In typical fashion, a Christian megachurch pastor heard a rumor, did no investigation of his own, then passed along the lie to his congregation during a sermon. That might sound par for the course for white evangelicals, but in this case, it’s particularly egregious because the anti-abortion lie that was spread was also used to justify anti-transgender bigotry.
Blake Bergstrom, the lead pastor of ONE Church in Peachtree City, Georgia, told the lie last week. It was later shared online by @ChristnNitemare:
… I’m gonna preach for just a minute… and this has been heavy on me all week. I type it and then I delete it. I type it and delete it. But I feel like the Lord wants me to say it, okay? For example, I never have thought that I would see the day that lawmakers would choose that it’s perfectly fine and okay to murder a baby after it’s been born.
In Colorado, it’s seven days. In California, they’re making the law for 30 days after the baby is delivered!
If a lawmaker is making a decision to murder the most vulnerable of our humanity, then how can we trust those lawmakers?
And not just that: If we’re making laws that’s asking me to call a boy a girl, and call a girl a boy, it’s madness.
It’s truly amazing how God always wants evangelical pastors to spew right-wing talking points and never anything progressive…
Anyway, Bergstrom is referring to a myth that made the rounds on conservative websites that Colorado and California were legalizing infanticide. If that sounds absurd to you, you’re right. They didn’t do that. Of course they didn’t do that.
Here’s what they actually did: Both states, because they’re controlled by Democrats, are well aware that Republican-led states are quickly pushing through anti-abortion bills with the expectation that the Supreme Court will soon overturn Roe v Wade (or at least make it all but dead) and let states decide how to handle abortion. The Democrats are making sure abortion is legal in their states and strengthening the laws already in place.
When the text of California’s bill was released, it pointed out that pregnancies may end for a number of reasons, including abortion, miscarriage, and stillbirth. The proposed law would make sure women aren’t prosecuted for any pregnancy that ends prematurely (including in the case of abortion)… and also aren’t punished if their babies die soon after birth for pregnancy-related reasons.
Let me repeat that: A woman might give birth to a baby that literally cannot live on its own because of genetics, or a low birth weight, or bleeding that won’t stop. It’s just a tragic situation for everyone involved because the woman wanted to have a child. Imagine that grief-stricken woman being prosecuted for the death of her child, even though it was out of her control. It’s unimaginable cruelty.
This bill in California would prevent that from happening. It says that if a newborn baby dies for pregnancy-related reasons, then the mother won’t face prison time, because why the hell should she?! It’s a perfectly sensible addition to the law.
Now, if a baby is born and someone decides to murder it, then guess what? All the murder laws still apply. That’s illegal. That has always been illegal. No one is arguing otherwise.
All of that was clear when the bill was initially introduced. But after the right-wing outrage machine took the wording of the law out of context, the bill was amended to make the intention even more clear.
But what did Bergstrom do? Instead of acknowledging the grief of a mother in that awful situation, he lied to his Christian audience about the intention of the bill and made it sound like Democratic lawmakers were sanctioning the murder of newborn babies… before adding that such immorality meant we couldn’t trust them, including on matters relating to trans people.
Why did he say all this?
Because he’s a liar.
Because he knows his Christian audience is too ignorant to ever call his bluff.
Because being a Christian, in his mind, means regurgitating every rumor you read online and never bothering to do any research into the matter.
Because he just doesn’t give a shit about what he says from the pulpit.
As long as he gets to push an anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ agenda to his church members, he’ll say anything no matter how untrue it is. That’s what Jesus represents to liars like him. That’s the white evangelical way. I mean, it’s not like that strategy is new. Why stop now?
The thing that’s most distressing about his lie is how he pretends that God really wanted him to say all this… and how the audience is completely silent while he shares the lie. No one in that church has the courage to publicly challenge his bullshit. They’re as complicit in this lie as he is.
By the way, the amendment to the California bill (that clarified how it only applied to post-birth deaths that occurred for pregnancy-related reasons) was made weeks before Bergstrom gave that sermon. That suggests he didn’t even bother reading the bill before complaining about a version of it that never existed.
Bergstrom is just a complete moral monster. And anyone who takes him seriously is part of the problem.
Don’t bother waiting for an apology. Pastors like Bergstrom never admit their lies. They just double-down on them.