Advocates for “The Unborn”

Dave Barnhart

“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.

Pastor Dave Barnhart

Image taken from Saint Junia United Methodist Church under Fair Use. Their website says, “A community of sinners, saints & skeptics,” which is pretty cool! I saw the quote above in graphics form on Twitter and knew that I had to share it. -FM

4 thoughts on “Advocates for “The Unborn”

  1. The late David Graeber (died way too soon) had a slightly different angle, which I’m not sure I agree with 100%, but it’s worth repeating.

    Essentially, that there’s a class angle to this stuff. If you’re civic-minded and rich, you can get a job with some noble-intentioned charity. But that’s going to mean an internship in SF or NYC, not cheap places to live on zero income. And you’ll need a degree from an expensive college.

    Being super-religious or “supporting the troops,” those are things available to civic-minded people with fewer resources. It feels like doing something, which most people would like to feel.

    Where I disagree with Graeber is that those are the only working-class options. One could, for example, empty bedpans at the VA. It’s a difficult job, but it’s definitely needed — far more so than almost any religious stuff. Unless you’re helping organize your church’s food drive, some churches do important things like that.

    • OMG! I didn’t know that Graeber had died. His Debt book was fantastic (if depressing).

      Yes, I tend to disagree as well. There are a tremendous number of ways to do Good Works. Of course, there are things that get in the way. One thing is that low-paying jobs are exhausting — physically, emotionally, intellectually, or all three. Another is that our society does not push such activities. I think a person would have to be very limited to think “supporting the troops” provided them with a sense that they were doing something for their society.

  2. Some further interesting observations, from Katherine Stewart’s book “The Power Worshippers,” about the rise of the religious right, which I’m starting to read. Early supporters of abortion rights? Barry Goldwater, Betty Ford, Billy Graham, and Ronald Reagan. Early opponents? Hubert Humphrey, Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, and Joe Biden. Things have changed!

    • For many of the opponents, it was kneejerk anti-Catholic sentiment. It’s not so much people’s positions on abortion that bother me; it is the centrality of the issue for conservatives. I’ve often thought about what would happen if the left gave up the issue. And my conclusion is that the right would just come up with another bullshit issue to keep the Christians frothing. Because the only reason they are against abortion is because they were told to be against it. When I was a kid, the Baptists in my family never talked about abortion. Now they don’t talk about anything else!

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