Secular Pro-Life: A New Religion

(This blog post is a transcript of this video:)

I was asked by a prominent member of the secular community to take a look at a group that has dubbed itself “Secular Pro-life”, a group that is tabling at the 2014 Salt Lake City Atheist Convention and makes the claim that all of their arguments against abortion are secular and non-religious in nature.

This is a topic that I’ve always found rather fascinating. I was raised in a strict Judaic upbringing so I’ve always considered the pro-life position on abortion law to represent a two-fold threat; a threat to not just the rights of women but to the right of my religious group of upbringing to practice their religious beliefs when it comes to abortion.
I was also once one of those young men who were placed in the unfortunate position of having to fight his way past protesters to help take a loved one to have a needed abortion, an abortion that she would die without. So I’ve always had a multi-faceted interest in the abortion issue and over the years have done a certain amount of study on the topic. I was genuinely curious because while I’ve heard quite a few arguments against abortion that claim to be secular in nature, as of yet none of those arguments that have been presented to me have been logically consistent. In fact the presentations of the majority of alleged secular arguments against abortion are distinctly religious in nature.

When I say; “religious in nature”, I’m not talking about the promotion of a claim to divinely inspired knowledge that comes to humanity as a commandment that abortion is murder. I’m speaking about a religious belief that despite having its origins in Catholic doctrine, a religion that revamped and reestablished its position on abortion around the turn of the 20th Century (a position in America that was driven largely by Protestant vs Catholic politics) the anti-abortion religious belief has over the past century evolved into what has become an entirely new religion.

That new religion is the religion of Fetus Worship.

In some ways Fetus Worship is very similar to the Catholicism it originated from. The Fetus has been given a place of reverence and worship that transcends that of the everyday person, much like the canonized saints of Catholicism. Like the more lurid versions of the Sacred Heart Jesus icons, (the icon many of you know as the bleeding heart Jesus) followers of the Pro-life religion take graphic images and display them in an effort to shock and evoke an emotional response from both fellow worshippers and the often startled and dismayed non-believers.

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Often these images are offset by pictures of beautiful, innocent children, very similar to the iconic imagery that is the Madonna and baby Jesus.

madonna

They have a priesthood that creates their doctrine and spreads it to their followers who repeat that doctrine dogmatically, in the face of all logic and reason. In an effort to gain converts they go out of their way to mislead the general public, misrepresenting facts and statistics or just creating them out of thin air. In this they have a great deal in common with Scientology, another religion that lays claim to a secular, science-based doctrine.

Like almost all religions, at some time or other a portion of their followers have descended into fanaticism and resorted to terrorism and violence. Not just the more subtle forms of terrorism that consist of intimidation tactics such as stalking patients or for example staking out the homes of doctors and giving fliers to those doctors neighbors or pressuring the community to take part in the ritual known as “shunning”, but the more violent form of terrorism that consists of thousands of incidents of not just attempted arson, and attempted bombings, but also successful arson, successful bombings, a slew of bomb threats and vandalism, and a number of murders in the name of the being they worship: the Fetus.
Their open-air churches are the parking lots and sidewalks in front of abortion clinics, they have non-believer outreach centers which are dedicated to indoctrinating pregnant women into the ways of fetus worship. These centers are an unusual form of cult since the indoctrination is only required to hold out for a maximum of less than nine months.

All of the above are common characteristics displayed by many religious groups; the pro-life movement contains them all. Given the gradual growth of the Pro-life religion in America I found the prospect of this anti-abortion group alleging to be entirely secular intriguing.
I spent some time browsing their site, looking at the writings by some of their bloggers. From what I saw the arguments and tactics being used by secularpro-life are the same tactics that Christian groups such as Operation Rescue use. The presentation is more sanitized and civilized but nevertheless it is the same.
What will now follow over the next few weeks and months will be a series of blogs and videos that examine secular-pro-life and show that they are in fact, members of this new religion, the religion of Fetus Worship, that the tactics and arguments they use are no different than those used by the anti-abortion religious organizations out there who have been attempting, quite successfully, to shift the dialogue that is the abortion debate from a religious debate to the appearance of a scientific-philosophical debate. Something they have so far proven quite adept at doing at great cost to all Americans.

I see the creation of a group claiming to be entirely secular and pro-life to be the final, natural stage in the social development of an issue that started almost two centuries ago. From a strictly socially empirical perspective, their coming into being is quite exciting; you don’t often get to witness the start of a new religion. But from an ethical stand point I find what they’re doing quite unacceptable.

As to Secular pro-life tabling at the American Atheist convention? If after examining the facts as I present them you accept my argument that they are in fact, a new form of religion then no, they do not belong there. If you do not agree with my conclusions, then whether they belong there or not depends entirely on the nature of what the American Atheist Convention is and what it represents. While my presentation of secular pro-lifeism as a newly identified religion may be a radical concept my criticisms of their logic and reason are not and if American Atheists represents solely atheists then you could argue they do belong there. Being an atheist does not make you exempt from having illogical and irrational beliefs that are based on poor logic and dogmatic thinking.

But if the American Atheist Convention lays some sort of claim to not just secular thinking but also critical thinking, logic and reason? Then that is another matter entirely. Regardless, I do look forward to meeting the members of the secular pro-life alliance at the American Atheist Convention this April.

If you’re interested in hearing more, then subscribe to this channel as well as my blog where I’ll be placing a transcript of this video for those who prefer reading to listening.

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14 thoughts on “Secular Pro-Life: A New Religion

  1. Words: 1.226 . Content: 0. What a load of bollocks this is, explaining how atheism is a religion and how Dawkins is a high priest… I start wishing there were a god who would just zap stupid people off the planet…

  2. “In some ways Fetus Worship is very similar to the Catholicism it originated from. The Fetus has been given a place of reverence and worship that transcends that of the everyday person, much like the canonized saints of Catholicism.”

    I do not believe that the fetus is more or less relevant that mine or yours. You and I are just grown up fetuses! I do not subscribe to this believe you mentioned and I do not worship anything.

    “Like almost all religions, at some time or other a portion of their followers have descended into fanaticism and resorted to terrorism and violence. Not just the more subtle forms of terrorism that consist of intimidation tactics such as stalking patients or for example staking out the homes of doctors and giving fliers to those doctors neighbors or pressuring the community to take part in the ritual known as “shunning”, but the more violent form of terrorism that consists of thousands of incidents of not just attempted arson, and attempted bombings, but also successful arson, successful bombings, a slew of bomb threats and vandalism, and a number of murders in the name of the being they worship: the Fetus.”

    In no way have I ever been a part of such violence and I am as opposed to that as I am abortion or war. That does sound like a religion but I am not of that type and it does not describe me. I happen to think that secularprolife.org can be a great resource for those who are being excluded by other religious pro-life groups.

    This myth that you need knowledge of religion, politics, or science to want to protect life of anyone is irrational. The primary reason that pro-lifers focus on the unborn is because they are the least able to defend themselves. I believe that being pro-life is more than just protecting babies, but if we can’t move past that, then we cannot yet move onto anything else.

    • “I do not believe that the fetus is more or less relevant that mine or yours. You and I are just grown up fetuses! I do not subscribe to this believe you mentioned and I do not worship anything.”

      I did not say all pro-lifers fit this description.

      No, we are not “grown up fetuses”. That is an inaccurate description intended to do a run around on the concept of “what is a human being”.

      And if you believe that abortion should be legal then you are ascribing greater worth to fetuses over that of born humans – full stop, no way around that.

      “In no way have I ever been a part of such violence and I am as opposed to that…”

      As are many followers of Islam. No where did I say all Muslims all or fetus worshipers are terrorists.

      “I happen to think that secularprolife.org can be a great resource for those who are being excluded by other religious pro-life groups.”

      I happen to think they use a lot of the same irresponsible tactics and promote the same lies the Christian anti-abortionists use; think and have shown in further videos on the topic. That doesn’t really make them a great resource for anything but propaganda.

      “This myth that you need knowledge of religion, politics, or science to want to protect life of anyone is irrational.”

      How curious, you’ve ruled out everything but God and intuition.

      “The primary reason that pro-lifers focus on the unborn is because they are the least able to defend themselves.”

      Red herring. It presupposes that fetuses are in need of defending. You have yet to have proven that they’re something that needs “defending”. It also presupposes that if they are alive, their pain and death would have more meaning than all the other people who cannot defend themselves and end up dead but are of no importance to the pro-life movement because they aren’t “the least able to defend themselves”.

      This is what I mean when I speak of a religious worship of fetuses. You presuppose that they are more worthy than any other thing because you have given them this the characteristic of “most vulnerable” and you see something worthy of obsessive attention in that.

      It is interesting that you disprove your own initial statement with your own words. It may or not be a religious worship but it is certainly something unique.

      • My views on abortion are different from those of anyone else I know. To me, killing an unborn baby is exactly the same as killing an adult.

        I don’t want to rule out “intuition” or even “God”, but as of this time, I don’t believe in the God of Christianity because even if that God exists, he has been of no help in ending abortion, war, rape, or natural disasters.

        I admit that I am running on mostly emotion, but I don’t think I need more reason. Maybe I misunderstood your original post. It gave me the impression that you thought all pro-life people were religious.

      • That’s an honest and introspective response.

        No, I don’t think all pro-lifers are a member of what I’d call the “pro-life religion”. I’m really talking about the hard core protesters who have taken their activities to extreme levels and have achieved a cult-like status. I plan to do one more piece on SPL’s tactics and then a few addressing their actual arguments.

        Then I’m going to take some time to pull together the needed components to present my case if I still think the hypothesis is viable.

      • I am certainly not the hard core protester. I do believe that many pro-lifers have the right heart, but they do things that are not helping anyone. I think that making a difference takes time and experience. I am just getting started.

      • Why do you consider a fetus equivalent to a person? Calling a fetus an unborn child (a logical impossibility by the way) is just an emotional trigger and doesn’t change the fact that they are substantially different. I understand this has an emotional basis but what are the reasons behind those emotions?

        I had my only child when I was 46. Terminating the pregnancy with an abortion was a very real possibility given the risks that came with my age. Before the time for decision making came I carefully considered every aspect of the situation that could be known ahead of time. because I had the facts — you and your ilk didn’t and never will for me or anyone else. But I never placed his potential value above my known value, the way you have placed the value of a fetus’s potential above the extant value of a woman’s life. He was never a person to me until he was separated from me and drew breath. Until then he was me, if I died then he would never be a person, he would not have existed in any kind of way that would identify him as a person.

        There’s a reason abortion rights advocates call anti-abortionists anti-woman, misogynists and woman-haters. They consistently place the value of a potential person not only above a woman’s value as a whole extant person but also above her rights to make her own decisions about her body, her ability to make those decisions and her right to privacy in health care.

        This doesn’t just happen with abortion but with essentially all reproductive medical care for women. Imagine my anger, no it was rage, I was just medicated by then, when the OB that was going to do the c-section to prematurely deliver my baby questioned my decision to also have a tubal ligation. Again I was 46, my doctor’s acted like an unassisted conception at that age was a literal miracle, severely ill with something that would be repeated in subsequent (as if) pregnancies but apparently I was too incompetent to make the decision to eliminate a life-threatening possibility. however unlikely, in the future.

        You do not have the right nor the information necessary to make healthcare decisions about me or any other woman that you aren’t intimately involved with (and even that is pretty limited.) Nor are fetuses that aren’t in your own body any of your business. They certainly don’t need protecting anymore than a woman’s gall bladder, kidneys or liver need protecting because none of those things are people.

        P.S. I apologize for any incoherence or typos, I have a broken hand and one-handed typing just can’t keep up.

      • I’m not sure if you meant to address your comment to me but I don’t consider a fetus a person. I acknowledge that dependent on the nature of the State (what sort of constitution the state/ country has adopted) a fetus may have some rights assigned to it as a person (much like with a corporation) but those are legal rights, definitely not natural rights.

        Otherwise; well said. I’m amazed when I hear about doctors second guessing patient’s decisions when they shouldn’t.

  3. I have spent some time reading Secular Pro Life and they seem to rely on two main arguments:

    1) Appeal to Nature/Naturalistic Fallcy: the zygote has the inherent capacity for rationality, it just has not yet expressed it (but trust us, it’s there). The uterus was made for the fetus, so the woman can’t say no to a pregnancy, pregnancy is completely natural and therefore good, and no woman should ever not want a fetus in her.

    2) Responsibility objection. If a woman has sex, she is responsible for putting an innocent human being in a state of ‘existential dependency’ and she must pay the price for her ‘actions’

    Basically, their arguments are not at all that far removed from the religious arguments. Nature is just a stand-in for god and the soul, and ‘responsibility’ is more slut-shaming.

    If you press them hard enough, they will admit that yes, they are special pleading on behalf of the fetus, and discriminating against women (which is where the responsibility objection comes, she’s guilty for having sex), but, they will simply shrug their shoulders and say ‘but that’s life; no other situation is like pregnancy /shrug’

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