Today we are reminded that there is no separation of Church and State in the United States. Today we are reminded that the conflation between the Conservative Christian Church and the Republican party is almost complete—both in ideology and practice.
The ideology that drives the political Pro-Life movement in large part is Conservative Christianity (also called the Christian Right, and the fundamentalist Evangelical Church, more specifically, the White fundamentalist Evangelical Church).
The reason why most conservative/fundamentalist Pro-Life Christians cannot approach the abortion issue with logic is because they are not concerned with logic or reason in the same way as those who embrace secular and pro-choice stances. They are concerned with their ideology (primarily), which dictates their entire world view.
They will likely never be moved by arguments that unplanned pregnancy can be dramatically reduced by birth control (trust me, I've tried) because their ideology dictates that God is in charge (then men, then women), and He has a very specific, very prescribed plan for our lives. They will likely never be moved by accusations that they don't care about babies, that they aren't really "pro-life" because their ideology operates on a completely different plane.
Their ideology dictates that people should not have sex outside of marriage (particularly women) under any circumstances. And when they do, bad things will happen. Yet, when people live life the way God intends, only good things will happen.
Their ideology dictates that men and women get married early, have sex only within the confines of marriage, and then let God be in charge of their fertility (their ideology also dictates that women should stay home and raise the children and men should be the wage earners).
Their ideology dictates that if people just lived the *right* way, then there would be no need for...birth control, abortion, divorce (or gay marriage, or unisex bathrooms, or gender equity, or..., or..., or...).
The problem with this line of thinking is that their ideology isn't really faith-based at all; it's culturally-based. Their theology is not rooted in any authentic religion, but rather in a patriarchal and racial social hierarchy where white men sit on top worshiping a god that ironically looks and acts a whole lot like them.
The Conservative Christian movement has the intention of converting others; that's the definition of Evangelism; that's the "Good News" they wish to share. How do I know this? Because I used to be one of them. Not really, but I tried very hard from about the age of 13 when my family began attending an Evangelical Church.
I tried to be a good Evangelical off and on throughout much of my early and middle adulthood (usually when my life blew up and I believed the rhetoric that it was because I had done something wrong, and was living an un-Godly life). I attended Evangelical churches, I taught at Evangelical colleges, and I even completed one year at a conservative school of theology. I've attended more Bible studies and small groups than I can count. I know the dogma well.
Thank god (literally) I was a terrible Conservative Christian. Thank god I saw through the rhetoric and finally had the courage to walk away. I battled a ton of shame and fear during my path out, but I walked away and I'll never go back.
So here's the thing my friends. We need to fight this ideology, and we need to fight it with all of our collective might. We cannot afford to be subtle any longer. We cannot afford to be gentle, to be polite.
A review of history reveals that this toxic ideology, this cultural tradition, has extremely deep roots, particularly in the United States, particularly in the South. This patriarchal and racist ideology has tentacles that wrap around every institution in this country. That is why it's so hard to dismantle. That is why it's so insidious.
You show me a hard Right Republican politician who supports the abortion ban legislation in Alabama and Georgia and I'll show you a politician who identifies as a Conservative (fundamentalist) Christian who has conflated religion with party, religion with nationalism, and religion with culture. I will also show you a politician who has no intention whatsoever of keeping their extremist Christian ideology separate from their government service (e.g., Gov. Kay Ivey identifies as a "born again" Christian and had references to Jesus and Christianity throughout her official Government social media until she was legally forced to remove them).
Today is a discouraging day for those who embrace secular and/or progressive values (this includes people of faith). But don't think for one second that we haven't made progress; we have. And don't think for one second that we aren't going to win; we will.
But in order to win we need to be really clear about what it is we're fighting. We need to be really clear about what this ideology is and where it's rooted, and rather than continuing to yank at the top, we need to reach down and grab this toxic ideology, this very dangerous culture from its roots.
We need to be really clear that when we confront Conservative/Fundamentalist Christianity, we aren't attacking real Christianity, or really, any religion at all. We're attacking a patriarchal and racist **culture** hiding behind a cloak of religion. We're attacking a cultural system that has as its goal the dismantling of anything and everything that doesn't fit within its very narrow confines.
If you are a Christian and you hear someone attacking Conservative Christianity, please resist the temptation to explain to them that your brand of faith isn't like that (we know that Methodists, UCC, Unitarians and most Catholics are cool).
And if you're a white man and you hear someone attacking patriarchy, please resist the temptation to explain that despite being a white man (particularly an older white man), you aren't like that. We already know you're an ally (that's why we're still our friend on Facebook).
And if you're White, particularly a White and you hear people attacking the White Evangelicals who voted in this administration and these politicians, please resist the temptation to explain that you aren't racist (and then read the book 'White Fragility').
Let's become determined. Let's develop razor sharp focus. Let's band together and call this what it is: Conservative Christianity in all of its patriarchal and racist forms must be rooted out and stripped completely from our society.
And, in its place let's install authentic faith (spiritual or secular), based on abundance, not scarcity; grace, not condemnation; inclusion, not isolation; and egalitarianism for EVERYONE, not social hierarchy in any form.
Dr. Michelle Martin is a social worker, policy specialist and Assistant Professor at California State University, Fullerton in the Department of Social Work, where she teaches social welfare policy, and researches dynamics related to immigrants, political asylum-seekers, refugees and other displaced populations.