Overview:

In a blunt lecture, a Christian anti-abortion advocate scolds the pro-choice community about civil rights and ends with a big slice of Godwin’s Law.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Take a look at how a pro-life advocate wrapped up his argument. I don’t know when I’ve been talked down to so overtly.

This is from “All Human Beings Are Valuable” by Tim Barnett (part 1 of my response to his article is here).

The debate isn’t over when life begins. That’s settled science. The debate is over when life is valuable. You see, pro-lifers argue that every human being, regardless of race, or gender, or size, or age, or ability, is valuable simply because they’re a member of the valuable human race. You don’t earn your right to life by having certain characteristics like the correct race, or gender, or size, or ability, or age. No. You have it in virtue of being human….

Folks, we’ve been here before. The Nazis referred to some humans as life unworthy of life. Does this sound familiar? Pro-life proponents, religious or not, believe all humans have a right to life, including unborn humans.

Wow. Just … wow. Do I laugh? Do I cry? Do I grab a barf bag?

I didn’t realize that conservative Christianity was the engine behind every U.S. civil rights improvement. With Barnett representing conservative Christianity, I now imagine him standing behind President Johnson as he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I see him arm in arm with African-American civil rights leaders in Selma in 1965. I’ll mentally place him at every major civil rights milestone since. I’m picturing him today as the Pride parade marshal sitting in the back of a convertible, draped in a rainbow flag and waving to admirers.

Yes, Martin Luther King was a Christian pastor, but modern evangelical Christianity doesn’t trace its civil rights roots back through Dr. King. Yes, a century ago Christians were at the forefront of social change—prison reform, child labor laws and compulsory public education, women’s suffrage, pure food laws, and more—but social improvements like these are of no interest to today’s Evangelicals. And yes, William Wilberforce was a Christian who led the anti-slavery movement in Britain in the early 1800s, but Southern pastors of that time had easy work making a godly pro-slavery argument based on the Bible.

A cake that’s not done cooking isn’t a cake—it’s just batter.

Last time I checked, conservative Christianity was not leading the civil rights parade. Obergefell (same-sex marriage becomes legal nationwide), Loving v. Virginia (ditto mixed-race marriage), the racist policies of Bob Jones University—conservative Christianity seems to always be dragging its heels, forever on the wrong side of history for every civil rights issue. Conservative Christianity’s political wing, the Republican party, is right now behind gerrymandered districts and laws designed to disenfranchise people of color. We mustn’t forget that “conservative” means resistant to change.

Pro-life Christians, check back with us after conservative Christianity builds a track record of positive change aimed at improving lives. Until then, don’t compare us to Nazis or lecture us about the superiority of your moral position.

That’s not to reject the idea that all lives matter, but the lives we’re talking about are those you don’t need a microscope to see.

See also: Why Is Christianity Conservative? Shouldn’t it Be Leading the Charge for Change?

Summary

We’ve covered a lot in these two articles (part 1 here). Here are some takeaways.

  • The “But my argument isn’t religious, it’s scientific!” argument is bullshit if they’ve redefined words to support a predefined conclusion against abortion. That kind of biased thinking is how religion works, not science.
  • The attempt to reclassify these pro-life arguments as scientific rather than religious fails. With their argument back in the Religion bin, the conflicting religious opinions from Judaism, the Satanic Temple, and more are back in play. That means that the zero-tolerance Christian pro-life argument has no more standing than the Jewish argument that abortion is part of a complete program of health care.
  • The redefinition of “human being” to encompass zygote (single cell) to newborn and everything in between fails as a thought experiment, it isn’t common usage, and it fails as a dictionary definition. The spectrum argument shows that the focus is logically placed on the enormous difference between zygote and newborn, not the uninteresting similarity.
  • The spectrum argument is useful when it forces the anti-choice Christian to confront the many differences between zygote and newborn by naming that spectrum. Simply putting a name on it makes plain that, no, a single microscopic cell and an eight-pound newborn are not the same thing.
  • The example of self-righteous bluster for the moral high ground above may help prepare you for seeing it in your own discussions.

A Steinway piano takes as long to complete as a human baby. It’s not a piano on day one; at best it’s a stack of lumber. It’s only a finished piano when it comes out of the factory. In the same way, a cake that’s not done cooking isn’t a cake—it’s just batter. And a fetus is not a baby.

Pro-lifers claim to be defending life, but equating a newborn baby with a single cell and forcing that on society by law doesn’t celebrate life, it denigrates it.

See also: Five Emotional Pro-Choice Arguments

What harm would it do if a man told a good strong lie
for the sake of the good and for the Christian church
… a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie,
such lies would not be against God,
He would accept them.
— Martin Luther

CROSS EXAMINED After graduating from MIT, Bob Seidensticker designed digital hardware, and he is a co-contributor to 14 software patents. For more than a decade, he has explored the debate between Christianity...