Freedom From Religion and the Politics of Abortion

The Christmas wars are here. It appears that this year, the atheists are out in more militant strength than usual. There is a new missionary spirit to atheism. Not content with just not believing, more and more atheists want you to not believe, too.

On of the groups that has come to the forefront this year is the Freedom from Religion Foundation. This is mostly because they put an anti-religion sign next to the Nativity scene at the Legislative Building in Washington State. The sign, which concludes with, “Religion is but a myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds” made the news because it was stolen almost as soon as it was put up. (The same sign has been used in the Wisconsin State Capitol for years.)

The public face of the FFRF is Dan Barker, who used to be involved in various aspects of Christian ministry, including stints as a pastor and fulltime touring musician. He now goes around debating Christians and writing “freethought” music.

Dan is the co-president of the FFRF with his uber-feminist wife Annie Laurie Gaylor. The FFRF was founded by Annie and her mother Anne Nicol Gaylor.  They aren’t as effective as spokespeople because they didn’t covert from anything, but come from a heritage of anti-religion. Anne’s father regarded religious belief as embarrassing.

Anne made her name as an abortion advocate. She was editorialising in favour of it as early as 1967 in the newspaper she owned with her husband. By 1970 she had founded ZPG (Zero Population Growth) Abortion Referral Service. According to the FFRF website, between 1970 and 1975, she made more than than 20,000 referrals. This was despite the fact that abortion was illegal in Wisconsin prior to Roe v. Wade. In fact, it was illegal in every state surrounding Wisconsin. It was only legal in New York, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii. So unless she was referring women to facilities in those states, she was referring women for illegal abortions. She wrote a book called Abortion is a Blessing.

I don’t find it particularly surprising that “freedom from religion” is tied so closely to abortion.  After all, it is religious morality that is the basis for saying abortion is wrong. It is religious morality that says there are certain boundaries for expressing sexuality and abortion is often the solution to dealing with the consequences of operating outside of those boundaries. What better way to support abortion than to attack the moral basis that opposes it.

Its just a bit ironic that it is the philosophy and politics of abortion that comes to the forefront at the Feast of the Nativity.

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