Ask a Pro-Life Atheist: Monica Snyder
Once a month or so, the Secular Pro-Life blog features a short interview with a pro-life atheist. (See the full series of interviews here.) Although Secular Pro-Life is not exclusively for atheists, historically atheists have played a key role in the organization. As atheists become more prominent in the pro-life movement generally, we’re excited for the opportunity to share their stories. This month, we welcome Secular Pro-Life’s own Executive Director: Monica Snyder.
How did you arrive at the anti-abortion position?
I’ve been against abortion since I was old enough to have opinions.
I was raised by somewhat active pro-life parents. I have vague memories as a child of holding pro-life signs with my family along a busy road. My dad was an engineer. When he learned that a local pregnancy resource center was having recurrent problems with vandalism, he designed and built signs for the center that were particularly difficult to graffiti or chop down. My parents had a friend who sidewalk counseled. At one point the friend called them and asked if they could house a woman considering abortion. My parents agreed, and hosted her for the remainder of her pregnancy and postpartum period. Her daughter is now in her late twenties.
As a kid, I took these experiences in stride, assuming this is just what people do.
The earliest memory I have of starting to make the pro-life position my own was in middle school. I read pamphlets about late-term abortion and was overwhelmed with sorrow. I could not understand how such a practice exists at all, much less is legal.
How did you arrive at the atheist position?
I was raised Catholic. I began to doubt in early high school. I didn’t want to doubt, and I didn’t want to deconvert. I studied, debated, explored, and especially I prayed. I’ve seen so many Christians claim that all you have to do is ask Jesus into your heart, and there he’ll be. I’m not trying to speak to anyone else’s experiences, but I can tell you that was very clearly not true for me. All I ever heard was radio silence.
Rationally, I knew what it meant. Emotionally, the deconversion took longer. Over the next decade, step by step, I moved from Catholicism to spiritual-but-not-religious Christianity to agnosticism and, eventually, to atheism. So here I am.
How do you contribute to the cause of saving lives in the womb?
As the Executive Director for Secular Pro-Life, I spend an enormous amount of time and energy creating content about the non-religious anti-abortion stance and connecting people from all kinds of different backgrounds to pro-life work, and to each other. And I love the job. If I didn’t have kids, I would spend basically every waking moment on this stuff. Sometimes I can’t believe how lucky I am, that it’s literally my job to work on something I care this much about.
What words of wisdom do you have to share?
The two major phrases that have stuck with me are: “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something” and “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
I find I’m at my best, as an activist, when I worry less about whether or how we will someday outlaw abortion everywhere, and focus more on what resources, skills, connections, and abilities I have right in front of me. If you think there’s nothing you can really do, you’re wrong. There are countless ways to help, and countless women and children who need the help. Pick something.