Some months ago, I broke ties with the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers (ASF). I suppose it would be convenient for some among that group to conclude that I returned to belief in deity (I haven’t), but my motivation for parting with the only significant gathering of atheists within hundreds of miles isn’t about assertions regarding heaven and how one might arrive there upon death. I am concerned, instead, with how we all together might make hell upon earth. I’ll begin with the most egregious example: ASF’s advocacy for abortion-on-demand.
I’d like to think myself a child-loving man, but the truth belies such claims. I’ve previously stated my position that what one does with one’s own children is one’s own business, and for an extreme example, I suppose that, if pressed, I’ll have to admit that killing one’s own children falls within my general outline of parental child-ownership rights. [There’s much more to be said about so-called rights and when one becomes free from parental child-ownership, but we’ll save that for another post.] That darkly enlightened insight exposed, my opinion of exercising such Darwinian dead-end parenting skills is irreducibly small. If you kill your own children, you are more likely to be mentally ill than mentally fit. Exceptions apply, that’s why we recognize exceptions, but the basic premise is still valid: you have a right to kill your children, but killing your children is a sign of mental instability. If you kill your children, keep the fuck away from me and my kids.
With that established, I’d like to repost, for your consideration, the monofilament-thin justification ASF provided for its participation in a pro-choice rally back in January.
“The Arkansas Society of Freethinkers does not officially take any stance on the issue of abortion. One of our main principles is the defense of the separation of church and state. Many anti-abortion lawmakers cite or imply faith-based reasons as the primary or sole rationale for their legislative actions. ASF promotes and defends logical discussion and secular, evidence-based reasoning on the issue of abortion or any other topic.
“Our goal in having a table at this rally is two-fold – to promote ASF to this prime target audience, and to distribute copies of the FFRF [Freedom from Religion Foundation] non-tract [better described as an atheist anti-Christian tract], “What Does the Bible Say About Abortion?” (with ASF website and email contact info affixed). We want to educate Arkansans and our legislators that their holy book indeed has nothing to say on the issue of abortion, and instead contains numerous commandments of graphic violence towards women, children, and the unborn.
“We welcome any ASF members, pro-choice or pro-life, to attend in support or in peaceful protest of this rally.
“See the Arkansas Coalition for Reproductive Justice Facebook Page [Link omitted.]
“See Photos from last years rally [Link to photographs of ASF members and officers at 2013 rally omitted.]”
I won’t belabor ASF’s event description, but I’ll make a few brief points.
1. ASF does not take an official stance on abortion. Perhaps I’m quibbling, but one of the event organizers is a lawyer, so I assume the adjective isn’t accidental.
2. ASF purports to participate in the rally in defense of evidence-based decision-making in government by distributing copies of a document arguing that a religious text does not prohibit abortion.
3. ASF invites pro-choice and pro-life members to attend the rally where the official action of ASF is distributing pro-choice literature.
Here’s one last bit of information from the Wikipedia user page for one Anne Nicol Gaylor, regarding the FFRF, its founding, and its founder, the aforementioned user.
“While working on abortion rights issues, Gaylor felt the need to address what she saw as the root cause of women’s oppression: religion. She felt that the existing women’s rights organizations were not confronting this issue, so she founded the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) in 1976, along with her daughter Annie Laurie Gaylor and the late John Sontarck. [Sontarck was once treasurer of American Atheists. One wonders how he knew the Gaylors, and where Mr. Gaylor was when all this was happening around the kitchen table of the home he shared with Mrs. Gaylor.] She served as the president and executive director until her retirement in 2005. The group is currently headed by her daughter, Annie Laurie Gaylor, and son-in-law, Dan Barker. She currently works as a consultant for the FFRF and holds the position of president emerita. While she was president the group grew from three [duh, the founders] to over 19,000 members in all 50 U.S. states and Canada.”
So, let’s be clear about this one thing in particular: ASF officially participated in a pro-choice rally and distributed literature from a conspicuously pro-choice organization founded by a woman that felt she couldn’t effectively advocate for abortion without addressing “the root cause of women’s oppression: religion.”
So, here’s my message for the leadership of ASF. You aren’t fooling anybody. You’re advocating for abortion. Own it.
For my part, I oppose abortion-on-demand and support laws regulating state-licensed medical professionals’ participation in terminating pregnancies. I’m willing to discuss compromise and adjustment of the legal code through a democratically-elected state legislature. Parental responsibility begins with copulation, life begins at conception, not birth, and arguments citing worst-case gestation scenarios are reasons to establish exceptions to laws preserving life, not norms for killing.
I’ll provide further explanations (regarding other topics), for my departure from ASF in future posts.