Donald Trump Is Not “Pro-Life!” 

In case you’re thinking about voting for trump because he’s pro-life,  think again. Despite his 11th hour “conversion” to pro-life talking points,  he is certainly the most pro-death candidate in the race.

I’m not the first to make this point. Matthew Lee Anderson at Mere Orthodoxy makes this point very well from a consevative perspective, Rachel Held Evans makes it from a progressive perspective, and Shannon Dingle has made it well from a largely non political perspective. 

Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein, and Gary Johnson all oppose increasing restrictions on abortion. They’re “Pro-Choice” as the terms go.

Clinton has repeatedly said that while she does not want to ban abortions, she wants to make them rare, largely through education and contraceptive access that will prevent unwanted pregnancies, and also through an increased social safety net.

Donald Trump has shared the same pro-choice opinion for his entire career, until he realized he needed evangelical votes to win. Since then he’s “seen the light” and worked in some anti-abortion talking points. Few people believe he’s actually going to follow through on any of it.

The American Solidarity Party is strongly pro-life, but they aren’t on many states’ ballots.

The Lancet and the Guttmacher Institute have both found that, worldwide, abortion rates don’t go down when the penalties for abortion go up. 

Instead, the lowest abortion rates are present when a greater social safety net takes away the “desperation abortion,” and where contraception and education about contraception is freely and easily available.

Think about it:  prohibition didn’t work on alcohol in the 1920’s. The drug war hasn’t settled people from doing drugs,  and gun bans don’t stop criminals from getting weapons,  even when the whole country bans them (Mexico, for example). 

Back alley abortions are extremely easy to do, much easier than constructing or smuggling an illegal gun, or even making meth.

A lot of people present the typical abortion as involving some self-involved, cosmopolitan, well-off woman who just can’t be bothered to fit a baby into her busy social schedule, or who doesn’t want to lose her tight abs and gain post-pregnancy stretch marks.

That’s a great talking point for the Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akins of the world, but that’s really all it is. Abortions mostly happen because women are struggling just to survive (and take care of any kids they already have), and don’t think they can take care of another child. In fact, according to The Lancet, married women are the most likely to get an abortion.

Increasing the social safety net takes away that fear factor, and abortion rates adjust downward, naturally. Providing easier access to contraception also reduces abortion, so the Hobby Lobby’s of the world’s can’t really call themselves pro life in any meaningful way. 

During Reagan and Bush 1’s Presidencies, abortion rates began to fall. During Clinton’s presidency, they fell rapidly. During Bush 2’s Presidency, the abortion rate fell, but more slowly. During the Obama Presidency, the abortion rate fell 13%, a faster fall than under any of the Republican Presidents.

So while the abortion rates have been falling overall, there’s no reason to believe they’d fall faster under Trump than under Clinton, and some small evidence to believe the reverse might be true.

So that leads us to other aspects of being “pro-life.”

I mean, if you only care about abortion rates, you’re not really pro-life, just anti-abortion. And what good is that, really?

  • Clinton is certainly less likely to get us into another ground war. To be sure, she’ll use air power liberally (no pun intended), and kill far more people than I’d find acceptable, but Trump will almost certainly do much, much worse things.
  • A former CIA diector has labeled Trump a threat to national security
  • Clinton is less likely to tear families apart through bigoted and impractical mass deportation scenarios (Muslims, Mexicans, or whoever Trump names off next).
  • Oh, and speaking of worse things: Clinton is against torture, while Trump has advocated torturing and killing the families of suspected terrorists. This is unspeakably evil, a literal crime against humanity.
  • Clinton is far more likely to reform our justice system, bringing some reduction in the number of people killed by police and the outrageous percentage of our population that we keep incarcerated (more than any other sizable country, by a huge margin).
  • Clinton is more likely to support policies that will support families and mothers, like paid maternal leave, widespread health insurance, and social safety nets for economically disadvantaged mothers-to-be.
  • Clinton pushed for CHIP, a program that has provided medical care for huge numbers of otherwise uninsured children over the last 19 years.
  • Trump has been accused of sexual assault by several women, and his hateful misogyny is clear. I don’t know if this matters to the pro-life crusaders,  but it matters to me. 

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that some of the third party candidates might be just as pro-life or more so. Stein and Johnson are much more dovish than Clinton. The American Solidarity Party is dovish, pro-safety net,  and anti-abortion in every way. They are also anti-LGBT+ rights and borderline theocratic, so your mileage may vary.

    At any rate, none of them have a viable chance in November.  They didn’t even meet the threshold to be included in the debates. 

    That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t vote third-party. Just be realistic about the outcome. 

    Trump or Clinton will be our next President. 

    As far as lives lost and destroyed go, I think there’s really no question. Fewer people – born and unborn alike – will be killed, maimed, and tortured under a Clinton Presidency than under a Trump Presidency. Bottom line.

    And that means Hillary Clinton is as close to pro-life as we’re gonna get this year. 

    First Sin: Worshiping Rome (Repenting in Sackcloth and Ashes Part 2)

    Roman logo: SPQR

    Lord, I come before you now to repent of the sins I have participated in, specifically the corporate sins of American Evangelicalism. Forgive us, for we have desecrated your name in the eyes of the world. Forgive us, for we have made a mockery of your salvation.

    Those outside our faith say we are immoral, and, Lord forgive us, they are often right.

    Today, I repent of worshiping Rome. Not the Rome of the Catholic Church, but the new, democratic Rome of America.

    I repent of tying myself so closely to today’s political parties that I put my hope in Washington D.C.

    I repent of  ignoring terrible injustices, even atrocities (torture, willful killing of civilians) and voting for “God’s chosen party” anyway.  That I let myself by infiltrated by the world’s “the ends justifies the means” mentality, and became little more than a lapdog for opportunistic, pandering power-mongers.

    I repent of internalizing corporate-sponsored attitudes toward the poor. I hear Christians talk contemptuously about “welfare queens” and people who are “too lazy to work,” and I know this is an insult to You, oh God. Yet I have to admit that I have said the same words.

    I repent of letting pro-life lip-service suffice. The nations with the lowest abortion rates in the world are those in Western Europe, where a social safety net shelters pregnant women from the fear of not being able to raise the child. Is it really pro-life to say “outlaw abortion,” in one breath and “cut welfare” in the next?

    I repent of all past militarism. I gave my support to the Iraq war, despite being advised to caution and discernment by a very wise WWII veteran. I know first hand from my own past cowardly stupidity that it’s very easy to be gung-ho for war when you know you’re not going to have to go and fight. I repent of being generous with the blood of my countrymen, and stingy with my own.

    But most of all, I repent of confusing America (a country I love) with Christianity. America is a great country. I still believe that. I think I will always believe that. But it is not God’s Chosen Nation. Americans are not God’s Chosen People. America is not The City on the Hill. And I repent of ever letting that creep into my subconscious.

    I repent of all these things in myself, and for those things done in my name by religious organizations I have been affiliated with. I bear blame for both, directly and by association.

    We Will Get Fooled Again

    Every election cycle, complaints rise about how divided America is. Many bemoan the incivility (which is a problem), others, like Matthew Yglesias, argue that division is a sign of a healthy democracy.  I think I’d feel better about our democracy’s ‘health’ if the divisions were actually real.

    Four years ago, my conservative friends and family were beyond worried what would happen if Obama were elected. The pundit-verse was alive with conspiracies, Jeremiads, and dire warnings of socialism, a dismantled military, and persecution of all Christians. A guy with a chalkboard explained how it all traced back to George Soros and Josef Stalin. Clearly, the sky did not fall.  Sure, the economy crashed, but it did its face plant in late 2008, before Obama was even sworn in.

    This year, my liberal friends were having similar concerns about Romney. If he was elected, he’d find a way to outlaw contraception, set feminism back 50 years, invade Iran, barbecue the poor and feed them to the rich (ok, maybe they meant that one metaphorically).

    We’ll never find out whether Mitt Romney was secretly a misogynist christofascist theocrat or just a big-money businessman who thought he could run his campaign the way he ran his businesses. I’m guessing it’s the latter.

    The truth is, Obama’s first term has largely been George W. Bush’s third term. The “indefinite detention without trial” prison at Guantanamo Bay is still open. Granted, he’s stopped waterboarding prisoners, but our Nobel Peace Prize-winning President has replaced that practice with constant drone strikes with massive civilian casualties, and without any outside oversight as to his kill list (ahem, “disposition matrix”).

    President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is congruous with Bush’s new prescription drug benefit for seniors (way to court the AARP vote, there W. And it only cost $400 billion a year). Oh, yeah, and Obamacare was written by Mitt Romney, before he ran for president and had to pretend it was unconstitutional and evil.

    Both Bush and Obama are both are military interventionists (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya). Both are corporate-approved. Both signed massive bailouts to big banks and corporations. Both have done almost nothing about immigration, abortion, or gun control.

    Obama has distinguished himself in two areas, however. He’s deported more people than Bush, and he’s done far more raids against medical marijuana growers in California. The nerve of that dirty hippie socialist, deporting illegal immigrants and raiding pot-smoking cancer patients!

    Seriously, we will survive. We survived eight years of Bush. Okay, twelve, really. We’ll survive four more. And, if things go as they have been, we’ll survive eight more, probably from a Republican (your turn!) but possibly from “the other” Clinton (tag team!).

    Move to Canada if you want, but don’t think you have any real reason to go (except for Vancouver’s Richmond Night Markets. Those are fabulous).

    Nothing’s really changed that much, nor will it change anytime soon. As The Who said … “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” But Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey had one thing wrong: We Will Get Fooled Again. And that’s okay.

    It’s not like our Hope is in Washington D.C., anyway.

    Wasted Vote? No, Clean Conscience.

    Eagle and American Flag  by Pam Roth, Creative Commons

    Photo by Pam Roth, Creative Commons

    I voted with a clean conscience today, and it felt GOOD.  I didn’t give my approval to Obama’s drone strikes against civilians in countries we aren’t even at war with.  I didn’t give my approval to Romney’s promise to continue, and possibly expand, those attacks.

    Four years ago, I let myself be suckered. I voted for “the lesser of two evils,” and I almost threw up on the way out of the polling place.  I knew it was wrong as soon as I pressed the button.

    Today I was grinning.

    It doesn’t matter that the third-party candidate I voted for won’t win.  It’s not like Mississippi is a swing state anyway. My vote went to “No, it is NOT right to kill Pakistani (or Yemeni, or any) children in my name.” My vote went to “No, America’s problems will NOT be solved by killing everyone who hates us.”  My vote went to “No, permanent war is NOT okay, even if it’s fought by remote control.”

    Don’t let anyone tell you you’re “throwing your vote away” if you don’t vote for one of the corporate-approved, militaristic professional politicians the GOP and Democrats serve up to you.

    Don’t let anyone tell you you’re a fool for opting out of the orchestrated drama wherein candidates who are 90% alike go to “war” over the remaining 10% … and then largely forget that 10% once they’re elected.

    Don’t let anyone make you compromise because “this election is the most important in history!”  They have said that about every election I am old enough to remember. And the two parties keep sharing power, sharing patronage, sharing money, and shedding blood.  Very little changes.

    Vote for the person you believe in, regardless of their “chance” of winning.  Don’t give your approval to things you think of as evil.  If you believe in the Democrat or Republican candidate, then by all means, give him your vote.  But don’t vote for the lesser of two evils.  Don’t do it.  Don’t give your sanction to evil.

    I know this is coming too late to affect anyone’s vote in this election.  But I couldn’t have written it before I voted, and between work and election day communion service at our church, this was the quickest I could get it posted.  But I stand by it.  Vote your conscience.  Be heard.

    7 Ways to Keep the Election in Perspective

    1) Pray for the other guy.  Whether you’re a fan of Governor Mitt Romney or President Barack Obama, or whether you’re like me and can’t vote for either man in good conscience, take some time to pray for “the other guy.”   Pray that God will guide him and give him wisdom.  This is especially necessary if “the other guy” is President Obama.  He’s our current President, and will be leading this country at least until January, and we are urged, as Christians, to pray for the leaders of our nation. [1 Timothy 2:1-2]

    2) Realize that neither guy is gonna blow up the world.  As Americans, we tend to make every election into an epic battle between good and evil, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.  Neither Obama nor Romney is going to “launch the nukes” on January 21st.  World War III isn’t coming.  They’ll keep bombing “militants” with Predator Drones, in countries (even allies like Pakistan) that are too weak to stop us, but they won’t pick on anyone our own size.

    3) Remember that neither guy is Nero or Caligula (or Hitler, or Stalin …).  Political partisans and Evangelical Christians have at least one thing in common: we’re all really quick to see ourselves as persecuted.  As Christians, we’ve survived much worse leaders, especially in the early days.  And there are much worse leaders in the world today, in places like North Korea or Saudi Arabia.  Neither man is going to bring back the Spanish Inquisition or the KGB. 

    4) Remember that we’re fighting over 10%.  Obama and Romney agree on a lot of things: the basic shape of government and entitlements, military interventionism, corporatist “capitalism,” and so on.  Most of the time, when one or the other party says they’ll “cut” a program (whether welfare or military spending), they mean they’ll reduce the rate of increase, not actually reduce (or even freeze) the current levels of spending.

    The two major candidates mostly disagree about things they have limited ability to change: gay marriage (which will be decided in the courts) and abortion (which has already been decided in the courts, and which the last four Republican Presidents managed to do almost nothing about).  Neither man is going to radically reshape America.  Governor Romney has even said he’d keep many of the Obamacare provisions, and Obamacare was far less of a radical government takeover than the healthcare systems most other industrialized nations have.

    5) Democracy, at least at the federal level, is mostly theater.  Nobody reading this blog has the power to make any difference at that level: it’s all multi-billion dollar corporations and political action groups.  You can make a difference at the local level.  If you want to get involved, there’s the place to start.

    6) Our hope is not in Washington DC.  Our hope, as Christians, is in the God who comes to us, the God who dwells within us.  Jesus is still our hope, our real leader.  As Dave Ramsey often says, we have to beat the recession in our own lives before we can expect America to recover.   It’s a cliche that we have to “be the change we want to see,” but it’s one that actually bears repeating.  If you want a more just, compassionate, industrious world, build those virtues in yourself and encourage them withing your personal sphere of influence.

    7) No matter who votes for whom, we are still one.  As Americans, we are one nation.  As Christians, we are one people in Christ.  And ultimately, our humanity makes us one with every person on the planet.  If we love as God loves us, we can transcend partisan bickering, transcend Facebook flame wars, even transcend big money bought-and-sold politicians.  We have hope, and we have to live that hope. 

    Beyond that, vote how you want.  Or don’t.  And Tuesday night, join in the Election Day Communion at a church near you.

    Election Day Communion

    Election Day Communion 2012

    Over 500 churches across the nation are gathering on election day, November 6, 2012, to hold communion.

    We gather to remember that whoever wins, God is still in control.

    We gather to remember that whoever we vote for, we are all still one in Christ.

    We gather to remember our brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer persecution, who don’t get to vote, who don’t get to gather publicly.

    We gather to pray for our leaders, whether we voted for them or not, that God will give them wisdom and compassion.

    We are gathering at South 28th Avenue Baptist Church.  We may be few in number, but we will gather.

    It’s not too late for your church to join the communion, to remember our unity.

    Remember, we are all one in Christ – liberals,  conservatives, independents, Evangelical, Reformed, Mainline, Catholic.  We are all one in God’s love, all saved by the same Son, the same Redeemer.

    Learn more here, at http://electiondaycommunion.org

     

    The Audacity of Losing Hope in Politics

    I know it’s easy, in this political season, to look at both candidates and lose hope.

    One promises hope and change, but wages a drone warfare against Pakistani villages, killing hundreds of civilians. The other speaks the language of conservativism and the Christian Right, but spent his career dismantling businesses and shipping jobs overseas.

    Both seem utterly in the grip of corporate interests.  Neither seems apt to bring an end to warrantless surveillance, extrajudicial execution, and indefinite detention.

    Yes, they’re different, but they’re different like Nero and Julius Caesar were different.  One may be worse, one may be better, but neither one will be truly good.  God warned Israel against wanting a king, but Israel persisted.  It looks like we’re still reaping that harvest now [1 Samuel 8:10-18]

    As you know if you’ve been reading this blog, I’m not going to be able to vote for either President Obama or Governor Romney, because of their use of (and acceptance of continued use of, respectively) Predator drones to strike Pakistani villages.

    Killing men, women, and children, burning houses, and terrorizing  entire towns semi-permanently?  Cruel and pointless.  Defining as “militants” any male of fighting age who happens to be found in these areas?  Deceptive and arrogant.  Hiding these actions from public scrutiny?  Disreputable and disgusting.

    Nobody seems to be taking this seriously.  Most of my ‘progressive’ friends and most of the Emergent Evangelical voices on the blogosphere are still singing the President’s praises, as if they’d never even heard of this.  My more conservative friends wholeheartedly get behind Mitt Romney, taking an “anybody but Obama” stance.

    Even the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson hasn’t ruled out continuing the drone-slaughter, even as he promises to bring the troops home.  Apparently, Pakistani lives are cheap these days.

    And both candidates who actually have a chance of winning are so beholden to corporate interests that we commoners hardly even matter.  Would I have voted for one or the other, if not for this slaughter?  Maybe, but it doesn’t matter now.  I won’t support this with my vote.

    I’ve heard people say that President Obama isn’t a real Christian, but never because his hunter-killer drones kill Pakistani children.  No, it’s because he’s pro-choice and pro-gay marriage.  I’ve heard people make similar arguments about Governor Romney, because his economic policies will hurt the poor.

    And everybody’s so gung-ho for their candidates that they seem to think the world will end if their man loses.

    The world won’t end.  Too many rich people have too much invested in this crony-capitalist, “too big to fail” model.  The world will only end when God ends it.

    And that’s the thing to remember.  God is not up for re-election.  God is the king of the universe, regardless of the popular vote or the electoral college.  As Christians, we have to remember that, and remember where our true loyalty lies.

    I’ve heard people question whether any true Christian can vote for President Obama.  And I’ve heard the same thing about whether any true Christian can vote for Governor Romney (not because he’s Mormon, but because of his regressive economic policies and his pseudo-Randian VP).  Frankly, both positions are ridiculous.

    Christians have a lot of reasons for voting for candidates, and questioning somebody’s commitment to Christ because they don’t share your political preferences is borderline blasphemous.  Election 2012 isn’t the Messiah versus the Antichrist.  It’s two rich, connected power-players competing for the most powerful prize on the planet.  If your conscience leads you to vote for one or the other, fine.  But shut up about God’s candidate.

    As Christians, we need to maintain unity, with each other and with our neighbors of other faiths.  Whoever wins will be our President, but not our true ruler.  You don’t like Romney?  You don’t like Obama?  Try living under Nero or Caligula.  Try being a Russian or Ukrainian or Lithuanian Christian during the Stalin years.  Though many were martyred, God preserved his church, and it flourished, even underground.

    To quote Longfellow, God is not dead, nor does he sleep.  No matter who wins or loses, we have to stick together, to pray together, to pray for whichever man makes it to the White House, to pray for our nation.  God is our Hope, not any man.