Pastor Barnhart explains right-wing anti-abortion politics.

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Fnord
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04 May 2022, 3:44 pm

This message was truly written by the pastor.  Barnhart, who is a pastor at Saint Junia United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, first posted this message to his Facebook page in 2018.  At the time, Alabama politicians were in the process of passing an amendment to the state's constitution that would "recognize the rights of the unborn" in order to ensure that "state funds [would] not go to funding abortion care", according to AL.com.

The full text of Barnhart’s Facebook post read:

Pastor David Barnhart wrote:
"The unborn" are a convenient group of people to advocate for.  They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don't resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don't ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don't need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don't bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn.  It's almost as if, by being born, they have died to you.  You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re-imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone.  They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe.

Prisoners?  Immigrants?  The sick?  The poor?  Widows?  Orphans?  All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible?  They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn.

Read the Full Article  HERE 

The more I think about this, the more accurately it seems to describe every single one of the "Pro-Life" people I personally know.  They are all about protecting the unborn, but could not possibly care less for other people's children after they are born.  Never mind those who are both "Anti-Abortion" and "Pro-Death Penalty"; I mean those whose greatest effort in expressing their alleged "Christianity" is to say, "I will pray for you" while leaving you to rot in the gutter -- they are the same people who support laws against women's reproductive rights while pretending that poverty, discrimination, and abuse are the victims' own fault.

And Boomers wonder why their own children are leaving the Church.



Mona Pereth
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04 May 2022, 3:54 pm

Thanks for posting this.

Here's a Twitter thread "on countering arguments from anti-choicers."


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Mikah
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04 May 2022, 4:52 pm

It's just a bad faith argument, Fnord, a concealed ad hominem, dressed up as virtuous concern - because abortion fanatics can't win the real argument. It's been rebuffed by myself on this forum more than once and by others in other places:

https://winteryknight.com/2022/05/04/pr ... hinking-2/

Suppose you are walking down the street one day, minding your own business, when you hear screams coming from a nearby house. You run over to investigate, and a woman runs out to tell you her child isn’t breathing. You follow her into the backyard where you find a small child who was just pulled unconscious from a nearby pool. You call 9-11 and start performing CPR on the child, praying you will be able to save her. Paramedics arrive and take her to the hospital, and you find out that thankfully, she will live and make a full recovery. The local news happens to pick up the story, and you are hailed as a hero.

Then things take a strange twist. The neighbors who watched the whole incident take place but didn’t intervene inform you that the child is being raised by a single mom, and that if the child had a father around, she wouldn’t have stumbled into the pool in the first place, so why aren’t you doing anything to fix the problem of single parent homes?

The situation gets even more bizarre. A local advocacy group asks why you aren’t engaging in education efforts about pool safety. Other advocacy groups begin asking why you only focused on saving the lives of children who fall into pools and not children who die of gun violence, abusive homes, or from poverty. Then, when you attend church on Sunday, the pastor preaches a sermon about how Christ-followers must focus on the sanctity of all human life, not merely the lives of those drowning in pools. Finally, to top it all off, a few days later the child’s estranged father, who has been skipping out on child support payments all year long, gets interviewed on the evening news, where he accuses you of all manner of character failings, saying that if you had truly been concerned about the life of his child, you would also pay for her schooling, her basic needs, and would ensure all of her needs throughout life are met.

If this whole scenario seems absurd, that’s because it is. And yet, it matches real world events currently playing out for pro-life advocates.


...

As I’ve written about before, there are two types of people who raise the issue of consistency: Crusaders and Inquirers.

An Inquirer is someone who has genuine questions about what it means to be truly “pro-life”. She gets why abortion is wrong, but she is curious how her views about the value of human life in the womb should inform her when it comes to issues outside the womb. She also wonders why pro-life advocates focus more on abortion than other topics. Her questioning is honest, but often misinformed. Pro-life advocates will focus on abortion more than “outside the womb issues” because it is the only time in an innocent human being’s life we may enjoy the full protection of the law while we deliberately kill them. While an Inquirer may not still fully understand, she is on the right track.

The Crusader wants none of it. He’s just looking for a quick way to end the argument in his favor, and he will usually do it by making the pro-life advocate look stupid or wicked. He isn’t searching for an honest dialogue, he’s looking to win fights. John Pavlovitz is an example of a Crusader.

Here’s a simple way to defeat a Crusader: Call their bluff. When I’ve encountered Crusaders who charge me with being inconsistent in how I approach being “pro-life”, I usually ask a simple question:

“Tell me, if I became active on all the issues you brought up and agreed to support all your positions, will you join me in opposing abortion?”

They will almost always say no, to which I usually reply along the lines of “So why did you even bring up those other issues in the first place? If you think there is nothing wrong with abortion, then you need to defend that idea, instead of just attacking me personally.”


...


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04 May 2022, 7:19 pm

To Mikah:

I assume that what you consider to be "the real argument" is the question of when "human life" should be deemed to have begun?

For a refutation of common fundamentalist Christian religious arguments on this matter, see Christians in the Hand of an Angry God (part 4) by Brad Hicks.

Excerpt:

Quote:
So what does the Bible say about the intentional termination of a pregnancy? Nothing. That's right, nothing. It never comes up. Even in the holiness code, which takes time out to preach about the evils of mildew, there isn't a single thing about the intentional termination of a pregnancy. Lest you think this is because abortion didn't exist back then, suffice it to say that there's at least some evidence that human beings have known which plants were abortificants since, well, since before there were human beings. Cultures much older than the post-captivity Jews knew how to induce an abortion at will; one must assume that there were Jews who used that knowledge. And yet somehow the Bible never gets around to saying even word one against the practice.

So when the ministers of the false gospel set out to find some way to preach against abortion, they had to go digging. Now, one of the basic fundamental rules of legitimate Biblical exigesis that they teach you in seminary (or even competent pre-seminary religion classes) is that you should be very, very wary of the classic errors of exigesis, traps that Satan will use to lead you astray. Beware of quoting a passage out of context; beware of quoting a passage as saying something other than what it actually says, and don't go looking for tiny little passages that "prove" your point when there are much longer, clearer passages that contradict what you're trying to prove. But the leaders of the fundamentalist and Catholic seminaries threw these principles over the side of the boat so that they could prove the following malformed syllogism: (1) The Bible firmly opposes murder of human beings. (2) The fetus is a human being. Therefore (3) the Bible firmly opposes the murder of a fetus. May I assume that for the moment we all agree, subject to fine tuning and nagging caveats, that point 1 is a given? Fine.

So what slender thread of evidence do they use to prove their point that the fetus in the womb is a human being with a soul? Typically, they quote Psalms 22:9-10, Isaiah 46:3-4, and Jeremiah 1:4-5 in which God says to David, Isaiah, and Jeremiah (in that order) that He knew them while they were still in their mother's womb. Now, let me invite you to take a minute to read those three chapters, and let me ask you two questions about them. First of all, who are we talking about in those chapters: God, or the author? Is the point of the passage how old the author of the chapter is, when his life began, or is God talking about His fore-knowledge? And that leads to the second question: if God is all knowing, was there ever a time from the creation of the world to the present when the Bible says that God didn't know you? And since God knew you from the beginning of all time, why pick the moment when sperm and egg to unite to say when life begins? Maybe the old cynical joke about what Baptists believe is true, if your interpretation is the one to trust; maybe life does begin when the woman's bra is unhooked.

But if you're going to make that argument, you're going to have to explain how it's compatible with what the Bible does say, albeit in the holiness code that Jesus set aside human enforcement of in John 8:1-11. The only time the Bible actually explicitly talks about the termination of a pregnancy is as a complication in a criminal assault case. "If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine." (Exodus 21:22) In plain English (and equally plain Hebrew, I'm told), the Bible says that even in cases where the pregnancy is terminated against the woman's will in a criminal assault, it's treated as a property crime, with the penalty being nothing more than a monetary fine negotiated between the assailants and the woman's husband. Compare and contrast that with the penalty for murder (death), and then tell me that the Bible would treat the death of even, to use an unspeakably tired current example, "Connor" Peterson as a murder. If God thinks that killing a fetus is murder, why make the penalty so light and trivial?

Answer: because the Bible says when human life begins, when a person first obtains a soul, when that person has rights that must be respected. It doesn't say this out-right, but the implication is pretty plain, and it's the only interpretation that's compatible with the rest of the Biblical legal code. Consider the creation of mankind in Genesis chapter 2, and let me specifically call your attention to Genesis chapter 2, verse 7: "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Pay attention to the sequence there. When God made Adam from the dust of the ground, Adam was no six-week fetus. He wasn't even a newborn. Adam was a full-grown adult human being, and yet he had no soul until he drew his first breath. And that is why, until abortion became a political issue again around a hundred years ago and people went digging in the scriptures to try to find a reason to hate it, it was an assumed fact of religious law that the soul enters the body at birth. Indeed, it was long assumed on this same Biblical basis that the "death rattle," the rattling sound in the throat of many dying people as they exhale for the last time, was the sound of the soul leaving the body, and it was for this very reason that many Christian theologians were deeply disturbed when mouth-to-mouth resuscitation was invented.


(The above-quoted article is part of a series about the American Christian religious right wing. Here are Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 5.)


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Last edited by Mona Pereth on 04 May 2022, 8:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Fnord
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04 May 2022, 8:34 pm

The really sad thing about the articles Mona and I referenced is not so much that right-wingers will attempt to deny and dismiss them, but that the articles are generally predictive of right-wing attitudes and behavior.

This is not to say that every right-winger will always behave as predicted, but that they seem to behave as the two articles predict, more often than not.

And by “Right-Winger”, I mean those who try to justify their oppressive privileges with a false sense of self-righteousness coupled with willful distortions and mis-interpretations of cherry-picked verses from whatever ancient writings they deem “holy”.

The Christian Gospels, for instance, are full of accounts and parables demonstrating God’s love and inclusive intent. The right-wingers I know try to use those same accounts to justify slavery, genocide, and the oppression of women and people of color.

Sad.



Mikah
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05 May 2022, 3:15 am

Mona Pereth wrote:
I assume that what you consider to be "the real argument" is the question of when "human life" should be deemed to have begun?


Yes. The nature of the unborn and whether or when it is moral to terminate them.

Mona Pereth wrote:
For a refutation of common fundamentalist Christian religious arguments on this matter, see Christians in the Hand of an Angry God (part 4) by Brad Hicks.


You've linked that to me before in PMs. You might recall I don't use religious arguments in the abortion argument. I came to the pro-life side while still a non-believer.

Quote:
So what does the Bible say about the intentional termination of a pregnancy? Nothing. That's right, nothing. It never comes up. Even in the holiness code, which takes time out to preach about the evils of mildew, there isn't a single thing about the intentional termination of a pregnancy.


Arguments from absence are tricky. I've heard similar arguments in favour of the death penalty. I don't find "lack of condemnation in the Bible" a particularly strong argument in any matter.


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05 May 2022, 4:00 am

I think the key question with abortion is why we value some forms of life and not others.

If someone values human embryos ahead of bacteria, that suggests a kind of human chauvinism. This is a pretty useful heuristic, but I think most people will quickly reject it when some implications are highlighted.

Should we prioritise human skin cells on the same level as human embryos? There’s not really a significant difference between them in the moment, and they’re both human. At most, you could argue that an embryo has its own genetic code… but we don’t think murder is wrong because it kills a genetic code, do we? If you thought you were about to be murdered, would your primary concern be for your genes? No, we think murder is wrong because it kills a person, someone who values their continuing existence. Skin cells and embryos do not do so. We should therefore not prioritise them ahead of persons, and should hold them in similar regard to comparable organisms. In the case of an embryo, those should be microscopic or barely organisms that aren’t capable of what we would recognise as thought. As it develops, we should continue to treat it like other organisms which it is comparable to in that moment, such as chimpanzee foetuses.



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05 May 2022, 5:07 am

I'm not unwilling to attribute human status to fetuses. In such case, we should consider all the ethical arguments used in discussions about disconecting from life-sustaining care - and an additional one that in this case, the life-sustaining "apparatus" is a human being.

So far, I haven't seen this perspective in the public debate where I live.
Pity. I'd really love a respectful debate instead of the dirty ideological fights we're having here.


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05 May 2022, 6:52 am

I am ambivalent about the subject of abortion, but I do think it's interesting how many liberal pet causes seem to revolve around sterility, whether it's abortion, gay marriage, transgenderism, encouraging careers over families, or having vasectomies to tackle climate change.

Does the average liberal ever stop and think about why this is?



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05 May 2022, 6:54 am

slam_thunderhide wrote:
Does the average liberal ever stop and think about why this is?
I don't identify as "liberal" but I believe it's an effect of a belief that human population on Earth should not grow much bigger but culling humans would be a bad idea.


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05 May 2022, 8:14 am

What gets me is the huge number of men who believe they have both the right and the privilege of dictating what women can and cannot do with their bodies while disregarding the simple fact that, until a woman gives birth, the fetus IS part of her body.



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05 May 2022, 8:47 am

The_Walrus wrote:
I think the key question with abortion is why we value some forms of life and not others.

If someone values human embryos ahead of bacteria, that suggests a kind of human chauvinism. This is a pretty useful heuristic, but I think most people will quickly reject it when some implications are highlighted.

Should we prioritise human skin cells on the same level as human embryos? There’s not really a significant difference between them in the moment, and they’re both human. At most, you could argue that an embryo has its own genetic code… but we don’t think murder is wrong because it kills a genetic code, do we? If you thought you were about to be murdered, would your primary concern be for your genes? No, we think murder is wrong because it kills a person, someone who values their continuing existence.


Speak for yourself.

Life is about the propagation of genetic information. That is ultimately the source for why (most) individuals value their continued existence. This is true regardless of the fact that some people choose not to have children, just as it's true regardless of the fact that some people choose to commit suicide. And it's true regardless of whether people are conscious of it or not. And most people are dimly conscious of it in any case. For example-

Most people view genocide as a 'special case' of mass murder because they are aware on some level of the possibility of distinctive genetic information being lost to the world.

Many societies that allow humans to hunt animals still try to restrict humans from hunting endangered animals, again because of concerns about distinctive genetic information being lost.

When someone is facing an early death, they will feel fear and/or sadness for the ending of their own life, but they will often feel sadness for the children they will never get to have, or fear for the fate of the children they leave behind.

Also, it's not uncommon in times of danger for people to sacrifice their lives for the lives of their children or their 'tribe'. And most people on some level understand why this is so.

Frankly, the fact that none of this seems to impact on your thinking says a lot to me about your value system.



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05 May 2022, 8:50 am

I just still don't understand why this is such a huge issue in the US, because in the US abortion is legal most everywhere it seems and people can get them, so aren't people just makin a big deal out of something that is legal?



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05 May 2022, 8:51 am

slam_thunderhide wrote:
. . . the fact that none of this seems to impact on your thinking says a lot to me about your value system.
That you seem to believe your "arguments" should have an impact on other people's thinking is laughable.



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05 May 2022, 9:17 am

Fnord wrote:
while disregarding the simple fact that, until a woman gives birth, the fetus IS part of her body.


No, it is gestating inside her body.


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Fnord
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05 May 2022, 9:21 am

Mikah wrote:
Fnord wrote:
. . . while disregarding the simple fact that, until a woman gives birth, the fetus IS part of her body.
No, it is gestating inside her body.
Like a parasite, drawing nutrition from the woman and dumping its waste into her system.