The Bible Says More About Unicorns Than Fetuses -- Maybe Anti-Choice Christians Should Take a Closer Read
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We know from those who were present at the birth of the Christian Right that it was actually a series of horse-trades by powerful men in conservative religious groups. Each group came with its own non-negotiable agenda and problems with the agendas of others. Catholics demanded that any alliance they joined must back the Pope’s edict against abortion, but Evangelicals were resistant since there was not enough in the Bible about fetuses to support a ban on abortion. Evangelicals, on the other hand, needed an unfettered capitalist market to perpetuate their dominance, and that ran afoul of the Catholic Church’s teachings about economic and social justice. Catholics agreed to down-play the issue of social justice (which is why Nuns on the Bus is such a problem), and Evangelicals agreed to take an anti-abortion stance despite the lack of Biblical support for it.
Most Christians do not know how that there is scant biblical support for fetal personhood because churches no longer teach biblical literacy. Instead, they teach ideological literacy and the isolated scriptural passages which support those beliefs. When I taught classes about the Bible to college students I was shocked to discover that students who had been in church all their lives had never heard the story of the talking donkey or what happened after Noah’s ark landed. This shift in biblical literacy has created an entire nation of Evangelicals who do not know enough about the Bible to question what they are being taught. The only reason that many young Evangelicals have begun to question their religion’s anti-gay stance is that they have been exposed to tons of religious and Biblical arguments made in favor of gay rights.
The success of the gay rights movement is why I believe we must begin using Biblical arguments to refute anti-choice religious claims. We are are losing reproductive rights even as the gay community is turning the tide of public opinion in their favor. I believe that a key reason why they are succeeding while we are failing is that we have been unwilling or unable to challenge religious teachings.
I believe that many Christians are looking for an escape clause from the rigid teachings of the personhood movement. They are uncomfortable with the government invading the uteruses of women, but they are even less comfortable going against what they believe are the commandments of the Almighty. If we give them the life raft of an alternative scriptural argument, I believe many will jump ship.
The one problem that I can foresee is that the Biblical teaching about personhood does not come in one easily quotable package. But if gay rights leaders could find a way of countering the passages in the Bible which are explicitly anti-homosexual, we can counter the incredibly weak and nebulous Biblical arguments against reproductive rights. It is up to the witty writers of our movement to craft succinct and even humorous arguments that will go viral across social media.
This article was originally published on Role/Reboot.