading this far.

If you are having misgivings of your own about some of these policies that your involvement in the pro-life movement actively supports, I hope you’ll read Part 4 with an open heart and mind.