Last Tuesday, Kristen Hatten, writing for Live Action News, wrote a piece that’s gotten quite a bit of attention, entitled “Atheists, agnostics, pagans, and more: do they have a place in the pro-life movement?”
First of all, let me say that I’m pleased to see this conversation is happening. It’s long overdue. And I’m in wholehearted agreement with Hatten’s ultimate conclusion, which is that “any friend of the unborn deserves a seat at our table.”
Hatten recounts that she was a pro-choice atheist, who then became a
pro-life atheist, and then a pro-life Christian soon thereafter. It all began with an abortion debate she had with a pro-life friend, and if that friend had “used religion as a basis for her argument, I not only would not have been convinced, I would have dismissed her entire thesis outright and probably would have ended the conversation.”
In light of this realization, it’s odd that in this very article, she assumes that her audience is Christian:
God has His ways. I believe they have been called “mysterious.” Perhaps we should be humble enough to accept they don’t always involve us being loudly right at everyone’s face. Are you right to say God is the number one reason to oppose abortion? In my opinion, yes. But being right is not always how you win an advocate for Life – or a soul for Jesus.
Of course, neither Hatten nor anyone else should be prevented from speaking about their religious beliefs, and it is not my intention to silence anyone. But Live Action is not a formally religious organization, and I know for a fact that Live Action News has at least one atheist author. There is no reason to think that the readers of Live Action News are exclusively Christian.
The unfortunate impression created by this article (which, in fairness, I’m quite sure that Hatten did not intend) is that non-Christians can become pro-life and that this should be encouraged through secular argumentation, but that this is a mere stepping-stone to creating pro-life Christians. By the time someone is involved enough in the pro-life movement to be reading pro-life blogs, the religious conversion should have already happened.
Is conversion possible? Sure. The inverse is also possible: a pro-life Christian may become an atheist. Indeed, many SPL members are former Christians. What relevance does any of this have to the unborn babies who are at risk each day?
A non-Christian person can be as pro-life as they come, but if that person thinks that the local pro-life organization is on a mission to save his or her soul, there’s bound to be discomfort. It might cause the person to be less involved in the pro-life movement than he or she otherwise would be. That’s where Secular Pro-Life comes in.
I am optimistic that as SPL grows and develops healthy relationships with other pro-life groups, and as this respectful dialogue continues, the pro-life movement will become more diverse and will derive great strength from that diversity. The table is having some great conversation, so pull up a chair!