Last week in Part 1, I made a comparison between firearms and the contents of a human placenta because some folks get awfully upset when other folks and the state try to tell them what they can and cannot do regarding both. That posting focused on state control related to abortion. Then, we had an unexpected half-time show from the Executive Director of North Dakota Right to Life.

This week’s entry will address some points made by Brock Schmelling (always happy to help a young person in public policy with job security) and discuss some discrepancies in the tactics used by those who rely on religion in their fight to ban safe and legal abortion.

First, what I took from Schmelling’s piece is that there is no debate to be had, because a doctor on said life begins at conception, end of story. We’ve been hearing doctors say a lot of funny things lately, and I’m not going to make a joke at Ben Carson’s expense because it’s too easy. The debate is over, which is why it has been sucking the air out of national politics for years. Hmmm.

Secondly, Schmelling notes that we should support men facing an unplanned birth “when relevant.” Thus, women must be forced to bear the consequences of their actions while men are allowed to skedaddle. Apparently it’s worth the effort and tax-payer dollars to force women to give birth, but forcing men to stay in the picture is just too much of an effort. Hmmm.

Thirdly, Schmelling gives alternatives to abortion such as volunteering at pregnancy centers and maternity homes. I have no objection to this, and actually helping out doing something tangible would be much more useful than standing with a sign in front of the women’s clinic bothering patients. The issue I do have is that he offers no ways to assist women in raising their children after they are newborns. A plug for paid maternity leave, help with daycare expenses, clarifying what kind of health insurance North Dakota children are eligible for, or information about food stamps would have been a nice compliment.

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]If Christians are so concerned about stopping abortions, they should be talking about this in services on Sunday and not on the sidewalk in front of the RRWC. [/mks_pullquote]

This, however, was obviously not going to happen. We’ve all heard the saying that “it takes a village to raise a child.” It’s not exactly intuitive to cast a vote for candidates who simultaneously pay lip-service to banning safe and legal abortion and support policies that would seriously hamper ability of parents and the village to raise a child.

You can almost hear Kevin Spacey playing a Republican version of Frank Underwood on House of Cards delivering the following tidbit to the camera:

“To be honest, most of us at the top of the party don’t really feel that strongly about banning abortion. Everyone has them, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Sikhs. But as long as we make the religious right to life folks feel like we’re on their side and help them get a small victory once in a while, they turn out as our foot soldiers and we give them credibility. But we don’t want to actually overturn, Roe v. Wade, you see, because once that battle is won, they’d look at the rest of our platform and notice that it’s basically what Jesus preached against. You’d be surprised how many elections single-issue voters can swing. We don’t like using the good church-going people as pawns in this great country of ours, but as you and I know, that’s how the game is played.”

If Christians are so concerned about stopping abortions, they should be talking about this in services on Sunday and not on the sidewalk in front of the RRWC. Catholics account for more than a quarter of all procedures and Protestants another 37%. If these tactics don’t resonate in the pews, then why do activists expect them to resonate with the general public and lead to circus-like environments like this that nobody wants?

There is a cynical answer to this: Some people really need to be seen by others as “good Christians.” Does God give bonus points for prayer in public? Actually, I think I remember learning something at Shanley that kind of states the opposite. I guess a lot has changed in ten years.

Words of wisdom by Pope Francis have illustrated that the Catholic Church actually does have concerns other than abortion, like social justice for people around the world and helping the needy.

Fighting for those things, however, often means making enemies out of powerful interests and needing a lot of background knowledge even to get the campaign going. Simply calling women who have had or plan on having an abortion “baby-killers” is much easier, because then one can check the box for being pious and call it a day. Plus, these women usually don’t fight back and just wait for these folks to go away. This is not exactly the definition of an honorable crusade, and it seems to only happen in the US. Something doesn’t feel right.

Cynicism and politics have always gone hand in hand. People rely on the Church to help them move beyond cynicism to something higher, through faith. In the marriage between the Religious Right and the GOP, the reputation of the Church is taking the larger hit to its credibility, and this should be troublesome for many.
Sort it out on Sunday, not the sidewalk.

Author’s note: On the subject of Shanley High School, it does seem like there are many older alums that don’t even recognize their school now because the experience they had (pre-Bishop Aquila) focused on academic excellence, the aforementioned social justice issues, and community service. This new iteration of SHS seems to have tunnel vision on using its student body to indoctrinate the community. If it is agreed that God hears our prayers even if no one is watching, and that the mission of SHS is apparently to “save” all of those in which it comes in contact, this writer suggests the following: 1) Bless the Fargo municipal water supply, 2) Throw some frankincense and myrrh into the eternal flame outside Sanford on Broadway, 3) Recruit some of the sixteen year olds driving the foreign luxury vehicles in the SHS parking lot to cruise around town with the windows down and the system up blaring this. Let me know how that goes.